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Former president Dos Santos’s body arrives in Angola amid tense election campaign

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By Aljazeera

The body of Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who died in Spain in July, has arrived in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

The repatriation of the former president’s corpse on Saturday comes amid atense election campaign and ended a weeks-long feud between the Angolan government, dos Santos’s widow and some of his children over when and where he would be buried.

A few dozen people gathered at Luanda’s airport to welcome the casket of the former leader, who had ruled Angola from 1979 to 2017.

Some clapped as the coffin, draped in the Angolan flag, was taken away followed by a convoy of black cars, while more came out on the streets to watch the convoy pass by. Some cheered, others chanted “Ze Du!”, dos Santos’s nickname, footage posted on social media showed.

“The remains of Jose Eduardo dos Santos have arrived in Angola after a long waiting period,” Marcy Lopes, a government minister, told reporters shortly after the casket was taken off the airplane.

The funeral is likely to take place on August 28, Dos Santos’ birthday, said Rui Falcao, a spokesperson for the ruling MPLA party.

In this file photo taken on September 26, 2017 incumbent Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos waves as he arrives to attend the swearing in ceremony for the newly elected Angolan President in Luanda.
In this file photo taken on September 26, 2017 incumbent Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos waves as he arrives to attend the swearing in ceremony for the newly elected Angolan President Joao Lourenco in Luanda [File: Ampe Rogerio/ AFP]

 

There have been weeks of uncertainty over the former president’s final resting place. Dos Santos, died on July 8 at the age of 79 at a clinic in Barcelona, where he was being treated following a long illness.

Lawyers representing dos Santos’s daughter, Tchize, had successfuly requested a full autopsy citing alleged “suspicious circumstances” of his death, without providing evidence, and had asked for him to be buried in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

A Spanish judge ruled on Wednesday that the death was from natural causes, ruling out foul play, and allowed the release of dos Santos’s remains to his widow, Ana Paula.

The judge also granted authorisation for “the repatriation and international transfer of (dos Santos’s) remains to Angola”.