Campaigning officially ended Wednesday night ahead of Angola's parliamentary election after the last election plunged the country into a civil war that lasted over a decade. Friday's parliamentary election pitches President Jose Eduardo dos Santos's ruling MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) against main opposition UNITA (The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). The ruling MPLA held 129 seats of the 220 in Angola's parliament with the main UNITA party holding the remaining seats in the previous parliament. VOA'S Scott Bobb is in Angola covering the parliamentary election. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Luanda that Angolans are united and determined to ensure free and fair election, which is devoid of violence.
"Today, Thursday is a day of reflection. By law, all campaigning cease at midnight local time Wednesday night and it is a quiet day and a normal day, whereas Wednesday was a day where it was a work optional day. Many people did not go to work in order to attend the various rallies. Today Thursday, they go back to work and are in principle supposed to be thinking about their choice and who they would vote for on Friday, when they do go to the polls," Bobb noted.
He said the economy has been the major concern for all Angolans irrespective of party affiliation.
"I think all parties agree that economic issues or pocketbook issues are the major ones for most Angolan voters. There is prosperity in the sense that petroleum revenues are very high and tremendous revenues from oil, diamonds and other minerals, but yet a lot of these does not trickle down to the population in general. And on the contrary, this influx of money has caused a leaping inflation, the standard of living has declined and the middle class is hard pressed. So there is a stress on the family on the pocketbook and the individual and all parties are aware of it. But they are not quite sure how to deal with it, but in the campaigning they have expressed the need for more job creation and improving infrastructure, which has begun in earnest among others," he said.
Bobb said Angolans are unanimous to ensure that history does not repeat itself in this election.
"In 1992, they held a first round and UNITA did not win and as a result the war resumed and lasted for 10 years until after the death of Jonas Savimbi (former leader of UNITA) in 2002. And as a result, there is a great, shall I say awareness of the need for peace and all parties have been expressing the desire that this election occur and that there would be peace and tranquility and that whoever wins and whoever loses accepts the results. So, there is a sense that it is time to move on and get beyond the past, and I will say all parties will like to do that. There would be disputes, possible there would be incidents, but most people with whom I have spoken believe that they would be minor and isolated," Bobb pointed out.
Meanwhile, a two-thirds majority would allow the ruling party not only to change the constitution but also to continue to reject calls from the opposition to transfer some of the president's executive powers to the prime minister. However, Some political analysts worry that President Dos Santos wants to change the basic law to further increase his own powers.