For the first time in 16 years, Angolans vote today in an election widely expected to extend the ruling party’s three decade grip on power.
The governing MPLA party, headed by Jose Eduaro dos Santos, is brimming with confidence against a fragmented and under-funded opposition.
The parliamentary poll follows a month-long campaign that has been free of violence but marked by allegations of voter intimidation.
The largest opposition bloc is UNITA, the former rebel group which is pinning its hopes on discontent over the government’s failure to alleviate the country’s deep poverty and high jobless rate.
Two-thirds of Angolans live on just over a euro a day and at least 40 percent of the workforce is unemployed.
The former Portuguese colony’s last election ended in disaster, sparking a civil war.
International election monitors say such a result is highely unlikely this time but they will be on their watch to ensure there is little or no vote-rigging taking place.
The government has denied the opposition allegations and says it is doing all it can to rebuild the nation.
It has declared today a national holiday to enable voters to get to the polls.