Luanda- Registered voters in the oil-rich southern African nation of Angola cast their ballots on Wednesday, to elect a new president.
About 9.2 million Angolans have registered to vote in the presidential parliamentary elections to vote for the government that includes the president, deputy president and a 220-member Parliament.
It is the third elections to be held in the country since the end of civil war in 2002 that ended after the death of former rebel leader Jonas Savambi.
No matter how it pans out, a majority of the over 9.2 million people who registered to vote will rewrite a new chapter in the history of Angola, for electing a new leader in over three decades.
President Eduardo Dos Santos is retiring from public office after 38 years in power.
The voting started at 7am with President Dos Santos among the first to cast their votes.
He voted around 8.30am at the Sao Josè do Chuny in the Ingombota area of the capital Luanda.
Manuael Vicente, who has been the deputy-president of Angola since September 2012, also exercised democratic rights by casting his vote at a local school in Kinanga area.
All the main presidential contenders also voted at different polling stations in the capital.
The MPLA, in power since independence from Portugal in 1975, is up against five other political parties.
MPLA’s candidate Joao Lourenco, accompanied by the governor of Luanda Province, Higino Carneiro, cast his ballot at the Agostinho Neto University. A former military general and defence minister since April 2014, Lourenco is widely expected to win the presidential race, and cement his party’s stranglehold on Angolan politics. He is also the vice-president of the MPLA, having served as the party’s secretary-general from 1998 to 2003.
UNITA’s Isaias Samakuva , a former evangelical pastor-turned-politician voted at the Oscar Riba University in Talantona area.
Benedito Daniel of the PRS voted at a local school in the Grafanil area; Lucas Ngonda of FNLA at a polling station in Nov Vida area, while Quintino Moreira of the National Patriotic Alliance voted at Casa du Juventunde in the Viana area.
Abel Chivukuvuku, who represents the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola electoral alliance, voted at a school in his neighbourhood of Alvalade.
Until after mid-day in Luanda, the election was progressing well in a calm environment.
There is also a noticeable lack of excitement among the residents of the capital, with few people observed filtering into the polling stations across the city.
And several polling stations in some poor neighbourhoods of Luanda were completely empty, with only polling officials engrossed in conversations, or strolling around. Luanda has been allocated 1.616 polling stations and 6.568 polling desks, with a total of 2.8 million of the total registered voters.
The National Electoral Commission (CNE) of Angola is conducting the general elections under the watchful eyes of about 1, 440 observers, of which 1 200 were from international institutions including African Union, UN, SADC and others, including the former liberation movements in southern Africa.
Meanwhile, the electoral commission has urged people to leave the polling stations after voting and to wait for the results at home.
The CNE’s president André da Silva Neto said announcement of the results will start 24 hours after the polls close at 7pm.