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Dos Santos replaces defence chief

Johannesburg - Long-serving Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has replaced his powerful defence minister with the former head of the ruling party, a statement said on Wednesday.

Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco, former secretary general of the MPLA, will inherit control of the quick-spending ministry which, along with public order institutions, gobbled up 16 percent of Angola's oil-fuelled national budget last year.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko. Credit: Reuters

In 2013, Angola leapfrogged South Africa to become the continent's second-largest defence spender behind Algeria, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

During the year military spending increased by 36 percent to roughly $6.1 billion, almost on par with Mexico, Indonesia, Pakistan or Sweden.

Lourenco ran the MPLA for five years until 2003, and remains a key player in the party, sitting on the 46-member politburo.

He studied history and speaks Russian.

Lourenco replaces Candido Pereira dos Santos Van-Dunem.

Dos Santos, aged 71, has ruled the energy rich southern African state for 35 years and retains a firm grip on power, successfully playing possible successors off against each other.

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