Party leaders, Angola’s president ready for second term

Results published by the country’s electoral commission gave the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola 51.07 percent of the vote and more than 97 percent of the votes were counted.

This is significantly lower than his previous performance, where he achieved 61 percent.

The main opposition group, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, led by Adalberto Costa Jr, stood at 44.05 percent — a huge jump of 26.67 percent in the 2017 election.

The leader of the winning party automatically ascends to the presidency in the oil-rich former Portuguese colony.

A senior member of the opposition party and former rebel movement told a news conference that the official results did not match their own parallel count.

“We hope there can be common sense, we do not encourage an insurrection, the process is not over yet, we must remain calm,” said Anastacio Sicato.

The ruling party has seen a steady decline in support during the recent peacetime elections. In 2012, it took the win with 71.84 percent against UNITA’s 18.66 percent. In 2008, the MPLA won 81.64 percent.

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The number of seats in parliament fell from 150 in the last election to 124, while UNITA’s nearly doubled to 90 from 51 of the 220 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

The MPLA has ruled Angola for nearly 50 years since the country gained independence in 1975, before a civil war broke out that lasted 27 years and claimed at least 500,000 lives.

Angola introduced multi-party elections in 1992.

But Jose Eduardo dos Santos of the MPLA, first elected in 1979, remained in office until 2017, when Lourenco succeeded him for an initial five-year term.

The latest elections were overshadowed by a struggling economy, inflation, poverty and drought, exacerbated by the death of dos Santos in Spain last month.

“MPLA leads the count,” read the front page of the state newspaper Jornal de Angola on Thursday.

Residents of the ocean capital Luanda reacted to the preliminary results with mixed feelings.

“I voted for UNITA and I don’t believe in these results,” said Jorge, a 40-year-old mechanic who did not give his last name, accusing the Election Commission of being in cahoots with the ruling party.

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“The country isn’t going to change, it’s always the same story.”

Lourenco, a 68-year-old former general trained in the Soviet Union, is credited with sweeping reforms since he came to power.

These include promoting financial transparency and efficiency, fighting nepotism and corruption, and promoting business-friendly policies to attract foreign investors.

Critics say his anti-graft crusade is one-sided and aimed at settling political scores, targeting children and cronies of his predecessor.

– Fear of messing –

But his party supporters radiate pride in the party formerly supported by the Soviet Union.

“I’m happy, the MPLA has given young people opportunities, there is more work and transparency,” said 27-year-old shopkeeper Madalena Antonio, commenting on the initial results.

“The government has done what it could do. Things will get better.”

The MPLA has traditionally been in control of the electoral process, and state media, opposition and citizen groups have heightened fears of voter manipulation.

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Results of previous elections, including 2017, have been disputed — a process that could take several weeks.

UNITA’s deputy leader Abel Chivukuvuku previously said the party’s own count showed it was moving forward.

There is a “clear preliminary indication of a winning trend for UNITA across all provinces,” he told a live-streamed news conference on Wednesday.

More than 14 million people were registered to vote.

A team of observers from the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries stated that the elections were organized in accordance with international requirements and Angolan laws.

Angola is the second largest producer of crude oil in Africa, but the oil bonanza also fueled corruption and nepotism under dos Santos.

Dos Santos will be buried on Sunday, which would have been his 80th birthday.

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