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Angola President Lourenço Set for Another Term Amid Allegations of Unfair Vote

LUANDA, Angola—Angola’s ruling party, already in power for nearly five decades, was set to narrowly win this week’s general election, the country’s electoral commission said Thursday, handing President João Lourenço another five-year term.

With 97% of ballots counted, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, has won 51% of the vote in Wednesday’s elections, the commission said, the party’s slimmest margin since Angola held its first national elections in 1992. The opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or Unita, won 44%, the commission said, with the remainder of the votes going to smaller parties.

The near-final results would leave the MPLA with 124 out of the 220 seats in Angola’s parliament, enough to elect Mr. Lourenco for a second term, while Unita would have 90 seats.


A billboard with a portrait of João Lourenço in Angola’s capital, Luanda, this week.


As early results were released throughout the day Thursday, Unita officials contested the electoral commission’s numbers and said its parallel count pointed to an opposition victory. “Don’t let them steal our hope,” the party’s leader, Adalberto Costa Júnior, who had joined forces with two other popular opposition groups for the election, posted on Facebook.

In the run-up to the vote, civil-society groups had questioned the impartiality of the electoral commission, saying it was too close to the MPLA, and raised concerns over the limited airtime given to opposition parties on state media. Billboards emblazoned with Mr. Lourenço’s portrait and the MPLA’s election promises dominated the streets of the capital, Luanda.

Neither the U.S. for the European Union sent full observation missions to make public assessments on the vote, and Washington-based pro-democracy group Freedom House, which assesses countries’ political rights and civil liberties, rates Angola as “not free.”

At stake is the future of sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria. Angola is home to one of the region’s most powerful militaries and an important mediator in an escalating conflict in eastern Congo. A disputed election could also complicate efforts in recent years by the U.S. and Europe to deepen economic ties with Angola. Since the end of its 27-year civil war, Angola has borrowed heavily from China to build roads, housing and other infrastructure.

Mr. Lourenço took over from José Eduardo dos Santos, who had been president for 38 years, after elections in 2017, when the MPLA won 61% of the vote. A Soviet-trained general and former defense minister, Mr. Lourenço steered Angola through a period of low oil prices and five consecutive years of recession, during which its dollar-denominated economic output crashed by 60% from their 2014 peak.

His government implemented painful overhauls tied to a $4.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, including the introduction of a value-added tax.

High oil prices in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have buoyed Angola’s economy and its currency, the kwanza, this year. But many of the country’s 33 million citizens have yet to feel the benefits of the renewed influx of petrodollars. In the coming years, the IMF expects 70% of government revenue to toward servicing Angola’s $73 billion debt.

Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at

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