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Angola's Ruling Party Poised To Win National Elections

Angola's ruling MPLA party headed by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appears to have successfully retained its hold on power in the south-western African nation by securing an unbeatable lead in last week's national elections, according to partial results declared on Sunday.

The provisional results announced after the counting of about 90 percent of the ballots indicated that the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has won 73 percent of the vote. While the main Opposition Unita Party (Union for the Total Independence of Angola) secured 18 percent, the newly formed Casa Party won six percent.

Although several political parties had fielded their candidates in the August 31 elections, the main contest was between the ruling MPLA and the Unita Party, the two rival factions that fought the 27-year civil war.

Incomplete results indicate that President Santos has effectively secured another term in office. Santos, who heads the MPLA, has been Angola's President since 1979 and the MPLA has been in power ever since the country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

Notably, last week's elections were Angola's second after the civil war ended a decade ago. Final results of the polls are expected to be announced later on Monday.

Besides, the August 31 elections were the first under a new Constitution, under which the leader of the party with the most number of seats in the country's 220-member Parliament automatically becomes President.

The Unita Party had earlier expressed concerns about transparency and credibility of the elections, pointing out that authorities had failed to publish a full electoral roll ahead of the polls. The Opposition party also called for delaying the polls.

Nevertheless, African Union observers who monitored the polls dismissed the Opposition claims, stressing that the polls were "free, fair, transparent and credible."

Angola, one of the largest producers of oil and diamonds in Africa, is still in the process of recovering from a long brutal civil war which ended in 2002. Massive returns from its gold and oil resources have not trickled down to a majority of its people, who remain poor despite the double-digit growth posted by the country since the late 1990s.

by RTT Staff Writer

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