Authorities in Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, began counting ballots in one of the country’s closest elections since the end of a civil war two decades ago.
The fifth election since independence from Portugal in 1975 is essentially a two-horse race between incumbent Joao Lourenco, who heads the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, and Adalberto Costa Junior, the charismatic leader of the main opposition National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola, or Unita.
“Voting has ended,” Lucas Quilundo, a spokesman for the national electoral commission, said Wednesday. “We’re currently in the process of counting the votes.”
The electoral agency is currently unable provide details about voter turnout, said Quilundo. He declined to provide a date for the announcement of the final results. Most polling stations closed at about 4 p.m. local time, according to the electoral commission.
A poll broadcast by Angolan state-owned TPA television station late on Wednesday showed the MPLA winning the election with 53.6% of the vote and securing a second term for Lourenco. Unita garnered 42.4% of the vote, according to the survey, conducted by Sigma Dos.
Unita leader Costa Junior said in a statement on his official Facebook page that his party was leading the vote count with a wide margin. He urged Angolans not to get “distracted” by polls from the TPA television station.
The MPLA, in power for almost half a century, won 61% in the last national election in 2017, and Unita just 27%. An opinion poll published in May by research company Afrobarometer showed the MPLA leading Unita by just seven percentage points.
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