Jose Eduardo dos Santos, a former president of Angola who ruled over the continent’s second-largest oil producer for over four decades, passed away on Friday, the presidency announced.
According to the statement, the 79-year-old passed away at the Teknon facility in Barcelona, Spain, where he was receiving treatment for a protracted illness.
Dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents, retired five years ago. His reign was characterized by an oil-fueled prosperity that followed a nearly three-decade-long civil war against UNITA rebels that was supported by the United States.
His successor, President Joao Lourenco, declared five days of national mourning and described dos Santos as a “unique figure of the Angolan homeland.”
Despite being handpicked by dos Santos to succeed him, Lourenco swiftly moved to investigate allegations of multi-billion dollar corruption during the former president’s era.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa hailed the good relationship fostered by dos Santos between the two countries.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said dos Santos had helped in the fight against white minority rule under apartheid.
Dos Santos’ 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”.
Her lawyer, Carmen Varela, said she has asked the clinic where he died to keep his body in Spain for a full autopsy rather than it being returned directly to Angola. The clinic declined to comment.
Angolan journalist and rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais, an outspoken critic of dos Santos, wrote earlier this week on an anti-corruption website that dos Santos’ political legacy “will not be missed but it leaves suffering”.
Tributes and criticism also came from ordinary citizens. Júlia João, a 44-year old homeworker in Luanda, said dos Santos had presided well over the peaceful transition after the war, but squandered the chance to transform Angola.
“It was a lost opportunity for Angola,” she said.