The daughter of Angola’s former president Joao Eduardo dos Santos, Isabel, has hinted at running for the presidency despite an asset freeze and accusations of diverting more than a billion dollars of state money.
It was the first time the daughter of dos Santos, who ruled Angola for 38 years, has hinted at entering politics.
João Lourenço took the helm in 2017.
In an interview with Portuguese TV channel RTP, she was asked whether she would be interested in running for president, Africa’s richest woman said: “It’s possible.”
Lourenco has cracked down on the role of his predecessor’s children, firing dos Santos from her job chairing oil firm Sonangol and her brother from the sovereign wealth fund.
Forbes magazine estimates the 46-year-old businesswoman, nicknamed “The Princess” at home, to be worth more than $2 billion, while two thirds of her compatriots live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.
She has previously described herself as an entrepreneur and not a politician.
In December 2019, dos Santos assets in Angola were frozen by her father’s successor, after accusations that she, her husband and a partner diverted more than $1 billion from Sonangol and state diamond entity Sodiam to firms where they held stakes.
She blasted the move as a “witch hunt” which, she added, formed part of an attempt to smear her father’s legacy.
In the RTP interview, she framed the accusations not just as an attack on her family but also as a way to divert attention from the current government’s failures.
“We cannot use corruption, or the supposed fight against corruption, in a selective way to neutralise who we think could be future political candidates,” she said.
Dos Santos, who lives abroad, holds significant stakes in several important Portuguese firms, including in Eurobic bank, telecoms company NOS, engineering company Efacec, and oil and gas company Galp Energia.
Isabel is the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president and his first wife, Russian-born Tatiana Kukanova, whom he met while studying in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.
With Input by Reuters