Angolan voters are heading to polls to elect a new parliament and president in the third national elections held in the African country since independence in 1975. Voters headed to more than 10,000 polling stations across the country from 7:00 am (0600 GMT) to cast ballots for parliamentarians, with the leader of the winning party set to become president. The ruling MPLA party, which easily defeated opponents in the last elections four years ago, is widely expected to win Friday's vote and to return long-ruling President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to power, who has ruled the southern African country for nearly 33 years.
During his rule, Dos Santos has exerted a strong role in business in Africa's second-largest oil producer.Meanwhile, the opposition has raised fears that the vote will not be free and fair. Voting will close 11 hours later, with results expected to start coming in over the weekend. A final result could take around five days. On the eve of the national elections, Angolan police arrested several members of an opposition party on Thursday after they tried to enter the electoral commission building to demand credentials to observe the vote at polling stations, a party official and police said. According to William Tonet, a candidate for the opposition CASA-CE party, police fired shots to keep back dozens who were approaching the national electoral commission (CNE) in Luanda. Tonet said no one was hurt in the incident. MSH/JR