Angolans voted Wednesday in an election in which the defense minister is the front-runner to succeed President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who will step down after 38 years in power in an oil-rich country beset by widespread poverty and corruption. About 9.3 million Angolans were registered to vote for the 220-member National Assembly; the winning party will then select the president. Dos Santos’ chosen successor is Joao Lourenco, the defense minister and a former governor who fought in the war against Portuguese colonial rule as well as the long civil war that ended in 2002. Dos Santos, accompanied by wife Ana Paula dos Santos, and Lourenco voted separately in Luanda, the capital, reported the state-run Agencia Angola Press. The main opposition leader, Isaias Samakuva of the UNITA party, cast his ballot at a university in a Luanda suburb.
Minor flaws in the voting process included delays in the opening of some polling stations, especially in remote areas, said Andre da Silva Neto, president of the election commission.
The peaceful election, however, could serve as “an example to follow in those countries where, especially here in Africa, we constantly find that electoral processes are transformed into battlefields. Unnecessary deaths and unnecessary damage,” said the election chief, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
Angolan rights activists have alleged that the ruling MPLA party unfairly used state machinery ahead of the election, noting that most media coverage focused on the MPLA campaign. Opposition parties have said there were irregularities ahead of the voting.