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Angola MPLA Wahlkampagne Jose Eduardo dos Santo
Image: DW/ A. Cascais

Angolans head to the polls

August 23, 2017

Voting is underway in Angola, where Jose Eduardo dos Santos's 38-year reign is coming to an end. His MPLA party, however, is expected to stay in power under new leader Joao Lourenco.


Angolans are heading to the polls in a parliamentary election that will also determine the country's next president. Five political parties and one coalition are vying for 220 parliamentary seats.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been in power for 38 years, his Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party has ruled the southwestern African country since independence from Portugal in 1975. Dos Santos is seen as authoritarian, with many now hoping for political change amid an economic downturn triggered by a decline in Angola's most prized asset - crude oil.

Angola's Joao Lourenco
Joao Lourenco is set to take over from Jose Edouardo dos SantosImage: DW/A. Cascais

Lourenco: Economic 'mission'

His successor in the MPLA party, Joao Lourenco, has called it his "mission" to revive the country's economy, which has hit the floor since oil prices fell in 2014.

Rich in resources but poor and corrupt

"If I succeed, I would like to be recognized in history as the man of Angola's economic miracle." He will have his work cut out, with inflation standing at 40 percent and annual GDP growth in 2016 reaching a meager 1 percent.

Lourenco, aged 63, is a long-standing member of the MPLA, which fought in the struggle against former colonial power Portugal.

Under dos Santos, Angola has seen the end of civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 2002, but critics point out that corruption and poverty remain widespread, with few benefiting from Angola's wealth of oil reserves prior to the drastic fall in oil prices.

Dissent is also routinely quashed, as rights groups like Amnesty International point out. They demand an end to repression and restrictions on civil rights.

The main opposition parties, UNITA and Casa-CE, focused on the need for change in their campaigns, in the wake of police crackdowns, unemployment and biased state-run media.

"You who are suffering, you who are in poverty, without electricity, without jobs or nothing to eat - change is now," Isaias Samakuva, the UNITA leader told supporters on the campaign trail.

Polls are due to close at 6:00 p.m. local time (1700 UTC/GMT). The vote counting process may take some time, but a provisional result might be available by Friday. 

ng/msh (AFP, dpa)