Joao Lourenco, presidential candidate for the ruling MPLA party, votes in Luanda, Angola, on Wednesday. Picture: REUTERS
Joao Lourenco, presidential candidate for the ruling MPLA party, votes in Luanda, Angola, on Wednesday. Picture: REUTERS

Luanda — Angola’s governing party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), said it was on track to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority, based on its own numbers, as votes were still being tallied ahead of an expected release of results later on Thursday.

Angola held a smooth election on Wednesday, with the MPLA’s former defence minister, Joao Lourenco, expected to be voted in as the first new president in 38 years.

In Angola, political parties are allowed to observe the elections by posting party members at every polling station, and by assimilating results, the parties attempt to foretell the outcome.

He did not rule out negotiating with the IMF or the World Bank to establish an economic miracle

The MPLA calculated that after 5-million votes had been checked it was on course for a two-thirds majority, said João Martins, party secretary for political and electoral affairs.

"We can affirm that the future president will be comrade João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço," Martins said.

However, the main opposition, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), said it had counted 2-million votes and the MPLA had won 47.6% and Unita 40.2%. There were 9-million Angolans registered to vote.

"Looking at the trend, the MPLA won’t have a majority at all," said Unita’s parliamentary head Adalberto Costa Júnior.

Should the MPLA win, Lourenço, a quiet 63-year-old more used to army barracks and the closed doors of party politics than the public spotlight, would replace veteran leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos. However, Dos Santos would remain as head of the party, giving him potentially sweeping powers over decision-making.

Outgoing Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos greets crowds at the ruling MPLA party's final election rally in Luanda, Angola. Picture: REUTERS
Outgoing Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos greets crowds at the ruling MPLA party's final election rally in Luanda, Angola. Picture: REUTERS

Dos Santos Dynasty

Dos Santos, 74, steps down after guiding Angola from Marxism to capitalism while embracing Chinese oil-for-infrastructure investment. His daughter Isabel heads national energy firm Sonangol and his son, José Filomeno is in charge of the $5bn state investment fund.

The MPLA, which has ruled Angola since independence from Portugal in 1975, has lost some support due to cronyism, though many Angolans remain loyal to the party that emerged victorious from 27 years of civil war in 2002.

Lourenço has vowed to focus on fixing Angola’s economy which has been devastated by the fall in the price of oil. The economy contracted 3.6% in 2016 and is expected to post only minor growth in 2017.

On Tuesday, Lourenço said he did not rule out negotiating with the IMF or the World Bank as he sought to establish an "economic miracle" in Angola.

"We assess that the next president will seek closer co-operation with the IMF," Robert Besseling, analyst at Exx Africa, said in a note on Thursday.

"It is likely that Lourenço’s presidency will be marked initially by continuity and moderate changes in policy."

In the early hours of Thursday, the National Electoral Commission said 15 polling stations had failed to open on Wednesday due to transport issues and that about 1,300 people would vote on Saturday instead. The commission spokesperson said the incident would not affect the release of partial results.

An unofficial result is expected by Friday.

But there may be no formal announcement for two weeks as ballot boxes wend their way along pot-holed roads and dirt tracks to be collated.

Reuters

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