Angolans eulogized former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who died Friday in Spain as a patriot.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco, who is seeking re-election in August, said the country had suffered a “big loss”. He declared five days of national mourning, starting Saturday.
“This is very sad news… He has done a lot for the country,” said Luanda resident Santos Camuenho, a 40-year-old mason.
Dos Santos was admitted to a hospital in Spain and placed in intensive care after suffering a cardiac arrest on June 23.
‘Giant tree has fallen’
Namibia’s President Hage Geingob called dos Santos an “outstanding revolutionary”.
“Another giant tree has fallen,” Geingob said.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa described him as a “decisive protagonist” in the relations with Angola’s former colonial power.
Former Portuguese prime minister and ex-head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso recalled a leader of exceptional intelligence, who was able to guarantee Angolan national unity”.
For much of his time at the head of his MPLA party, dos Santos fought a civil war.
The conflict was a Cold War hotspot, with dos Santos receiving Soviet and Cuban backing while UNITA rebels had Washington and apartheid South Africa on their side.
When the 27-year conflict ended in 2002, dos Santos led Angola away from hardline Marxism and fostered a post-war oil boom and foreign investment surge that transformed central Luanda.
“My heart is bleeding,” Nsimba Adao, a 39-year-old street vendor in Luanda, told AFP. “He brought us peace.”