|December 12, 2003
The ruling MPLA held its 5th Congress in Luanda from 6 to 10 December, during which it re-elected the current Head of State of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, to the position of President of the party. It is highly likely that President dos Santos will now stand as the MPLA candidate in the future presidential elections.
On 9 December the Congress, attended by 1,408 delegates, elected a new Central Committee, which has been expanded from 251 members to 281. A decision had been taken before the Congress that 42 percent of the old Central Committee would be replaced by new faces.
Several senior figures in the party have been left off the Central Committee. Lucio Lara had written to the Central Committee asking to be removed from the list of candidates due to health reason. Lara is also going to stand down from the Angolan parliament, the National Assembly. Other politicians left out of the Central Committee are the Governor of Benguela province, Dumilde Rangel, former member of MPLA politburo Jose Leitao, and former Prime Minsiters Lopo do Nascimento, and Marcolino Moco and França Van-Dunem. Among those entering the Central Committee are Valentim Amoes, and the Deputy Foreign Minister George Chikoti.
An innovation of the Congress was the creation of the post of vice-president. The post of secretary general of the party will continue, but will be reduced to a more administrative position. The vice-president and secretary-general will be elected by the first sitting of the Central Committee on 12 December. It is thought that the vice-president will be in the prime position to take over from President dos Santos when he decides to stand down. (ACTSA, London)