Ex-president dos Santos' body lands in Angola

 In this file photo taken on January 19, 2015 Angola's President Jose Edouardo Dos Santos attends a meeting with his Democratic Republic of Congo's counterpart in Kinshasa. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Dos Santos, who ruled the oil-rich African nation with an iron fist from 1979 to 2017, died in Barcelona on July 8 at the age of 79 after suffering a cardiac arrest. 

The body of Angola's Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who died in Spain last month, arrived in Luanda on Saturday, ending a weeks-long feud over the repatriation of the ex-president's corpse.

A plane carrying the remains landed in the Angolan capital from Barcelona in the evening, AFP reporters at the scene said. 

Only a few dozen people had gathered at Luanda's airport to welcome the former president's casket. 

"I was told he was going to arrive, so I came to greet him. It was a nice welcome," said Wilson Miguel, one of those in attendance.

Several of dos Santos' children and his widow, Ana Paula, were also present. Ana Paula appeared teary as she got into a vehicle outside the airport. 

Some people clapped as the coffin wrapped in an Angolan flag was taken away followed by a convoy of black cars.

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. 

"We Angolans are proud to welcome the remains of president dos Santos, and that he can have a dignified funeral," said another attendee, Telma Pilartes. 

Dos Santos, who ruled the oil-rich African nation with an iron fist from 1979 to 2017, died in Barcelona on July 8 at the age of 79 after suffering a cardiac arrest. 

Since then, the question of when and where he will be buried has pitted the Angolan government and his widow against some of his adult children.

A Barcelona court this week ordered his remains be delivered to Ana Paula and granted authorisation for "the repatriation and international transfer of (his) remains to Angola". 

Dos Santos' 44-year-old daughter Tchize dos Santos filed an appeal to challenge the decision.

But Josep Riba Ciurana, a lawyer for the widow told AFP a judge had granted immediate execution of the ruling, allowing the body to leave Spain.

'Ripped out of my arms'

"We are the first to be surprised," said Tchize's lawyer, Carmen Varela, adding they learnt about the repatriation from television and had not been "notified of anything".  

Varela explained they wanted to hold the funeral in Barcelona because returning to Angola is not an option for some members of the family. 

Several of dos Santos' children have faced an array of corruption investigations in recent years.  

The repatriation came just a few days before Angolans are due to head to the polls in a national vote, and marks a small victory for President Joao Lourenco. 

Lourenco was addressing a large crowd of supporters at a campaign rally in Luanda as the body's imminent return was announced. 

In an Instagram post, Tchize accused the president of using her father's corpse as a campaigning tool, describing this as a "world shame". 

The nearly four-decade tenure of dos Santos saw members of his family capitalise on the nation's oil riches while most Angolans remained mired in poverty.

When he stepped down in 2017, dos Santos handed over power to Lourenco, the former defence minister.

But Lourenco quickly turned on his erstwhile patron, unleashing an anti-corruption drive to recoup billions he suspected had been embezzled under dos Santos, a campaign that has targeted the former president's family.

"You took me to the altar and... I will not be able to take you to your last (resting) place," Dos Santos' eldest daughter Isabel, who has faced a slew of investigations into her multinational business dealings, wrote in an Instagram post.

"They ripped you out of my arms."