Reports confirmed that Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos returned home on Tuesday for the first time since he went into exile in Barcelona in April 2019.
Recall that the former president stepped down four years ago after almost 40 years as president of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, making him one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders.
Dos Santos was replaced by Joao Lourenco, a candidate for the incumbent’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). But the latter 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.
The exiled ex-president has not been charged in any corruption case. He returns ahead of the ruling MPLA’s party congress come December and the presidential elections next year. Angola remains stuck in a five-year-long recession, worsened by COVID-19.
Last year, a court in Luanda sentenced Dos Santo’s son, Jose Filomeno Dos Santos, to five years in prison.
His daughter, Isabel Dos Santos, who emerged Africa’s richest woman, has also been targeted by asset freezes and several anti-corruption cases in connection to her brief stint as head of an oil company Sonangol from 2016 to 2017 during her Father’s last days in office as President. She, however, denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, a Dutch court 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.”
Isabel Dos Santos again has denied being involved and cried out that she was the subject of a political witch hunt by Angola’s new leaders.