Angolans Vote 

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Angolans voted on Wednesday in a tight race in which the main opposition coalition has its best-ever chance of victory, as millions of youth left out of its oil-fuelled booms are expected to express frustration with nearly five decades of MPLA rule.

The ruling party remains the favorite, though the margin is narrow enough for a surprise UNITA victory, which could shift relations with global superpowers – with possibly less friendly ties with Russia.

Since independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola has been run by the formerly Marxist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), led since 2017 by President Joao Lourenco.

But an Afrobarometer survey in May showed the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola’s (UNITA) opposition coalition, led by Adalberto Costa Junior, increasing its share to 22%, from 13% in 2019.

That’s still seven points behind the MPLA, but nearly half of the voters were undecided. Many youths – under 25s make up 60% of the country – are voting for the first time.

“I hope this election brings a bit of change because the country is not good as it is,” Goncalo Junior Maneco, a 25-year-old electrician, said as he waited to vote at a polling station in the Lusiada University in the capital Luanda.

President Lourenco, who is seeking re-election, voted at the same polling station surrounded by heavy security.

“We have just exercised our right to vote. It’s fast and simple. We advise all eligible citizens to do the same. In the end, we will all win, democracy wins and Angola wins,” Lourenco told reporters.

In a tense run-up to the vote for both president and parliament, UNITA urged voters to stay near polling stations after voting to reduce the risk of fraud.

Opposition leader Costa Junior was forced to vote at a polling station different from the one where he was supposed to, because of problems with registration.

BY REUTERS

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