It's not wise for me to step down now, Angola's long-serving president Dos Santos says, but signals change

The 72-year-old, in power since 1979, is the second-longest ruler in Africa after Equatorial- Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

JOSE Eduardo dos Santos, Africa’s second- longest serving ruler, said he plans to step down only when his current mandate runs out in 2017 and asked his party to prepare for a leadership change in the oil-producing country.

“In certain restricted circles it was almost a given that the president wouldn’t carry out his mandate until the end, but it’s evident that it’s not wise to consider that option under the current circumstances,” Dos Santos said in a speech published on the website of Angolan state-run news agency Angop. 

“In the meantime, I think we should study very seriously how to build that transition.”

The 72-year-old Dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979, is the second-longest ruler in Africa after Equatorial- Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. 

His comments took place as Africa’s second-largest oil producer struggles to cope with a more than 40% plunge in crude prices in the past year, prompting his government to seek new loans from China and seek financial support from the World Bank.

Dos Santos said in the speech to the ruling party’s policy- making central committee that Angola’s level of indebtedness was below 40% of the country’s gross domestic product and remained under control.

“The increase of the level of indebtedness is being done in a calculated manner and with respect to the goals defined by the electoral program approved by the Angolan people,” Dos Santos said. 

This week the World Bank agreed to give Angola $650 million in financial support to help stabilise the economy.

The Washington-based lender approved a $450 million loan and $200 million of guarantees, it said in a statement late on Wednesday. That’s the first World Bank financial aid for Angola since 2010, it said.

The government in February cut its 2015 budget by 26%, while predicting the fiscal gap will reach 7% of gross domestic product. The currency has weakened 16% against the dollar on the interbank market this year. (Bloomberg)

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