PROFILE - Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos

Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:49am EST

Position: President of the Republic of Angola

Incumbent: Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 68

Term: Dos Santos has been in power since 1979, making him one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. A new Angolan constitution put in place in January 2010 strengthened his power and extended his rule.

Angola is due to hold elections in 2012 -- the second since the end of a devastating civil war in 2002. Dos Santos is widely expected to win the vote which will enable him to remain in power until 2022 but there is some speculation that he will retire before then.

Key Facts: Dos Santos is seen as key to peace and stability in one of Africa's biggest oil producers, despite criticism for holding power for more than three decades and having a huge influence over politics and the economy.

- Dos Santos' family and inner circle hold huge sway over business and some are among the richest people on the continent.

- The Angolan president overhauled his government in October, replacing the central bank governor and creating a new Economy Ministry -- the second reshuffle after the new constitution took effect.

- Dos Santos has pledged to crack down on corruption in the southern Africa country vying with Nigeria as the continent's top oil producer. Angola is seen as the world's 18th most corrupt country, according to Transparency International.

- A quiet man with a firm grip on affairs of state, Dos Santos assumed the presidency of Angola in 1979, four years into a civil war with UNITA rebels that began when the country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.

- The war ended in April 2002, after the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)'s charismatic founder and leader Jonas Savimbi died in a gun battle with government troops.

- Dos Santos, first regarded by many as a colourless technocrat, took over leadership of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in 1979 after the death of Angola's first charismatic leader Agostinho Neto.

- Reserved and quiet, he was chosen because of his uncontroversial qualities and his lack of a real power base but he quietly steered the MPLA away from its previous Marxist policies.

- A man who enjoys an extravagant life-style as president, dos Santos had modest roots. He was born to a working-class family in Luanda on August 28, 1942. His father was a mason. He entered politics at 19, just before the MPLA launched its armed struggle against Portuguese rule in February 1961.

- In 1962 he joined the MPLA guerrillas in the field but his first experience of the bush war was brief and he left for Moscow on a Soviet scholarship a year later.

- In Moscow he graduated in petroleum engineering and stayed to train as a military telecommunications expert, experience he used back in Angola working as a radio operator for the MPLA.

- When the last Portuguese troops withdrew in 1975 and Neto proclaimed the independence of the People's Republic of Angola, dos Santos became the new state's first foreign minister and subsequently took charge of economic development. (Reporting by Marius Bosch; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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