Angola’s Bleak Economy Fails to Dislodge the Ruling MPLA From Power

Angola’s Bleak Economy Fails to Dislodge the Ruling MPLA From Power
Angola President Joao Lourenco shows his marked finger during the voting process at a polling station in Luanda, Angola, Aug. 24, 2022 (AP photo).

Voters in Angola cast ballots in Wednesday’s general election to give President Joao Lourenco and his ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, another five-year mandate in office. The MPLA, which has ruled the oil-rich country since it won its independence from Portugal in 1975, faced a formidable challenge from the main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, making this week’s election the country’s closest in at least three decades. The MPLA and UNITA have been rivals since before independence and fought on opposing sides of a brutal, decadeslong civil war that began in 1975 and continued intermittently until 2002.

Angola’s electoral commission declared today that the MPLA had won 51 percent of the vote and UNITA approximately 44 percent. UNITA officials have questioned the validity of the results, claiming that the vote suffered from irregularities, and have yet to concede defeat. The party that wins a simple majority of the 220 seats in Angola’s legislature will select the president. An MPLA victory will extend the party’s 47-year hold on political power and grant Lourenco a second term.

The MPLA’s win occurred despite it facing tougher-than-expected terrain. This week’s election was the fourth since the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002. Even though the ruling party was mostly favored to hold on to its majority, its vote share was considerably lower than the 61 percent it won in the 2017 election, while UNITA’s was up from the 27 percent it scored that year.

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