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Angola's President Retains His Seat Following a Tight Election


Angola President Joao Lourenco shows his marked finger during the voting process at a polling station in Luanda, Angola, Aug. 24, 2022.
Angola President Joao Lourenco shows his marked finger during the voting process at a polling station in Luanda, Angola, Aug. 24, 2022.

Results from Angola’s election show the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola or MPLA will maintain its nearly half-century in power by a slim majority.

Angola’s main opposition has vowed to challenge the results of Wednesday's vote as the country’s ruling party is set to extend its reign for another five years, giving it a total of 52 years in power.

Incumbent President Joao Lourenco of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola party, known by its Portuguese acronym MPLA, has won a second five-year term in office after garnering 51% of Wednesday’s presidential vote with more than 97% of the votes tallied.

The UNITA opposition has rejected the results, calling them unreliable.

MPLA has been losing support while the opposition support has been growing in past elections.

Borges Nhamirre is a researcher for Institute for Security Studies. He says the government of President Lourenzo must change how it governs.

“This is a clear message that half of the population of Angola don't support MPLA policies and we have a very big problem in Angola; the winner takes all. So it means no matter how many votes the opposition got from the polls, MPLA will rule alone. So it's on MPLA now to listen to those people to rule not only for their supporters but to rule for all the Angolans. If that’s not going to happen, then it will be five years of a very difficult government and people contesting.”

The opposition UNITA has complained of a lack of transparency in the electoral process and disagrees with the results — which show they are losing the election.
The party, led by Adalberto Costa Junior, say they are doing their own tallying and are preparing to share their results.

The ruling party's popularity in this election had dropped by 10 percentage points from the previous election when they got 61% of the votes cast.

The MPLA lost the capital Luanda with more than 60% of the voters casting ballots in favor of the opposition.

Experts say the vote against MPLA in the Luanda province shows the electorate is demanding political change.

Nhamirre says this could herald a tough time for all Angolans.

“I think it will be difficult for them to accept this result and this will be a big challenge to MPLA on how to deal with people… How to convince people who overwhelmingly voted for the opposition that now the MPLA will rule them. I think these will be challenging times.”

The two parties have been rivals since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The two sides fought a civil war for more than 25 years, where hundreds of thousands died.

Critics of MPLA say it has failed to deliver on its promises to fight corruption and uplift people from poverty.

The opposition says it will challenge the result through legal means— and called for calm as the electoral process continues.

However, some experts and even the opposition question whether the courts can overturn the results if they discover irregularities and illegalities in the electoral process.

Aurea Mouzinho is an economist and political commentator based in Luanda. She says the opposition has limited options in its effort to challenge the results.

“Compromising 42% at this stage might not be the best thing UNITA could do for its own credibility. It could cost them in the next election cycle as people may understand as a party that agrees with what MPLA and its institutions fabricate in terms of results instead of pursuing more transparency and legitimate representation of the people’s will.”

The electoral agency has come under criticism from the opposition groups and civil society groups for its lack of transparency up to the election.

UNITA will need to challenge the results at the constitutional court after the electoral commission's official announcement of the results.