Angola: Dos Santos poised for another landslide victory


President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was poised to extend his 33-year rule Saturday as his party took a hefty lead in the election count, despite frustrations among the poor at being left out of Angola’s oil boom.

With 68 percent of the vote counted, his People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had 74 percent of the vote from Friday’s general elections.

The main opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) was a distant second with nearly 18 percent, and the new Casa party was third with 4.6 percent, the National Electoral Commission said.

In Luanda, the opposition fared better. The MPLA took 57 percent in the capital, with 27 percent for Unita and 12 percent for Casa. Only one-third of the vote in the city has been counted.

Angolans voted Friday for 220 members of parliament, with the leader of the winning party receiving a five-year term as president. More results are expected later Saturday.

Counting began shortly after polls closed Friday, and the process was proceeding faster than expected.

With Angolans waiting anxiously for the results, newspaper vendors were mobbed as soon as Saturday’s editions hit the streets.

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Otherwise the normally vibrant capital Luanda was strangely quiet for a second day. Friday was declared a national holiday for the elections, and shops remained shuttered on Saturday. Streets normally notorious for gridlock were mostly empty.

The MPLA, in power since independence from Portugal in 1975, took 81 percent of the vote in the last elections in 2008, the first ballot held after the 27-year civil war ended in 2002.

Dos Santos has already ruled Angola for 33 years, through the devastating civil war and then through an oil boom that over the last decade has transformed the country into one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

While his family has built a business empire, he has also ploughed billions of dollars into rebuilding the nation with new roads, schools, bridges and dams rising up from the ruins.

Public health and incomes have improved, but just over half of the country still lives in abject poverty, often in shacks without electricity or running water.

Resentment among young Angolans, as luxurious new skyscrapers fill Luanda’s skyline, has sparked protests demanding that Dos Santos step down and calling for the nation’s oil wealth to be spread more evenly.

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