Angola’s Ex-President Dos Santos Returns Home After 30-Month Exile

Former President of Angola, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos returned home on Tuesday for the first time since he went into exile in Barcelona in April 2019, the official Angola Press News Agency reported.

After almost four decades of serving as the President of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, Dos Santos stepped down, making him one of the continent’s longest-running rulers.

He was replaced by Joao Lourenco, a candidate for the incumbent’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). But Lourenco then surprised many by swiftly moving to investigate allegations of corruption during the Dos Santos era, targeting the former leader’s children in seeking to recover billions of dollars of siphoned revenue.

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Even though he has not been charged in any corruption case. He returns ahead of the ruling MPLA’s party congress in December and presidential elections next year.

His daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, who became Africa’s richest woman, has also been targeted by asset freezes and several anti-corruption cases relating to her brief stint as head of state oil company Sonangol from 2016 to 2017, in the last days of her father’s rule. She denies any wrongdoing.

A Dutch court last month ruled that a half-billion-dollar stake in the Portuguese oil company Galp linked to her must be handed over to Angola since its acquisition was “tainted by illegality.”

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A court in Luanda last year sentenced the former head of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, Dos Santo’s son, Jose Filomeno Dos Santos to five years in prison over a $500 million corruption case.

Dos Santos return takes place as the government struggles to jump-start an economy that has been mired in recession for the past five years worsened by COVID-19 and is scheduled to hold presidential elections next year. 

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