The ruling party in Angola has claimed a widely expected election victory, setting the stage for a change of leadership after decades of authoritarian rule by the cold war veteran José Eduardo dos Santos. Though final results from Wednesday’s voting were still being counted, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) said it was on track to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority, based on its calculations. In Angola, political parties are allowed to observe the elections by posting party members at every polling station and by assimilating results, the parties attempt to predict the election outcome. Though the MPLA has yet to lose an electoral contest since a return to multiparty democracy 25 years ago, the real significance of the poll was that 74-year-old Dos Santos, who has ruled Angola for 38 years, did not stand as a presidential candidate.
His successor as president – should the MPLA projections be confirmed – will be João Lourenço, the 63-year-old defence minister and party veteran.
“We can affirm that the future president will be comrade João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço,” João Martins, MPLA secretary for political and electoral affairs, said.
The main opposition, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), disputed the MPLA’s projected result. “Looking at the trend, the MPLA won’t have a majority at all,” Unita’s parliamentary head Adalberto Costa Júnior told Reuters news agency.