April 24, 2017 / 1:01 PM / a year ago

Angola's presidential council proposes Aug. 23 for national vote

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola’s Council of the Republic, a presidential group that consults on national decisions, has proposed Aug. 23 for a national election, state radio reported on Monday, a decision which hangs on President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ approval.

Angolan President and MPLA leader, Jose Eduardo dos Santos attends a party central committee at a meeting in Luanda, Angola, December 2 ,2016. REUTERS/Herculano Coroado

Dos Santos, 74, will step down as president after 38 years at the helm but will retain control of the powerful ruling MPLA party. He is Africa’s second longest-ruling leader and said in February he will not run in this year’s presidential election.

The MPLA chose Defence Minister Joao Lourenco, 63, as its presidential candidate last December.

Dos Santos, a communist-trained oil engineer and a veteran of the guerrilla war against Portuguese rule, will remain president of the MPLA, retaining sweeping powers over what has become Africa’s No. 2 crude producer and third largest economy.

His inscrutable public demeanour belies his tight control of Angola, where he has overseen an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

Despite its oil wealth, most of Angola’s 22 million people live in grinding poverty and they have become increasingly frustrated in recent years as low crude prices hammered growth.

Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia and Louise Ireland

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