AFRICANGLOBE – Angola’s long-time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has confirmed he will step down after 37 years in power before August’s poll and has announced his likely successor as Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco , who has also been approved by the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party as the candidate heading the list in the August elections.
Many Angolans had expected a member of the dos Santos family. Such as the President’s son Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who heads the country’s $5 billion (4.7 billion euros) sovereign wealth fund, appointed by the President.
The Defense Minister is candidacy falls in line with the ruling party memo since numerous generals have wielded political influence over Angola in the past.
“Power in the country will remain in the hands of the military because Lourenco is a general,” says Angolan opposition activist Nuno Dala.
Joao Lourenco, 62, has been associated with the military throughout his career. He did his military training in the artillery and then became a political officer whose duties included the political education of Angolan soldiers. Lourence received more military training and studied history and related subjects from 1978 to 1982 in what was then the Soviet Union.
Equipped with the rank of general, he turned to politics becoming leader of the MPLA in parliament and then deputy president of parliament. He is currently defense minister.
As a young man, Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco fought against Portugal’s rule of Angola and in the civil war that erupted between the MPLA government and UNITA rebels after independence in 1975.
His biography posted on the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), states that he used to play football and do Shotokan karate. He also enjoys chess and horse-riding.
Lourenco is a married man and a father to six children. He speaks Russian, Spanish and English.