ANGOLAN President Jose Eduardo dos Santos will retire from “active politics” in 2018, the state-run Angop news agency has reported, citing a statement he made to the ruling MPLA party’s Central Committee.
In July last year, Dos Santos said he planned 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 then 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 73-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.
Angola is Africa’s largest crude producer after Nigeria and relies on the fuel to generate about 70% of taxes and 95% of export income.
It is struggling to cope with a more than 40% plunge in crude prices in the past year, prompting the government to seek new loans from China and seek financial support from the World Bank.
Last year the World Bank agreed to give Angola $650 million in financial support to help stabilise the economy.
The Angolan kwanza is Africa’s most overvalued currency, based on the cost of a bucket of fried chicken in the oil-producing nation.
The currency’s official rate is 72% overvalued against the dollar, according to the KFC Index published on the website of Sagaci Research recently.
The Yum Brands Inc. fast-food franchise has restaurants in 18 African countries.
The kwanza has weakened 17% against the dollar this year, adding to last year’s 24% decline, after the government in January allowed the currency to devalue because of the collapse in oil prices.
Standard & Poor’s early this month downgraded the country’s credit rating to B from B+, placing the country five levels below investment grade.