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Angola’s Dos Santos Likely to Be Picked as MPLA Candidate

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving leader, will probably be chosen this month as the ruling party’s presidential candidate for September’s election, a party spokesman said.

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola’s political bureau, its executive body, will meet at the end of this month to decide on its candidate, Rui Falcao de Andrade said in a telephone interview yesterday from Luanda, the capital.

“The fact that the president has said he is available to run for president will weigh on our decision,” de Andrade, who is one of the political bureau’s 47 members, said. “What we want is political stability.”

Dos Santos, 69, may extend his 32-year rule in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer as the MPLA, which holds 181 of Parliament’s 220 seats, is expected to win the legislative vote, scheduled for Sept. 5, because of its nationwide dominance. He announced in November that he is available to stand amid youth protests against his leadership and increasing speculation that he could step down.

Angola is a former Marxist state that was gripped by 27 years of civil war between the MPLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, known as Unita, until 2002. Unita warned in October of “rising social tension” ahead of the vote.

The government has forecast oil production of 1.8 million barrels of crude a day this year. Companies operating in the southern African nation include Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Plc and Total SA.

Possible Successor

“The succession of dos Santos is the greatest possible source of instability in Angola,” Alex Vines, Africa director at London-based international affairs researcher Chatham House, said in a phone interview today.

The MPLA spokesman’s comments “takes some of the heat” out of that possible source of instability, he said. “A likely scenario is that he will consider stepping down sometime after being elected. The number two spot is still up for grabs.”

Manuel Domingos Vicente, the 55-year-old former head of state-owned oil company Sonangol EP who was appointed minister of economic co-ordination on Jan. 30, is a “possible” vice presidential candidate and successor to dos Santos, de Andrade said.

“We have never denied it,” he said. “The MPLA needs to prepare its members for any succession of power. Vicente is one possible candidate along with the other members of the political bureau.”

The MPLA won 82 percent of the vote in the 2008 election, which was the first since the end of the war.

“There is no opposition in Angola,” de Andrade said when asked about MPLA’s chances in the election. “The MPLA has six million registered militants in a universe of nine million voters.”

Angola’s kwanza was little changed at 94.80 against the dollar as of 11:55 a.m. in Luanda.

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