LUANDA — Angola’s ruling party met on Wednesday for a huge national congress, where long-ruling President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is expected to be re-elected as party leader ahead of a 2017 national vote.
The four-day congress opened in the capital Luanda, with Dos Santos appearing decked out in the signature red of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party, an AFP journalist said.
In power since 1979, the president’s nomination as party chief — expected on Friday or Saturday — is all but guaranteed.
“Nobody will stand against Dos Santos. This congress will be nothing new,” said political analyst Justinho Pinto de Andrade.
The 73-year-old ruler said in March he would leave politics in 2018, after his current mandate ends at the close of 2017.
But critics are sceptical given similar claims in the past.
“We must prepare the party for the next challenge and for the coming election victory in 2017,” Dos Santos said at a party meeting last week. “We must continue working to maintain the trust of the people of Angola.”
The country’s electoral system does not allow for a presidential vote, but stipulates that the leader of the winning party automatically becomes head of state.
Over 2,600 delegates are set to vote during the congress.
Agostinho dos Santos, an analyst deeply critical of the regime, said it was “a characteristic of a dictatorship” that the president was “the candidate for his own succession”.
Dos Santos came to power in 1979, following the unexpected death from cancer of liberation president Agostinho Neto.
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