Angolan Polls Open; Dos Santos Expected to Win

Posted August 31st, 2012 at 4:05 am (UTC-5)
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Elections are underway in Angola, where long-time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is expected to easily win another term.

Voters began heading to the polls at 7:00 am local time to cast ballots for parliamentarians who will choose the country's president for the next five years.

Mr. dos Santos' MPLA party won the last election four years ago with 82 percent of the vote, trouncing its former civil war foe UNITA and other parties.

Analysts say the party and president appear to retain their popularity despite street protests this year in Luanda for greater democracy and an end to corruption.

Mr. dos Santos has led Angola for nearly 33 years. Under his rule, the country has become Africa's second-largest oil producer. However, large numbers of Angolans remain unemployed and locked in poverty.

Authorities ignored a last-minute request from UNITA to postpone the election, to correct an alleged lack of transparency in the voting process.

In the final campaign rallies Wednesday, Mr. dos Santos said the MPLA studies and solves the country's problems. UNITA's presidential candidate Isaias Samakuva said Angolans have an “eagerness for change.”

The two parties fought a 27-year civil war after Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975. This is only the second election since the war ended in 2002.

Under Angola's system, voters choose a party, which wins seats in parliament by proportional representation. Lawmakers then choose the president.