Angola’s long dominated party faces tough election

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 dissatisfaction 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 welcomed, 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.

The red, black and yellow of the MPLA dominates with its slogan “the strength of the people”. UNITA’s red and green colours can also be seen in some parts of the city with posters proclaiming that “the time is now”.

Some analysts are saying that people are starting to imagine a different party in power.

“The general sentiment is that the country is ready for things to change,” economist, Âurea Mouzinho, told the BBC.

“People are much more matured and less afraid that they want things to be different.”

The last time things were this close was in 1992 when the president at the time, José Eduardo Dos Santos, faced the leader of the UNITA rebel group, Jonas Savimbi. -BBC

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