Reuters International

Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos shows off his inked finger to photographers after casting his vote during national elections in the capital Luanda, August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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LUANDA (Reuters) - Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is the only candidate for the presidency of the ruling MPLA, the party's central committee has said, according to state media.

The move ends speculation that Dos Santos, who has ruled the oil-rich southern African nation since 1979, might not make himself available.

Dos Santos said in March he intended to step down in 2018 but gave no reason for his decision and did not name a preferred successor. The MPLA's convention where its top leader is anointed will be held in August and the general elections are due in late 2017.

The leader of the winning party will then become president.

"MPLA presidency post takes responsibilities that demand strong leadership qualities ... qualities recognised in the militant Jose Eduardo dos Santos," said a supporting motion to Dos Santos' candidacy by the MPLA Central Committee that is preparing the August party convention.

This effectively means Dos Santos is the only candidate.

Angola has been hit hard by the slump in global crude prices, which has ramped up pressure on its kwanza currency and ignited inflation.

(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Toby Chopra)

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