Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who led Africa’s second biggest oil producer for nearly four decades, died on Friday, the presidency said.
The 79-year-old died at the Teknon clinic in Barcelona, Spain, where he was being treated following a prolonged illness, according to the statement.
His successor, Angola’s current President Joao Lourenco, declared five days of national mourning and described dos Santos as “unique figure of the Angolan homeland, to which he dedicated himself from a very early age.”
Dos Santos stepped down five years ago.
He frequently described himself as an accidental president, taking the reins after Angola’s first leader, Agostinho Neto, died during cancer surgery in 1979.
Dos Santos oversaw Angola’s recovery from three-decade long war against U.S.-backed UNITA rebels – which he won in 2002 – and led a subsequent oil-fuelled boom.
He was replaced in 2017 by President Lourenco, who despite being from the incumbent’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), took to investigating allegations of multi-billion dollar corruption during the dos Santos era.
The investigations were perceived as a witch-hunt by a number of Angolans who accused Lourenço of leading to Dos Santos’ leaving of the country.
Dos Santos had been receiving medical treatment since 2019.
Portuguese news agency Lusa reported last month that the former president was admitted to an intensive care unit in Barcelona.
His daughter Tchizé dos Santos said in an Instagram post that “fathers never die because they are the truest love that children know in all their lives. They live forever within us.” Additional reporting by Reuters.