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The world's enduring dictators: Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola

Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos
Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in 2007 Getty Images

This is an installment in the WorldWatch series, "The world's enduring dictators," inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, in which takes a look at the men who continue to rule their lands unimpeded by law. See a complete explanation of the series and a list of others profiled here.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola

Length of rule: 32 years. In September 1979, dos Santos was appointed president following the surprising (natural) death of his predecessor. He has survived a long, bloody civil war to emerge as Africa's second-longest serving leader behind Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, by consolidating all political power in the diamond- and oil-rich country under his control.

Feature page: The world's enduring dictators

Most despotic acts: Angola fought on-and-off in a 27-year-long civil war that drew in several other countries, as it was seen as an important proxy fight in the Cold War at first, but devolved into an almost unending cycle of violence that has shown repercussions even today. Atrocities, including mass murder of civilians, were alleged to have been committed on both sides of the civil war. Torture and repression of ethnic minorities continue to be reported on in Angola.

Outlook for change: Dos Santos has teased the public into believing he would step down on at least one occasion, only to not do so. His control of his country's abundant natural resources have made him strong at home and earned him many friends abroad, making any departure against his will highly unlikely. The BBC describes his control as thus: "As head of the armed forces, and the police, and through his chairing of the government's cabinet meetings and his appointments of senior judges, he retains a firm grip on all aspects of power in his country, and much of the country's media is also under state control."

Angola stats:

Population: 13,338,541; Ovimbundu 37 percent, Kimbundu 25 percent, Bakongo 13 percent, mestico (mixed European and native African) 2 percent, European 1 percent, other 22 percent; Median age is 18.

Constitution and the Rule of Law: Republic; Everyday law based on Portuguese civil law system and customary law.

Economic Indicators: Overall GDP is $114.1 billion (world rank is 66); Per capita GDP is $8,700 (world rank is 118); unemployment rate not available.

Press freedom index world rank: 104

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