|Affiliation||Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola
|Name||José Eduardo dos Santos|
, , Angola
|| August 28, 1942
Mar 14, 2013 06:22am
Socialist - Married -
|Info||José Eduardo dos Santos (born August 28, 1942 in Luanda) is the current President, Head of Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Angola. |
Eduardo's father was a construction worker. While he was studying in school, he joined the MPLA in 1956 thereby starting his political career. Due to the repression of the colonial government, Dos Santos went into self-exile in France in 1961. He later moved to the Republic of the Congo. From there he collaborated with the MPLA, and soon became the vice-president. To continue with his education he moved, once again, to the former USSR where he received an engineering degree from Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute.
In 1970 he returned to Angola and joined the EPLA (Exército Popular de Libertação de Angola), the military branch of the MPLA, becoming a radio transmitter in the second political-military region of the MPLA. In 1974 he was promoted to sub commander of the telecoms service of the second region, and was also named as coordinator of the foreign policy of the MPLA.
After achieving Angolan independence, the rebel groups MPLA, UNITA and FNLA started the Angolan Civil War which would last 27 years. At the beginning of the war, dos Santos was named president of the MPLA and secretary of foreign policy. He was replaced as secretary in 1976.
After the death of Angola's first president, Agostinho Neto, dos Santos stepped up as president, chief of the armed forces, and president of the parliament in 1979 through internal party elections.
The Bicesse Accord was signed in Lisbon with the leader of UNITA, Dr. Jonas Savimbi, in 1991. The treaty promised that there would be free elections and integration of members of the UNITA to the new armed forces of Angola, the FAA (Forças Armadas Angolanas). As a sign of goodwill with foreign powers, the MPLA had previously rejected Marxist ideology to present itself as a social democratic party.
On 29 September and 30 September of 1992, elections occurred in Angola. Dos Santos beat Dr. Jonas Savimbi (49.5% vs. 40.7%), but since no candidate had achieved the required 50% of the votes on the first round, a second round of voting was called. Savimbi then quit alleging voting fraud. Foreign observers and the UN declared the election as inconclusive. In parliamentary elections the MPLA won 54.7% of the vote with 129 out of 220 seats in parliament. UNITA managed a 34.1%, giving them 70 seats.
Savimbi's withdrawal from the second round of elections gave dos Santos much needed foreign support. The United States recognized Angola in 1993. Dos Santos, now rejecting negotiated peace, began fierce military actions against UNITA.
In 1999, dos Santos gained greater power from the Angolan parliament by becoming Secretary of Defense.
In February 2002 the leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, was killed by FAA (Forcas Armadas do Angola - Angolan Armed Forces)troops. The already weakened UNITA surrendered and signed a peace treaty a few weeks later, ending the Angolan Civil War.
In this short period of peace, dos Santos has signed important contracts with corporations interested in extracting oil and diamonds, controlled high inflation and brought an estimated economic growth of 24%. Despite these economic advances dos Santos has failed to combat governmental corruption, reconstruct public infrastructure, draft a new constitution, or reduce control over the press. Although Angola's natural resources are among the world's richest, the UN considers Angola one of the poorest countries in the world.
Dos Santos announced in 2001 that he would step down at the next presidential election. However, in December 2003 he was reelected as head of the MPLA, and it is widely believed that he will be the party's candidate in the next presidential election. It was thought that this might be held in 2006, and then that it might occur in 2007, but in December 2006 it was announced that the next presidential election would be held in 2009.
In November 2006 dos Santos helped to found the African Countries Diamond Producers Association, an organization of approximately 20 African nations founded to promote market cooperation and foreign investment in the African diamond industry.