Home World Africa The ruling party in Angola declares victory; the opposition disputes the results

The ruling party in Angola declares victory; the opposition disputes the results

Fewer than half of Angola's registered voters turned out for the election [Siphiwe Sibek/Reuters]

The ruling MPLA party in Angola claims victory in the election, while the opposition rejects the results.

The electoral commission reported that the governing party in Angola received 51 percent of the vote, but the head of the main opposition coalition rejected the results.

Less than half of Angola’s registered voters participated in the election on Wednesday, which appears to have given President Joao Lourenco a second five-year term and extended the rule of the Marxist MPLA, which has ruled the southern African oil producer since its independence from Portugal in 1975.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, had received 44.5 percent of the vote as of Thursday, according to the election commission, which reported that more than 97 percent of the votes had been counted. The MPLA had a 51 percent majority.

“We’ve achieved yet another overwhelming majority. In the capital Luanda, a city that overwhelmingly supported UNITA, MPLA spokesman Rui Falcao said at a news conference, “We have a calm majority to govern without any kind of problem, and we will do it.

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However, UNITA leader Costa Junior rejected what he called “brutal” discrepancies between the commission’s count and their own tally when speaking to journalists and supporters for the first time since the vote.

The MPLA did not win the elections, he insisted, “there is not the slightest doubt in my mind.” The provisional results are “not recognized by UNITA.”

Junior demanded that the results be reviewed by an international commission.

The election in Angola on Wednesday was the most closely contested yet, and the opposition made unprecedented gains in parliamentary seats.

Junior urged Angolans to maintain composure because there are worries that any disagreement could spark violence.

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voter turnout was low

Junior must file a grievance with the commission; if it is dismissed, Junior may appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court, which must render a decision on the case within 72 hours.

After independence, there was an intermittent civil war fought between the MPLA and UNITA, two former anti-colonial rebel organizations, that lasted until 2002.

If the results stand, UNITA will have, for the first time, denied the MPLA the two-thirds majority required to pass significant reforms; instead, the ruling party will need the support of other lawmakers.

The fact that so few people turned out to cast ballots to decide between the two political parties that have dominated Angolan politics since independence was perhaps even more telling. The results of the election were announced on Friday, and 45.65 percent of eligible voters participated.

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In his second term, Lourenço, 68, has promised to continue reforms, which will likely include privatizing mismanaged public assets. However, despite his promises of a fairer distribution of wealth in Africa’s second-largest oil producer, many Angolans continue to live in poverty. This fact benefited UNITA, which was well-liked by poor, jobless young people.

On its official Instagram account, UNITA shared a photo of Junior along with the caption, “The President.” Lourenço thanked Angolans in a video that the MPLA shared on social media.

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