LUANDA (Reuters) – Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second biggest oil producer for nearly four decades, is in intensive care at a clinic in Barcelona, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, citing a source close to him.
The Angolan government did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but on its Facebook page said the former leader had suffered a deterioration in his health.
Dos Santos, 79, has been receiving medical treatment since 2019.
“Following the information about the deterioration of the health condition of the former president of the republic Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President Joao Lourenco today held a phone conversation with (his wife) Ana Paula … in a gesture of solidarity,” the presidency said on its Facebook page.
Dos Santos was admitted to an intensive care unit, Lusa reported on Thursday, without saying when this occurred.
One of Africa’s longest serving leaders, dos Santos stepped down five years ago. His rule was marked by a brutal civil war lasting nearly three decades against U.S.-backed UNITA rebels – which he won in 2002 – and a subsequent oil-fuelled boom.
Between 2002 and 2014, as oil production grew and prices boomed, Angola’s economy expanded tenfold, from $12.4 billion to $126 billion. But little of that wealth trickled down to the poor, while those closest to dos Santos became super-rich – including his daughter, Isabel, whom Forbes labelled Africa’s richest woman and youngest billionaire, worth about $3 billion.
Dos Santos was replaced in 2017 by President Joao Lourenco, who despite being from the incumbent’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), swiftly moved to probe allegations of multi-billion dollar corruption during the dos Santos era, targeting the former leader’s children.
Last year dos Santos returned home for the first time since he went into exile in Barcelona in April 2019.
(Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian in Gdansk and Miguel Gomez in Luanda; Editing by Tim Cocks and Alex Richardson)