LUANDA, Angola (AP) — Angolans are voting in an election in which President Joao Lourenco is seeking a second term and longtime opposition party UNITA is trying to unseat the ruling MPLA party which has held power for 47 years.
Some voters lined up at dawn Wednesday, two hours before polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time.
Lourenco and opposition candidate Adalberto Costa Junior of the Union for the Total Independence of Angola, UNITA, cast their ballots in Luanda, the capital city on the Atlantic Ocean.
About 14 million of the country’s more than 33 million people have registered to vote. In the previous election in 2017, the turnout was 57% of those who registered.
Ordinarily busy marketplaces and street stalls have been closed to encourage people to go to the polls and the government has urged all employers to allow workers to have time to vote.
At the more than 26,400 polling stations across the country and abroad, the country’s ruling party, the Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola, has 53,000 representatives to monitor the voting and counting. UNITA has not announced how it will monitor results but it has called on its supporters to sit at polling stations after voting to observe the counting and posting of the tallies.
Official results are not expected for several days, as recent elections have seen delays in announcements by the National Electoral Commission, whose director is seen as partisan to the ruling party.
The election is being watched by about 2,000 international observers including from the European Union, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
As the threat of COVID-19 has reduced, people are permitted to vote without face masks.