Angola election: Ruling party lead narrows

Updated provisional results in Angola’s elections suggest that the governing MPLA’s earlier strong lead has receded.

The National Election Commission said that with 86 per cent of the votes counted, President João Lourenço’s party – which has been in power for four decades – has received just over 52 per cent.

The opposition movement, UNITA, has just under 43 per cent.

UNITA earlier said that its provisional data suggested it was leading in the poll.

Analysts had predicted a close result.

The African observer mission (ICGLR) praised the peaceful conduct of the elections and urged all political parties to respect the outcome.

The MPLA has been criticized for not tackling inflation, poverty and unemployment, despite huge oil wealth.

Angola’s election on Wednesday is expected to be the most closely fought since independence in 1975.

With the MPLA in charge for more than four decades, it might be hard to imagine that it could lose its place at the pinnacle of power.

But it is facing a growing wave of discontent fuelled by high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Despite Angola being rich in oil and minerals, many have not benefitted from that wealth.

And while the 20 years of peace after a protracted civil war have been welcome, they have not brought the gains that many hoped for.

There are eight parties taking part, but the MPLA’s main opponent is UNITA – a one-time rebel movement.

It is seeking to capitalise on the unhappiness as the nearly 15 million registered voters pick their president and parliament for the next five years.

The large number of challengers to the MPLA could fracture the opposition vote, but this time UNITA has formed an informal coalition with civil society groups and activists to broaden its appeal.

Voters will cast one ballot and the leader of the party with the most votes will become the president.

The capital, Luanda, is plastered with party propaganda. Large billboards with the faces of presidential candidates are scattered around the city, where on campaign days the streets are filled with music in an attempt to entice the voters. -BBC

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