Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said he remains available for any mission decided by his MPLA party, signalling he is ready to lead the party in a general election scheduled for the third quarter of next year.
Media reports in September cited senior MPLA sources as saying Dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has chosen state oil company Sonangol head Manuel Vicente as his successor, with a transition possibly taking place up to about a year after the election.
“It is a matter that is being treated internally at the party level and I think that by January the situation will be clarified,” Dos Santos said when asked whether he was ready to head the party’s candidate list, Reuters reports.
“Of course as a militant, as a long-serving party militant, I will always be available to fulfil any mission,” he said in a news conference following a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho in Luanda.
Dos Santos strengthened his 32-year grip on power over the major African oil producer with last year’s new constitution, which stipulates the person at the top of the list of the party that wins a parliamentary election becomes president, without need for a direct vote.
Dos Santos has faced unprecedented dissent this year, with a burgeoning youth movement staging several protests calling for his resignation and saying the oil wealth from Africa’s number two producer is not making its way to the impoverished masses.
His administration has long been accused of clamping down on dissent, disregarding human rights and doing little to fight graft and poverty, when an estimated two-thirds of Angola’s 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day.
Local commentators say that Dos Santos also upset senior MPLA figures by forcing through a constitution that gave him added powers, adding he party may urge him to select someone younger and with a military background, instead of Vicente, as his successor.
The general election will be only the second after the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. The MPLA won the civil war against UNITA and the crushed the opposition in a 2008 vote.