Former president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-biggest oil producer for 38 years, has died aged 79, the Angolan presidency announced on Facebook on Friday.
He was 79 years old and died following a long illness, the government said in an announcement on its Facebook page.
The announcement said dos Santos, who ruled Angola for almost 40 years from 1979, was “a statesman of great historical scale who governed … the Angolan nation through very difficult times.”
Dos Santos had mostly lived in Barcelona since stepping down in 2017 and he reportedly had been undergoing treatment there for health problems.
Angola’s current head of state, Joao Lourenco, announced five days of national mourning starting Friday, when the country’s flag will fly at half-staff and public events are canceled.
Dos Santos came to power four years after Angola gained independence from Portugal and became enmeshed in the Cold War as a proxy battlefield.
Dos Santos was invited to the White House in 2004 by then-president George W. Bush as the United States has looked to reduce its dependence on oil from the Middle East.
Angola became sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, producing close to 2 million barrels per day. It also unearthed more than $1 billion worth of diamonds each year.
However, the wealth never reached the Angolan people, who during and after the civil war were at risk from large areas of unmapped minefields and had little access basic amenities, such as running water or roads. Education and health car