Elections in Angola: the ruling party wins a narrow victory, Lourenço reappointed
Angola’s ruling party has won the legislative elections, giving incumbent President Joao Lourenço a second term in the tightest ballot in the country’s history.
In power since independence from Portugal in 1975, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won 51.17% of the vote, according to the final results announced Monday by the National Electoral Commission (CNE).
The first opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), totals 43.95% of the votes cast in the polls held on Wednesday.
“The CNE proclaims Joao Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic,” said the commission’s chairman, Manuel Pereira da Silva.
Welcoming this “vote of confidence”, Mr. Lourenço, 68, promised “dialogue and consultation” in front of supporters gathered at party headquarters in the capital Luanda.
The MPLA, which won hands down in 2017 with 61% of the vote, thus recorded its lowest score. In 2012, he collected 71.84% of the votes.
He retains an absolute majority in Parliament with 124 seats out of 220. But he loses the two-thirds majority which until now allowed him to pass laws without the support of another party.
Several members of the CNE did not sign the final results. The opposition disputed the preliminary results last week which already gave the MPLA the winner. The parties have 72 hours after the announcement of the final results to challenge them.
With the control of the party in power on the electoral process and the public media, the opposition and part of public opinion had mentioned the risk of fraud before the election.
Foreign observers expressed last week their “concerns” in particular about the electoral lists.
– Desire for change –
Driven by a growing desire for “change” in a country rich in natural resources, but plunged into serious economic difficulties, the opposition is stronger than ever with 90 deputies in Parliament.
With promises of reform, the fight against poverty and corruption, the party of Adalberto Costa Junior, 60, has particularly won over young people, a growing part of the electorate.
The generation born after the civil war that ended in 2002 (500,000 dead in 27 years) is no longer as attached to the MPLA as its elders.
More than half of the 33 million Angolans live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
In the streets of Luanda, calm reigned after the announcement of the results. Riot trucks were present, however, AFP journalists noted.
The day before, the country paid a last tribute to the ex-president, José Eduardo dos Santos, during a national funeral. The former head of state, who died last month in Barcelona, marked the history of the country with 38 years of authoritarian rule (1979 to 2017), marred by accusations of corruption and nepotism.
Thanks to the laws granting him broad judicial immunity adopted before his departure, he was never bothered by the courts. But his relatives have been targeted by a vast anti-corruption campaign.
Mr. Lourenço, former loyal dolphin of dos Santos, had surprised by launching a clean hands operation from the start of his mandate. But many believe that this campaign served him to settle scores with the dos Santos clan, which for its part denounced a “witch hunt”.
Less than half of the approximately 14.4 million registered voters took part in the ballot. A total of eight parties were in the running.
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