Angola vote quiet

2012-09-01 12:16
Angolans queue at a voting station in Kicolo, Luanda, Angola to cast their ballots. (AP Photo/Str)

Angolans queue at a voting station in Kicolo, Luanda, Angola to cast their ballots. (AP Photo/Str)

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Luanda - Electoral officials on Saturday were tallying the ballots in Angola's third polls since independence in 1975, with the first results expected late in the day.

Angolan state television on Saturday broadcast images of the vote from across the country, praising the smooth conduct of the ballot - only the second since the end of a 27-year civil war.

Luanda's provincial police chief, Elisabeth Ranque Franque, told the official news agency Angop that no major incidents had been reported on Friday.

Final results, and even the turnout figure, are only expected next week in the elections for 220 members of parliament. The leader of the winning party will become president.

The ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), in power since independence from Portugal 37 years ago, is widely expected to sweep to victory.

That would hand another five years in office to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, whose 33 years in power have made him the second-longest serving leader in Africa.

At the helm of the continent's second-largest oil producer, Dos Santos's family has built up a business empire but also poured billions of dollars into rebuilding the country with new roads, schools, bridges and dams.

His party took 81% of the vote in 2008 elections, crushing the main opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita).

With only 10% of votes in the last poll, Unita needs a strong showing to prove it remains relevant, particularly after a bruising split that saw a top party official form the new Casa party with a high-profile defector from the MPLA.

Unita leader Isaias Samakuva has raised concerns about the accrediting of electoral observers and the authenticity of the 9.7 million names on the voter roll.

He campaigned on promises to build a better democracy, but it is unclear if that message had more resonance than Casa's campaign promises of better jobs and homes.

Former Cape Verde president Pedro Verona Pires, chief of the African Union's observer team, described the poll's organisation as "satisfactory" and said that initial reports showed the voting had proceeded well.

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