Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Africa’s second-biggest oil producer for nearly four decades, has died aged 79, the Angolan presidency said on Facebook on Friday.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos ruled Angola for 38 years.

He died in the Barcelona clinic where he was hospitalised in June, more than five years after he left power in May 2017.

He was hospitalised after suffering a cardiac arrest last month and had been on life support.

Dos Santos passed away at 11.10 am (1010 GMT) Friday, the government said in a statement.

Mr dos Santos had mostly lived in Barcelona since stepping down in 2017.

Angola’s current head of state, Joao Lourenco, announced five days of national mourning starting on Friday, when the country’s flag will fly at half-mast and public events are cancelled.

Dos Santos voluntarily stepped down when his health began failing.

In public, Mr dos Santos was unassuming and even appeared shy at times.

But he was a shrewd operator behind the scenes.

He ruled Angola with an iron fist but his imprint did not survive his departure.

His daughter Isabel, dubbed the “princess” and tapped in 2016 to head the national oil company Sonangol, is now being hounded by judges and faces a slew of corruption investigations.

According to reports, his son, Filomeno has also been in prison since 2019, also for corruption.

When José Eduardo dos Santos came to power in 1979, Angola had been in the throes of civil war for four years, following its independence from Portugal.