NewsSouthern AfricaAngola will have a new president for the first time in four decades

Fri,24Nov2017

Posted on Friday, 18 August 2017 11:54

Angola will have a new president for the first time in four decades

By Reuters

Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping  in Beijing, June 9, 2015. Photo: Wang Zhao/AP/SIPAAngola goes to the polls on August 23 and the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) is fielding a different candidate for the first time in 38 years.

 

Sixty two-year-old Joao Lourenco steps into the shadow of Africa's second longest-running leader Jose Eduardo Dos Santos who is not running for president of the country but retains control of the powerful ruling party.

Lourenco will face Dos Santos' long-time rival, leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Isaias Samakuva.

UNITA won just 18%  in the last election in 2012 and the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won a landslide 72%.

With Angola in the midst of an economic crisis caused by a fall in oil prices, the opposition is hoping to improve its tally, though a lack of credible polling in the country makes the result unpredictable.

Samakuva has said he is willing to form a coalition government with other opposition parties after elections next Wednesday if MPLA loses power for the first time since independence in 1975.

UNITA is campaigning on a broad platform for change, promising to increase spending on education and health, combat corruption and open the economy to more foreign investment.

Dos Santos led an oil-backed economic boom and the reconstruction of infrastructure devastated by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

Mismanagement of oil wealth

Then the country slipped into recession last year with the economy contracting 3.6%, according to government data that was published online in April but later removed.

Unemployment is over 20%

Critics accuse Dos Santos of mismanaging Angola's oil wealth and making an elite, mainly his family and political allies, vastly rich in a country ranked amongst the world's most corrupt.

Angolans in the streets of the capital Luanda are cautiously optimistic of the prospects of life under a new president for the first time in nearly four decades.

"My opinion is that we need to have a free and fair election so we can have better education systems and healthcare. I do not care who wins, I just want better living conditions for all of us. This is the most important. Angolans should not live as foreigners in their own country," said one resident.

The European Union has scrapped plans to observe the elections after Luanda failed to agree to a package of conditions, including access to all parts of the country during the poll, it said in July.

Samakuva said UNITA would have party members at every polling station to monitor the count.



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