The Angolan ruling party’s presidential candidate, Joao Lourenco, in his last message before today’s polls said he would not share presidential powers with outgoing leader Eduardo dos Santos.
Lourenco – a former Defense Minister told reporters on Tuesday that he will have all the power if elected, apparently dismissing concerns over President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ continued influence.
Dos Santos will not run, bringing an end to 38 years as head of state, but he will remain leader of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). A move most political players say is intended to ensure he still has considerable powers.
Election campaigns ended on Monday (August 21) two clear days to the opening of polls later today. Parties toured the length and breadth of the country since campaigning was opened on July 23, 2017.
The ruling MPLA party held its final rally last Saturday with its presidential candidate Joao Lourenco – its Defense Minister selling the message of continuity. According to him, the MPLA is the only one that could guarantee stability in the country.
Another opposition partly CASA-CE – seen as the third force also held its rally on the same day. The main opposition UNITA rounded up their campaign on Monday with a rally held outside of the capital, Luanda.
UNITA is led by Isais Samakuva, the 71-year-old has been its leader since 2003 and has participated in the last two elections – in 2008 and 2012. UNITA, a former rebel group transformed into a party have said they would be willing to form a coalition government with other opposition parties if the MPLA lost power.
The MPLA has since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992, won all three previous elections with a comfortable parliamentary majority. The party that wins the majority has its leader automatically being named president.
Beside MPLA, UNITA and CASA-CE (which is a breakaway faction of UNITA), there are three other parties in the race to succeed dos Santos. The FNLA and PRS all have representations in parliament. The only ‘outsider’ being the APN – a party born only 18 months ago.