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Angolan Ruling Party Seems Headed for Landslide Victory in Parliamentary Elections

Angola's ruling party appears headed for a landslide victory as election officials count the votes from parliamentary elections on Friday and Saturday. With nearly three-fourths of the ballots counted (74.9 percent), the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA, has received more than 81 percent of the vote while the opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola, UNITA, has about 10 percent. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Luanda.

Voters in Angola have delivered a resounding endorsement to the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the MPLA, which has governed since independence.

The opposition Union for the Total Liberation of Angola, called UNITA, ran a distant second. UNITA leader Isaias Samakuva said his party had filed a protest with the Electoral Commission over what he said were numerous flaws.

He says as a result, the election results might not accurately reflect the will of the Angolan people. But he urged his supporters to remain calm and said his party remained committed to peace, democracy and reconstruction.

Voting was extended for a second day Saturday after many polling stations failed on Friday to open on time and others ran out of ballot papers.

A group of observers from the Pan-African Parliamentary Union Sunday, listed more than one-dozen flaws. But one of its delegates, Johnson Bartile Toskin of Uganda, said there was no sign of violence.

"We are very satisfied with the conduct of the elections in Angola," Toskin said. "We are very appreciative with the enthusiasm of the Angolan people and we can say that all in all the elections were free and fair."

The Plataforma network of Angolan observer groups fielded 1300 monitors across the country. It recorded six incidents of violence or intimidation and more than 400 other irregularities, mostly due to a lack of voting materials. But a spokesperson, Sizaltina Cutaia, said there was no evidence of coercion.

"There are issues which we are going to write specific recommendations for, but we definitely cannot say that there has been coercion," she said. "So what we are saying is that the environment was conducive for people to democratically and freely elect their representatives."

Observers from the southern African community, SADC, also expressed general satisfaction with the process despite the complaints.

These were the second multi-party elections in the nation's history and the first since a peace accord ended Angola's 27-year civil war.

Voters appeared to endorse the government's use of revenues from the booming petroleum industry to accelerate the reconstruction of roads, railways and education and health services.

UNITA and 12 other opposition parties campaigned on the need for change after three decades of MPLA rule.

More than 5,000 candidates competed for the 220 seats in the national assembly. Each party was given air-time on state-owned broadcasting media to present its platform.

But opposition parties and some human rights organizations accused the government of using patronage and its influence over the media to favor the ruling party.

The vote is seen as a forerunner of presidential elections due next year.