Results trickle in after Agolan poll

2012-09-01 19:03

Provisional figures point to incumbent retaining power

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ ruling MPLA party headed yesterday for an expected comfortable win in national elections, with 74.46%, after more than half the votes had been counted, electoral officials said.

Provisional results of Friday’s vote from the electoral commission put the MPLA well ahead of its nearest rivals, with results in from nearly 60% of polling stations.

The election had been criticised by opposition leaders as one-sided and plagued with irregularities.

Under the constitution, an MPLA win means Dos Santos, who turned 70 this week, is elected for a further five-year term on top of the nearly 33 years he has already served as leader of Africa’s second-largest oil producer.

The provisional results announced yesterday gave the MPLA’s closest challenger, former rebel group Unita, 17.94%; while the the Casa-CE party was third with 4.53%.

According to the commission, the provisional turnout was just more than 57%.

It was only the third national election since Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975, and the second since the end of a 27-year civil war.

Dos Santos is under increasing pressure to let locals share in the country’s massive oil and diamond wealth. Angola has no social security system and, although health and education is free, the poor quality of services means that those who can, opt for private services.

The city centre has been transformed into a massive construction site where hundreds of hotels, office blocks and new roads are being built.

Land Rovers and Toyota Prados are in abundance while South African sparkling-wine producer JC le Roux’s billboards scream“le good life”.

On a peninsula just outside the city, beach restaurants serve drinks and food to the rich; while on the other side of the peninsula, locals eat cheaply at informal spots on the beach sands.

The more educated sectors of the population feel they deserve better than the MPLA offers, but at an MPLA rally this week, youngsters were adamant the MPLA had “liberated” them.

“They made sure there is no war any more, the president makes sure of that,” a 14-year-old teenager told City Press. The heavy presence of soldiers and police made rally attendees reluctant to give their names for fear of being reprimanded.

The civil war between the MPLA and Unita ended in 2002, with the MPLA victorious.

Memories of the war still haunt locals, who fear nothing more than a return to political insecurity.

Dos Santos knows this, and in his speech at the rally he made it clear the MPLA was the key to stability.

He promised houses and jobs for young people. “But these promises can only be fulfilled if there is stability, and don’t forget who brings stability,” he told the 10 000-strong crowd.

Dos Santos’ family holds a large part of the country’s wealth. His oldest daughter Isabel is in charge of many banking facilities and telecommunications, and another daughter Tchize presides overa media empire.

Dos Santos appointed Manuel Vicente, the former head of state oil company Sonangol, as his deputy.

Vicente is part of Dos Santos’ small inner-circle and is involved in many business ventures with the Dos Santos family.

Vicente’s appointment is seen as a way for Dos Santos to ensure his interests are protected even if he has to leave office, but there is no indication of the veteran leader stepping down.

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