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Angolan voters head to polls in highly competitive election

A supporter of Angolan opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) holds a party flag during the UNITA final campaign rally ahead of general elections, in Luanda, on Aug 22, 2022.
(JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

LUANDA – Some 14.3 million Angolan voters are expected to cast ballots to elect the country's president and members of the National Assembly Wednesday.

Eight candidates running on the tickets of seven political parties and a coalition will compete in this year's general election, believed to be a closely fought election since democratic elections were first introduced in the country in 1992.

According to the National Electoral Commission (CNE), there are 14.3 million registered voters for this year's general election, which will also include the participation of overseas voters, with 22,560 citizens expected to vote from abroad. The expansion of voting rights to the diaspora, who are voting for the first time, also feeds into expectations of greater competitiveness

The voters

Angola achieved independence from Portugal in 1975 after a protracted anti-colonial struggle. Its population had grown to 32.87 million as of 2021. The country's constitution stipulates that voters must be at least 18 years old.

According to the National Electoral Commission (CNE), there are 14.3 million registered voters for this year's general election, which will also include the participation of overseas voters, with 22,560 citizens expected to vote from abroad. The expansion of voting rights to the diaspora, who are voting for the first time, also feeds into expectations of greater competitiveness.

Of the country's 18 provinces, Luanda, Huila, Benguela and Huambo remain the four largest strongholds. The four provinces have a total of 8.2 million registered voters, representing 57.2 percent of the total registered voters in the country. Luanda province alone has 4.6 million voters.

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The parties contesting the election

The president is not directly elected in Angola. In accordance with the Angolan constitution, the top candidate of a political formation that wins the most votes is elected as president.

This year, seven political parties and a coalition are contesting the elections as they vie for 220 seats in the National Assembly. Out of the 220 seats, 130 are elected from the national lists of the parties, and the remaining 90 parliamentarians are elected based on provincial lists, with each of the 18 provinces in the country electing five deputies.

The competing parties are namely the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), the National Patriotic Alliance (APN), the Social Renewal Party (PRS), the Humanist Party of Angola (PHA), the Nationalist Party for Justice in Angola (P-NJANGO), and the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola-Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE).

The Aug 24 general election will be the fifth of its kind since democratic elections were first introduced in 1992 in the southern African country. The ruling party, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA),  had won all the previous elections held in 1992, 2008, 2012 and 2017, respectively.

Joao Lourenco, Angola's President and presidential candidate of the the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Luanda on Aug 20, 2022, ahead of the Angola elections scheduled for Aug 24, 2022. (JULIO PACHECO NTELA / AFP
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This year, seven political parties and a coalition are contesting the elections as they vie for 220 seats in the National Assembly. Out of the 220 seats, 130 are elected from the national lists of the parties, and the remaining 90 parliamentarians are elected based on provincial lists, with each of the 18 provinces in the country electing five deputies

2022 general election frontrunners

Incumbent President Joao Lourenco is running on a ticket of the ruling party MPLA, in hopes of seeking a second term in office. He will face the challenge from his major rival Adalberto Costa Junior, leader of the country's largest opposition UNITA.

The MPLA has chosen Esperanca Maria Eduardo Francisco da Costa as the candidate for the vice-presidency, while UNITA has picked Abel Chivukuvuku as the vice-president candidate.

In the 2017 elections, the ruling MPLA won with an absolute majority of 61 percent of the votes, followed by UNITA with about 27 percent.

President Joao Lourenco, 68, highlighted his resolve to fight corruption in an election rally held last week in Benguela province, his birthplace.

Meanwhile, UNITA as the main Angolan opposition party intends to implement an inclusive and participative government to promote the country's socioeconomic growth and the well-being of all Angolans.

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Sixty-year-old Adalberto Costa Junior is the current president of UNITA and a member of the National Assembly. He has also campaigned against public corruption. He was trained in electrotechnical engineering at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto and in public ethics at the Gregorian University in Rome.

UNITA last week appealed for the responsible and positive behavior of supporters to enable the Aug. 24 elections to run in a peaceful and calm environment.