Dos Santos returns to Angola, quashes rumours over his health
By Santos Vilola
LUANDA – President José Eduardo dos Santos returned to the country on Monday last week, after 29 days in Barcelona, Spain.
On the day, Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti undid the mystery surrounding the president’s health to Radio France International (RFI), and revealed that President dos Santos was in Barcelona “for health reasons”.
However, Chikoti dispelled the rumours that the president had been a victim of a stroke.
On arrival in Luanda, dos Santos was accompanied by his wife Ana Paula dos Santos and was received by Vice President Manuel Vicente, the president of the National Assembly, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, the presiding judge of the Constitutional Court, Rui Ferreira, and representatives of other government entities.
The images of dos Santos stepping out of the aircraft were much awaited by Angolans after so much controversy around his health. Never in the history of the country has a return of the president been so expected.
Since he went to Barcelona about a month ago, the state of his health has been a source of
speculation in Angola, even after official clarifications that he was in good health.
According to the official statement from the support services to the President, dos Santos went to Spain “”on a private visit”.
Usually this is the expression used to justify the absence of the President from the country, even when he leaves for medical treatment.
Days later, rumours surfaced that the Head of State was sick. Certain sections of the media even took advantage of the mystery of dos Santos’ state of health to say that the President was dead.
In the days that followed the rumours, sources familiar with the matter denied the news and assured the nation that dos Santos was alive and recovering from a routine treatment he had been undergoing in the Spanish city in recent years.
Clarifications on the President’s state of health came from his daughters, Tchizé and Isabel, who used social media networks to reassure the people that their father was healthy. Dos Santos is stepping down from office this year after elections scheduled for 23 August. After convening the general elections, the President has 23 September as the date of expiry of his term, that is 30 days after the elections, according to the country’s Constitution.
Anyone who is elected as President has his/her inauguration 15 days after the official announcement of the results, which must be made three days after August 23, if there are no serious irregularities that oblige the Constitutional Court to intervene.
The Angolan ruling party MPLA has nominated Joao Lourenco, who is the party’s vice president and the country’s Defence Minister, as their candidate in the polls and he is tipped to succeed dos Santos as president of the republic.