April 26, 2017 / 1:15 PM / 9 months ago

Angolan president sets August 23 for general elections

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has signed a decree setting August 23 as the date for general elections, state radio reported on Wednesday.

Dos Santos, 74, is to step down after 38 years at the helm of a country that has become Africa’s No. 2 crude producer and third largest economy, but will retain sweeping powers as president of the ruling MPLA party after the poll.

The decree confirmed the date tentatively set on Monday by Angola’s Council of the Republic, a presidential group that consults on national decisions.

The MPLA, in power since independence in 1975, chose Defence Minister Joao Lourenco, 63, as its presidential candidate in December.

Dos Santos is a communist-trained oil engineer and veteran of the guerrilla war against Portuguese rule.

Under his tight control, Angola has seen 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 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 Andrew Roche

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