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Renson Mwakandana

After years of prolonged illness, the former president of Angola, José Eduardo Dos Santos, died last week on Friday in Barcelona, Spain at age 79. 

The family of Santos, led by his sons, rejected a state funeral proposal, claiming that for unknown reasons, their patriarch wanted to be buried in Barcelona. They pressed for adherence to their father’s desires.

A daughter of the ex-Angolan President, Welwitschia dos Santos rejected plan because they had issues with the Angolan government.

Welwitschia dos Santos, daughter to José Eduardo Dos Santos /Bloomberg/

“What are you to my father? Are you his eldest son? Who gave you permission, the effrontery, to be inviting me to my own father’s funeral?” In a voice message sent to journalists, she questioned the incumbent president.

The president said on Friday that the burial will be organized by the Angolan government and that he expected everyone to attend, even the family members “who are abroad.”

President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, current President of Angola /Council Of Foreign Relations/

Welwitschia and her sister Isabel, who is being prosecuted for corruption in multiple nations, had avoided Angola for years because they were being persecuted politically and feared for their lives.

At Welwitschia’s request, Spanish legal authorities consented to conduct an autopsy on the dead leader’s body.

The decision of Juzgado de Guardia de Barcelona, according to Lusa, the Portuguese news agency, was issued as a result of a request by her attorneys, who objected to “pressure” from the Angolan government, which had deployed state personnel to collect the corpse.

Isabel Dos Santos, another daughter to the late José Eduardo Dos Santos /The Independent Uganda/ 

JES, also known as José Eduardo dos Santos, was once hailed as the country’s peacebuilder who ended years of civil strife. A controversial figure, Dos Santos will be missed by many Angolans who praised him as the architect of the peace negotiations that ended the country’s 27-year civil war in 2002.

But by the time he passed away on July 8 at 11:10 a.m. Spanish time, the majority of his admirers had turned on him. His reputation as a statesman, which had long been held in high regard, had been supplanted shortly after he left office in 2017 by clouds of scandal and controversy.

Even if his passing was not unexpected, it was nonetheless close to the territory he controlled and managed like his own private enterprise.

Dos Santos handed over control to his old supporter João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço in 2017 after 37 years in office. But his successor would reveal his real colors by probing Santos’ corruption and skeletons.

On April 16, 2019, Dos Santos was compelled to leave the nation for formal medical treatment in Spain due to the cloud surrounding his prior transgressions. He spent the rest of his life in Spain, visiting Angola only on rare occasions.

Dos Santos was born on August 28, 1942, in the Sambizanga town of Luanda, notwithstanding the claims of certain opposition politicians and human rights advocates that he was born in the former Portuguese province of Sao Tome and Principe and moved to Angola as a young boy.

He created history when he was elected president at the age of 37.

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