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14.09.2021 Angola

Angola's ex-president home after two years in Spain

By AFP
Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of the former Angolan president, was jailed for five years on graft charges.  By Joao da Fatima (AFP)
LISTEN SEP 14, 2021
Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of the former Angolan president, was jailed for five years on graft charges. By Joao da Fatima (AFP)

Angola's controversial ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Tuesday arrived in the southern Africa nation from Spain, the first time he has returned home since retiring, the state press agency said.

Dos Santos left the country in 2019 after handing the reigns over the previous year, to President Joao Lourenco, who has since targeted the former first family in an anti-graft probe.

He landed in Angola's capital Luanda on Tuesday morning after spending two years in Barcelona, Angop reported.

The length of his stay was not immediately clear.

Dos Santos, 79, is accused of appointing relatives and friends to top positions during his 38-year presidency of the oil-rich nation.

Critics say corruption was rife during his rule, with wealth amassing in the hands of a select few and billions of dollars allegedly embezzled from state-owned companies.

President Joao Lourenco, who took office in 2018, has promised to root out graft and restore the oil-dependent economy.

He launched an anti-corruption campaign against the former regime that has honed in on some of dos Santos's children.

Prosecutors in 2019 froze the business assets of dos Santos's billionaire daughter Isabel dos Santos, appointed chair of state oil company Sonangol during her father's rule.

Removed from the position shortly after Lourenco stepped in, Isabel is being probed for allegedly syphoning state funds into offshore assets -- accusations she vehemently denies.

Her half-brother Jose Filomeno dos Santos was sentenced to five years in prison in August last year for diverting oil revenues from Angola's sovereign wealth fund, which he oversaw from 2013 to 2018.

Dos Santos is under presidential immunity from prosecution until 2022, five years after the end of his mandate.

Angolans will meanwhile be heading to the polls next year for presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

Lourenco is widely expected to vie for a second term.

He has fallen behind on his promise to restore the economy and caused ire among the opposition for making "unfair" electoral law amendments this month.

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