Second election since end of 27-year civil war likely to keep Eduardo dos Santos in power despite strong opposition.
Dos Santos, expected to remain president after Friday’s election, has avoided external criticism during his 33 years in power. He has an authoritarian streak a mile wide, say his foes, and has ruled his country longer than Robert Mugabe. Yet José Eduardo dos Santos is the African autocrat that perhaps the world knows least about. Despite having never been formally elected, Dos Santos has been in power in Angola for 33 years, making him Africa’s second longest-serving head of state – just behind Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
President José Eduardo dos Santos, whose party will no doubt win Friday’s election, has ruled Angola for 33 years. He once declared that democracy and human rights “do not fill up bellies.” But he has not even given ordinary Angolans bread as a substitute for freedom. In 2002, after emerging from nearly three decades of civil war, Angola’s government began an ambitious national reconstruction program carried out and financed by China. As the state’s coffers filled with oil wealth, there was general optimism that millions of impoverished Angolans would share in the peace dividends. But hope was short-lived. Mr. dos Santos hasn’t relied on Angolan workers for national reconstruction, which would create jobs and spur the economy. Instead, his regime has admitted more than 250,000 Chinese laborers on work visas. Angolans who initially complained about not getting jobs were led to believe that the Chinese would produce a miracle by building new infrastructure in record time.
As Angolans go to the polls on Friday for the third time in the country’s troubled history, Mr. Silva, for one, does not plan to vote for the party that built this city of plenty. From the slum where he spends his days, evidence of the nation’s wealth looms before his eyes, just out of reach. “Angola is a rich country, but we don’t get any of it,” said Mr. Silva, who plans to vote for an opposition party. “The people in power are eating all the money.”
Thousands stayed away from polling stations in Luanda and thousands more were unable to vote Friday in Angola’s second election in 20 years which is expected to give an easy victory to the ruling party, despite accusations of corruption and mismanagement of the country’s oil and diamond riches. Office cleaner Amalia Masungo said she chose not to vote because “they (politicians) are all bad men and I don’t think my vote will make any difference.” The government was committing “the most sophisticated fraud” by excluding local election observers from critical civil society organizations and by confusing voters with a lack of information, charged election observer Elias Isaac of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa.
Polls have closed in Angola in parliamentary elections that are expected to return the ruling party and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to power. The main opposition party plans to challenge the results.
Angolans voted on Friday for only the second time since 1992, in an election that has seen a longtime president trying to stem public anger in Africa’s second-largest oil producer. President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has never been directly elected to the office he has held since 1979, was expected to win a five-year term with the likely prospect that his ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, will secure the most seats in parliament.
Angry voters banged at the gate to a polling station which remained closed 90 minutes after voting was to start Friday in legislative elections that the ruling party is expected to win. Victory for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola , or MPLA, would give Angola’s ruler for 33 years, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, another five-year term.
Angolans have voted in the second national elections since the oil-rich country’s 27-year civil war ended a decade ago. Voting has been reported as smooth and orderly, despite fears of irregularities. Former rebel group Unita, now the main opposition party, had called for a delay. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 70, is expected to win another five-year term – he has been in power since 1979.