Angola to elect new president as dos Santos retires

Angola to elect new president as dos Santos retires”

Angolans are preparing to go to the polls on Wednesday to choose a new president as the country's long-serving ruler Jose Eduardo dos Santos is stepping down after thirty eight years in power.

Dos Santos' retirement - reportedly prompted by ill health - has triggered the biggest political transition in decades for Angola, a leading oil exporter in Africa. If elected, he will face the challenge of reversing the worst downturn since the country emerged from civil war in 2002, according to Manuel Alves da Rocha, chief economist at the Catholic University of Angola in Luanda.

"I have no doubt the MPLA will win this election", Dos Santos said in a short address. "He is respected by the military and has not lived a flamboyant lifestyle of many others".

Jose Eduardo dos Santos during a campaign rally in Luanda, on August 19. His eldest daughter, Isabel, is Africa's richest woman, with an estimated wealth of $2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"Not here. We've seen what war is".

With Angola in the midst of an economic crisis caused by a fall in oil prices, opposition parties sense a political opportunity, Reuters reports.

Opposition parties, who have a low profile due to restrictions on their activities and lack of finance, have sought to tap into public anger at the government.

Lourenco made the fight against corruption and poverty the centerpiece of his campaign.

"People are being told that if they vote for Unita there will be war", the leader of the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola, Isaias Samakuva, said at his party's last campaign gathering in the capital, Luanda, before Wednesday's vote.

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