LUANDA – With nearly all of the votes counted, the party of Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santos is claiming an overwhelming victory in last Friday's parliamentary elections.
According to The Associated Press,the country's electoral commission says the president's long-ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) received more than 70 percent of the vote.
African Union officials are describing the popular vote – Angola's third since receiving independence from Portugal in 1975, and the second since the end of a devastating civil war between the MPLA and UNITA forces – "free, fair, transparent and credible."
Members of the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), however, disagree, calling the elections rigged and unfair.
"[We are] concerned about the number of voters registered, and the number of people who actually voted," said UNITA spokesperson Alcides Sakala, whose party, according to officials results, will claim about 18 percent of the vote. "So the party will have a parallel recount of the vote."
Although final results aren't due to be announced until the end of the week, Friday's polling turnout was estimated at 57 percent of Angola's 9.7 million registered voters. The new opposition Casa party is estimated to have received 5.5 percent of the vote.
Mixed sentiment on the streets
In power since 1979, the president's MPLA party has been criticized for corruption and unfair distribution of the country's oil's benefits.
Although he party and the president faced small-scale street protests earlier this year, the majority of Angolans seem to support, or at least accept, having the 70-year-old dos Santos return to office for a five-year term.
In the main square of one Luanda slum, Rita, a dos Santos supporter who sells wood and charcoal in view of a construction site – tall new office buildings rising above the shacks – says life is not easy here.
"The president made some good things, like new roads, but [he] destroyed shacks in the process," she says, explaining that after 33 years of MPLA rule, other options are hard to imagine, and that she values stability.
Angola has developed into Africa's second-largest oil producer under dos Santos' rule, although many of the nation's 19 million people live in poverty.