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José Eduardo dos Santos
José Eduardo dos Santos 2.jpg
dos Santos in 2007
2nd President of Angola
In office
21 September 1979 – 25 September 2017
Prime Minister
Vice President
Preceded by Lúcio Lara (acting)
Succeeded by João Lourenço
Personal details
Born (1942-08-28)28 August 1942
Luanda, Portuguese Angola
Died 8 July 2022(2022-07-08) (aged 79)
Barcelona, Spain
Political party MPLA
  • Tatiana Kukanova
  • Second wife
  • Ana Paula Lemos
    (m. 1991)
Children 7, including Isabel, José and Coréon Dú
Alma mater Azerbaijan State Oil Academy
Military service
Rank Army General (1986)

José Eduardo dos Santos (August 28, 1942 – July 8, 2022) was an Angolan politician who served as 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. 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 died on July 8, 2022 at a hospital in Barcelona, Spain from cancer, aged 79.

Early life and education

José Eduardo dos Santos-16062014-edit
José Eduardo dos Santos

Eduardo dos Santos, born in what is today the district of Sambizanga in Luanda, is the son of Avelino Eduardo dos Santos and Jacinta José Paulino. He attended primary school in Luanda, and received his secondary education at the Liceu Salvador Correia, today called Mutu ya Kevela.

While in school, dos Santos joined the MPLA, which marked the beginning of his political career. Due to 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 to the Soviet Union, where by 1969, he received degrees in petroleum engineering and in radar communications, from the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Military career

In 1970, he returned to Angola, which was still a Portuguese territory known as the Overseas Province of Angola. He served for three years in the MPLA's EPLA guerrilla force, later known as the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA), the military wing 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 was the MPLA representative to Yugoslavia, Zaire and the People's Republic of China before he was elected to the Central Committee and Politburo of the MPLA in Moxico in September 1974.

Political career

Vladimir Putin with Jose Eduardo dos Santos-1
Vladimir Putin with Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Moscow 2006

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, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA).

The same year, 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.

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

Awards and recognition

  • José Eduardo dos Santos was named "Man of the Year 2014" by Africa World magazine. According to the newspaper, the choice of the Angolan leader was due to his contribution to the great process of economic and democratic recovery of Angola since the end of the war.
  • Dos Santos was praised for the major role he played in favour of the country's independence and his commitment to the promotion of peace and democracy in the country, through negotiations with opposition movements designed to put a definite end to the civil war.
  • A University of Namibia Engineering and Information Technology campus in Ongwediva is named after former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, himself a trained engineer by profession for assisting Namibia with attaining her freedom from oppression.

Personal life

Ana Paula dos Santos
Ana Paula dos Santos, José Eduardo dos Santos wife who he married in 1991

José Eduardo dos Santos married three times and had seven children. In 1991 he married a former fashion model and air hostess, First Lady Ana Paula dos Santos. He and his family have amassed a significant personal fortune.

In mid-2017 dos Santos twice traveled to Barcelona in Spain on weeks-long visits that were rumored to be related to a medical problem. The government acknowledged that the first visit was related to his health. Apart from Portuguese, he was also fluent in Spanish, French and Russian.

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