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After the death of Angola's first president, Agostinho Neto, on 10 September 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos was elected president of the MPLA on 20 September 1979, and he took office as President of Angola, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on 21 September.

He was also elected as President of the People's Assembly on 9 November 1980.

His escort opened fire killing two passengers in the vehicle, and weapons were found on board.

This incident has not been confirmed by any other source.

Upon Angolan independence in November 1975, the MPLA held power in Luanda, but the new MPLA government faced a civil war with the other political formations, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA).

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UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi and supported by South Africa and the United States, never fully recognized the legitimacy of MPLA as the ruling government of Angola and triggered several armed conflicts over the years to express its opposition.

One of the world's most remote places has became a little less isolated when the first commercial flight departed for St Helena, a South Atlantic island that until recently was only accessible by boat and where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last years in exile.

Angola's recent election results showed the ruling MPLA losing support across the country.

At the MPLA's First Congress in December 1977, Eduardo dos Santos was re-elected to the Central Committee and Politburo.

In December 1978, he was moved from the post of First Deputy Prime Minister in the government to that of Minister of Planning.