* Party condemns rumours of Dos Santos' ill-health
* General election due in 2017
* Weak oil prices have hit Angola economy
* Critics accuse him of mismanaging oil wealth
(Adds party official, analyst, details)
By Herculano Coroado
LUANDA, Dec 2 Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos
Santos, who has been in power since 1979, will not stand for
re-election at national polls due to be held next year, a ruling
party document showed on Friday.
Joao Lourenco, the defence minister and vice president of
the ruling MPLA party, was approved by its key decision-making
body as its standard bearer to succeed Dos Santos after the
president proposed him a day earlier.
The party said on Thursday that rumours circulating in
social media that Dos Santos was ill were untrue.
Angolans have long speculated about the president's next
move since he said last March that he would stand down in 2018.
The next parliamentary election is due in 2017 and the
leader of the winning party will then become president.
MPLA leader Dos Santos, a communist-trained oil engineer,
was re-appointed to a new five-year term in 2012 after his party
won a landslide win. After his announcement in March, it was
widely assumed that he would run for re-election next year and
then stand down in 2018.
"Our goal is to win the elections with qualified majority or
at least with absolute majority," Dos Santos told the party's
central committee at a meeting in Luanda in March.
"And the secret rests in the discipline, in the union and
cohesion of everybody around our candidates in the process of
the electoral campaign and in the moment of voting," he said.
Angola, a member of OPEC and currently Africa's top oil
producer, has been hit hard by the slump in global crude prices.
Oil export revenues account for more than 90 percent of its
foreign exchange revenues.
Sub-Saharan Africa's third largest economy has held
discussions with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund
about possible financial assistance.
A senior party official who asked not be named said the
proposal to put forward Lourenco as the party's presidential
candidate was yet to be formally made public, as his selection
had not yet been communicated to the MPLA's grassroots.
Analyst Luis Jimbo, director of the Angolan Institute for
Electoral Systems and Democracy, said Dos Santos's decision came
as a surprise.
Jimbo said the president had been expected to run as the
leader of the MPLA, adding that "this was possibly a last-hour
decision" by Dos Santos who felt he did not have the strength to
run a campaign.
Critics accuse Dos Santos - Africa's second longest ruling
leader after Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mbasogo - of mismanaging Angola's oil wealth and making an
elite, mainly his family and political allies, vastly rich in a
country ranked amongst the world's most corrupt.
His inscrutable public demeanour belies his tight control of
Angola, a former Portuguese colony where he has overseen an
oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of
infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in
2002. But growth has stalled sharply as oil prices fell.
(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Tom Heneghan)