For the first time in 38 years, Angolans went to the polls to vote in a new president. After being ruled by Eduardo Dos Santos for over three decades, many Angolans who were yet to experience a democratic process trooped in to cast their votes in a closely watched election under the gaze of the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and other international bodies.
About 9.2 million voters were reported to have been registered in the third elections in the history of Angola, a country of 28 million people. After a 27 year civil war that ended in 2002, the country is still battling economic crisis and large corruption. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) is the ruling party and has ruled Angola since 1975, when the country gained independence from Portugal.
The MPLA party presidential candidate João Lourenço pledged to fight corruption and boost the economy after the country was hit by a recession. Though expected to win, many still doubt if Lourenço will be the one calling the shots in government.
The personality of the former president, Dos Santos still looms large in the political climate of the country. Dos Santos still remains the chairman of MPLA and is said to still have a say in decision making.
Dos Santos’ decision to step down from politics made him the second longest serving president in Africa. Whether this decision will influence other leaders on the continent who have clung to power for decades to step down, it’s still unknown. However, the Dos Santos dynasty is still intact, with the outgoing president’s son and daughter holding strategic positions in government parastatals. Dos Santos’ daughter, Isabel, heads national oil producer Sonangol and his son José Filomeno is in charge of the $5 billion state investment fund.
In the past few weeks, Kenya, Rwanda and Angola have gone to the polls with the opposition parties in Kenya and Angola contesting the credibility of the elections.
Six parties contested the August 23 election in Angola. The main opposition party, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) which was backed by United States and South Africa fought against the MPLA, which was backed by Russia during the civil war.