News / Africa

Angola's Next Elections Could Be Last for Dos Santos

Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (R) and his wife Ana Paula attend the inauguration of the new Luanda Bay Marginal in the capital Luanda, August 28, 2012.
Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (R) and his wife Ana Paula attend the inauguration of the new Luanda Bay Marginal in the capital Luanda, August 28, 2012.
JOHANNESBURG — Voters in Angola go to the polls Friday to choose the nation's next president.  It will be only the third election since the country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. It will also be an important moment for candidate and incumbent president José Eduardo Dos Santos, whose 32 years at the helm of Angola makes him the second longest-serving African leader.

José Eduardo Dos Santos celebrated his 70th birthday amid a heated electoral campaign. He is an African icon, tied to the fate of his country. His 32 years in power, through war and peace, has made this son of a mason and of a maid one of the most important people in Angola's tormented history.

Born in a poor neighborhood of Luanda, Dos Santos was only a teenager when he entered a clandestine group to fight Portuguese rule in Angola. He joined the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola. He then spent seven years studying petroleum engineering in the Soviet Union.

When he returned to Angola, he rose through the ranks of the MPLA, eventually taking over its leadership after the death of Agostinho Neto.

In 1979, the 37-year-old Dos Santos began his long reign in the newly-independent and already war-torn country.

After 27 years of civil war with the opposition party UNITA, Dos Santos's party, backed by the the Soviet Union and its successor, Russia, and Cuba, crushed its opponent, bringing the country  to peace in 2002. Four years later, he was elected president with 82 percent of the vote.

According to Ana Alves, senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, this accomplishment still strongly shapes his image among the older population.

"I think the height of his popularity was 2008. He was really popular because he brought the end of the civil war," says Alves. "I think he still got a lot of support from his peers during the war and and the people who supported the MPLA during the civil war. There was a lot of constructions, until now there is a lot of of construction."

Rebuilding the country's infrastructure has been a priority for Dos Santos. But despite of the country's current booming economy, Alves says that Dos Santos has alienated the nation's youth, who feel left out of the economic boom.

"The youth, they are not attached to that anymore," says Alves. "They grew up until they were 10 or so, and then the war is over. So that detachment formed the old leadership to the new one will cause some problems to Dos Santos. Forty percent of the Angolan population is under 18. So those ones, they don't count now, because they don't vote. But, in 10 years time, that will be the biggest part of the population. In five years time even. And, they will want to have their problems addressed. And, this is mostly living conditions, salaries, employment and all that."

This election could be the last for Dos Santos.

Last year, the media claimed that he was already preparing his succession by naming Manuel Vicente, the former leader of the Sanangol national oil company, into the political bureau. The MPLA denied this but, on Friday, Vicente will be the on the MPLA ballot for vice president.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Optimist
August 29, 2012 11:29 AM
Enough for Dos Santos. He has been in power for eternity, its time to pass on the helm of power to someone below the age of fifty five. He has forgotten what's like to be poor, in Angola the level of corruption is very high, its only second to Kenya.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs