Angolan president, dogged by health rumours, back from Spain

Jose Eduardo dos Santos (AFP)
Jose Eduardo dos Santos (AFP)

Luanda - Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has returned from Spain more than two weeks after he left the country on a "private visit", the presidency said Thursday, as rumours of ill health swirl.

The 74-year-old leader, who has been in power since 1979, had left on July 3, five weeks after a month-long stay in Barcelona for medical tests.

The nature of his health problems has not been made public, and earlier this year his daughter Isabel dos Santos denied rumours that he had died while in Spain.

Dos Santos "returned from Spain on a private visit" along with his wife Ana Paula dos Santos on Wednesday and was met at an airbase by the vice president and other officials, the presidency said in a statement.

Opposition parties are seeking a debate on the president's health and the nature of his medical trips to Spain in parliament next week.

Dos Santos' mysterious health condition has also made headlines at home, with media previously reporting that he had suffered a stroke.

Investigative news site Maka Angola also claimed that his condition was critical.

Dos Santos has ruled the oil-rich country with an iron fist.

Critics often accuse him of suppressing dissent and enriching his family and the ruling elite.

He will not contest the August 23 general election, which his MPLA party looks likely to win. Defence Minister Joao Lourenco has emerged as Dos Santos' chosen successor.

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