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Dos Santos expected to retain power in Angola polls

Angolans went to the polls on Friday in the country’s third election since independence from Portugal in 1975. Long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was expected to win another five-year term.

Voting at Angola's more than 10,000 polling stations is reported to have been slow but much more orderly than four years ago, when voting had to be extended into a second day.

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Angola vote set to keep Dos Santos in power

"I am satisfied because the process is going smoothly throughout the country," President dos Santos said after casting his ballot at a school in Luanda.

"Today the people have the power in their hands and it is a great responsibility," he added.

With 9 million people registered to vote, no major shocks were expected with a change to the constitution meaning that the leader of the largest party becomes president.

In the last election, Dos Santos' People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won more than 80 percent of the vote.

Among the smaller and weaker opponents of the ruling party is the former rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, UNITA - which fought the MPLA during the civil war.

UNITA took only 10 percent of the vote in the 2008 elections, with leader Isaias Samakuva denouncing alleged irregularities in electoral system.

This time, UNITA has alleged that thousands of its observers were not granted accreditation and thus refused access to polling stations in the capital. Samakuva warned that he might contest the election result.

Supporters of the ruling MPLA party cheer during the party's last rally. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

MPLA supporters expect a re-election result

"I did my civic duty even if we are not satisfied with the electoral process," he told reporters after casting his ballot in a wealthy suburb.

Investement and oil wealth

Dos Santos has claimed credit for helping to bring the country out of civil war and a program of investment in public services and infrastructure. However, among the other issues being debated is the uneven distribution of oil wealth and high unemployment among youth, with low inward capital investment in Angola by outside stakeholders.

A new contender, CASA, is also standing against UNITA and the MPLA. The party was created in April by a former UNITA official and a high-profile MPLA defector.

During his rule, the Dos Santos family, particularly his daughter Isabel, has built a large international business empire. Coming to power in September 1979, he is Africa's second-longest serving head of state after President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who assumed the presidency of his country only a month earlier.

These were just Angola's third elections since the country gained independence.

The head of the National Election Commission said the first preliminary results could come as soon as Saturday, with final results expected sometime next week.

pfd,rc/sej (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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