Wednesday, February 1, 2012

José Eduardo dos Santos

José Eduardo dos Santos (born August 28, 1942) is an Angolan politician who has been the second and current President of Angola since 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 independence in 1975.

Life and Career
Eduardo dos Santos, born in the district of Sambizanga in Luanda, is the son of Avelino Eduardo dos Santos and Jacinta José Paulino, immigrants from São Tomé and Príncipe. He attended primary school in his neighborhood in Luanda, and received his secondary education at the colonial elite school Liceu Salvador Correia, today called Mutu ya Kevela. He began his political activity integrating clandestine groups that formed in suburban neighbourhoods of the capital, following the establishment on December 10, 1956 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 of 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 from the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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 on August 1, 1974 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 and Politburo of the MPLA in Moxico (province) in September 1974.

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.

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.

On September 29 and September 30, 1992, elections occurred 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. Savimbi then quit, alleging voting fraud, and immediately resumed the civil war, while José Eduardo dos Santos remained in office.

In 2001, dos Santos announced that he would step down at the next presidential election. However, in December 2003 he was reelected as head of the MPLA and no further presidential election took place, despite these being announced for 2006, then 2007 and finally announced that the next presidential election would be held in 2009. 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.

José Eduardo dos Santos married three times and has six children from his wives, and one born out of wedlock. 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.

Since 2010 manifestations of protest against José Eduardo dos Santos are on record. 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. 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).

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