José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s former 38 year dictator dies aged 79

José Eduardo dos Santos (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈzɛ eˈðwaɾðu dus ˈsɐ̃tuʃ]; 28 August 1942 – 8 July 2022), was an Angolan politician.

Who served as the president of Angola from 1979 to 2017. As President, José Eduardo dos Santos was also the commander in chief of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA).

And President of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). The party that has ruled Angola since it gained independence in 1975.

Second longest serving President.

He was the second-longest-serving president in Africa, surpassed only by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. Who took power less than two months before dos Santos.

Dos Santos joined the MPLA, then an anti-colonial movement, while still in school. And earned degrees in petroleum engineering and radar communications while studying in the Soviet Union.

He fought for the MPLA during the Angolan War of Independence. Which became the sole legal party after the country’s independence in 1975.

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Marxism – Leninism

And adopted Marxism-Leninism as its ideology. He then held several positions, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the rule of the country’s first president, Agostinho Neto.

Following Neto’s death in 1979, dos Santos was elected the country’s new president. Inheriting a civil war against Western-backed anti-communist rebels.

Most notably, UNITA, while himself being supported by the Second World. By 1991, his government agreed with rebels to introduce a multi-party system.

MPLA’s Ideology

While changing the MPLA’s ideology from communism to social democracy. He was elected president in the 1992 Angolan general election.

Over UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, and presided over free-market economic liberalization and the development of the country’s oil sector.

In 1996, he contributed to a rebel invasion of neighboring Zaire during the First Congo War, leading to the overthrow of UNITA ally Mobutu Sese Seko.

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Installation of Laurent-Désiré Kabila

And the installation of Laurent-Désiré Kabila as President in 1997. During the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003, he supported Kabila’s government.

And later that of his son Joseph against several rebel groups allied with UNITA. The MPLA achieved victory in the Angolan Civil War in 2002 following Savimbi’s death.

After winning a second presidential term in the 2012 election, he retired from the presidency in 2017. And was succeeded by João Lourenço in the 2017 Angolan general election.

Controversial Figure

A controversial figure, dos Santos has received many international awards for his commitment to anti-colonialism.

And promotion of peace negotiations with rebels to end wars and has also been praised for developing Angola’s economy and attracting significant foreign investment.

He has simultaneously been criticized as a dictator accused of creating one of the most corrupt regimes in Africa, with a deeply-entrenched patronage network.


Dos Santos died on 8th July 2022, aged 79, in a Spain hospital.