José Eduardo dos Santos

José Eduardo dos Santos is an Angolan politician and the current President of Angola, having come to power in 1979.

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José Eduardo dos Santos (born August 28, 1942)[4] is an Angolan politician and the current President of Angola, having come to power in 1979. As President, José Eduardo dos Santos is also the commander in chief of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and president of the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola), the party that has been ruling Angola since it gained independence in 1975.[5]

Life and career

Eduardo dos Santos, born in what is today the district of Sambizanga in Luanda,[4] is the son of Avelino Eduardo dos Santos and Jacinta José Paulino, immigrants from São Tomé and Príncipe.[6] He attended primary school in Luanda, and received his secondary education at the colonial elite school Liceu Salvador Correia,[7][8] today called Mutu ya Kevela. He began his political activity integrating clandestine groups that formed in suburban neighbourhoods of the capital, following the establishment of the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola).

While studying in school, José Eduardo dos Santos joined the MPLA, which marked the beginning of his political career. Due to the repression by the colonial government, dos Santos went into exile in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville in 1961. From there he collaborated with the MPLA and soon became an official member of the party. To continue with his education he moved, once again, to the Soviet Union, where by 1969, he received degrees in petroleum engineering and in radar communications[9] from the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute in Baku, Azerbaijan.[10]

In 1970 he returned to Angola, which was still a Portuguese territory known as the Overseas Province of Angola, and joined the MPLA's guerrilla forces EPLA (Exército Para a Libertação de Angola) later to be known as FAPLA (Forças Armadas Populares de Libertação de Angola), a branch of the MPLA, becoming a radio transmitter in the second political-military region of the MPLA in Cabinda Province. In 1974, he was promoted to sub commander of the telecoms service of the second region. He served as the MPLA's representative to Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the People's Republic of China before being elected to the Central Committee[11] and Politburo of the MPLA in Moxico (province) in September 1974.[6]

In June 1975, dos Santos became coordinator of the MPLA's Department of Foreign Affairs; he also coordinated the MPLA's Department of Health at this time. Upon Angolan independence in November 1975, the MPLA held power in Luanda, but the new MPLA government faced a civil war with the other political formations UNITA and FNLA; the civil war continued for most of the period until 2002. Dos Santos was appointed as Angola's first Minister of Foreign Affairs upon independence, and in this capacity he played a key role in obtaining diplomatic recognition for the MPLA government in 1975–76. At the MPLA's First Congress in December 1977, Eduardo dos Santos was re-elected to the Central Committee and Politburo. In December 1978, he was moved from the post of First Deputy Prime Minister in the government to that of Minister of Planning.[6]

Dos Santos (fifth from the left) at the Brandenburg Gate during a 1981 state visit, with East German officials

After the death of Angola's first president, Agostinho Neto, on September 10, 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos was elected as President of the MPLA on September 20, 1979, and he took office as President of Angola, President of the MPLA, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on September 21. He was also elected as President of the People's Assembly on November 9, 1980.[6]

On September 29 and September 30, 1992, elections were held in Angola. José Eduardo dos Santos won the election against his main rival, Jonas Savimbi (49.5% vs. 40.7%), but since no candidate achieved the required 50% of the votes, a second round of voting was called. Eight opposition parties rejected the 1992 elections as rigged.[12] Following the election the Halloween Massacre occurred, where tens of thousands of UNITA voters were massacred nationwide by MPLA forces.[12]Savimbi then quit, alleging voting fraud, and immediately resumed the civil war, while José Eduardo dos Santos remained in office.

Dos Santos and the President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, in 2003

Dos Santos with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev whilst the latter was on a state visit to Angola on 26 June 2009

In 2001, dos Santos announced that he would step down at the next presidential election.[13] However, in December 2003 he was reelected as head of the MPLA[14] and no further presidential election took place, despite these being announced for 2006,[15] then 2007 and finally announced that the next presidential election would be held in 2009.[16] After legislative election in 2008 in which the ruling MPLA won a landslide victory, the party started working on a new constitution that was introduced early in 2010. In terms of the new constitution, the leader of the party with the most seats in Parliament automatically becomes the president of the country.

In November 2006, Eduardo dos Santos adopted an initiative created by veteran Diamantaire, Dr. André Action Diakité Jackson, to launch the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), an intergovernmental offshoot of the African Diamond Council (ADC), consisting of approximately 20 African nations founded to promote market cooperation and foreign investment in the African diamond industry.[17]

José Eduardo dos Santos married three times and has six children from his wives, and one born out of wedlock.[18] He and his family have amassed a significant personal fortune. The actual value is unknown, but in recent years his daughter Isabel dos Santos, who manages the family fortune, has made multi-million dollar investments in Angola and in Portugal, in her name and that of her husband.[19]

Since 2010 manifestations of protest against José Eduardo dos Santos are on record.[20] José Eduardo dos Santos escaped an assassination attempt on 24 October 2010 when a vehicle tried to intercept his car as he was returning from the beach with his family. His escort opened fire killing two passengers in the vehicle, and weapons were found on board.[21] This incident has not been confirmed by any other source. In February/March 2011, and then again in September 2011, public manifestations were organized in Luanda by young Angolans, mostly via internet (where violent criticisms of the President, and the regime he stands for, have become frequent).[22]


  1. Position abolished in 2010.
  2. José Eduardo dos Santos: Biography from. Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
  3. baptized, but not practicing
  4. W. Martin James and Susan Herlin Broadhead, Historical Dictionary of Angola (2004), Scarecrow Press, page 145.
  5. "Introduction ::Angola".
  6. Biography at MPLA website (Portuguese). However, his birthplace is controversial; contested sources indicate he was born in Almeirim (São Tomé)
  7. The Embassy of the Republic of Angola in Abu Dhabi. Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
  8. Notícias do Brasil | Noticias do Brasil, Portugal e países de língua portuguesa e comunidades portuguesas. (2006-02-23). Retrieved on 2011-01-09.
  9. East, Roger; Thomas, Richard (2003). Profiles of people in power: the world's government leaders. Psychology Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-85743-126-1.
  10. Biography on the Angolan Embassy Hellenic website
  11. Louis Gates, Henry; Anthony Appiah (1999). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. p. 624.
  12. National Society for Human Rights, Ending the Angolan Conflict, Windhoek, Namibia, July 3, 2000 (opposition parties, massacres); John Matthew, Letters, The Times, UK, November 6, 1992 (election observer); NSHR, Press Releases, September 12, 2000, May 16, 2001 (MPLA atrocities).
  13. "Dos Santos to bow out", IRIN, August 24, 2001.
  14. "Dos Santos at the helm", IRIN, December 17, 2003.
  15. "Uncertainty increases over election date", IRIN, February 16, 2006.
  16. "New delay for Angolan elections", BBC News, December 21, 2006.
  17. "Angola: African Diamond Producing Countries Ministers Meet" ANGOP, 4 November 2006.
  19. For references see the article Isabel dos Santos
  20. According to West Africa Newsletter 599,
  21. ANGOLA – Zedu targeted retrieved on 2011-01-09
  22. "Manifestação contra Presidente de Angola travada violentamente pela polícia" (manifestation against President of Angola violently repressed by police) Público (Lisbon), retrieved September 4, 2011