151210 \Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (L) looks on during his first visit to South Africa for bilateral discussions with South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, December 14, 2010.The talks will likely result in energy and business deals between the two states as well as South Africa possibly extending a credit line to Angola in exchange for oil. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS)

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.

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. - AFP