Joao Lourenco tipped to replace long-time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Angolan election

Joao Lourenco tipped to replace long-time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Angolan election

Angolans go to the polls today, with the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) of outgoing President

Supporters listen as Joao Lourenco, presidential candidate for the ruling MPLA party, speaks at an election rally in Malanje, Angola

Photo: Reuters/Stephen Eisenhammer

Angolans go to the polls today, with the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) of outgoing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos expected to win.

As the largest party’s candidate becomes president, ex-Defence Minister Joao Lourenco will likely take the top job. Lourenco has pledged to tackle corruption—Angola ranks 164th of 176 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index—by enticing private investment and limiting public expenditure to infrastructure. But to make good on his promise, he will have to fight his own party; while Lourenco has a clean reputation, Mr dos Santos and his family have been key beneficiaries of the current system.

Beyond corruption, Mr Lourenco will inherit a full plate from dos Santos, who has held office since 1979. The unemployment rate stands around 20% and inequality is high—the poorest fifth of the population makes just 3% of all income.

The MPLA will probably hold on but decline from 2012’s 72% of the vote. The party is entrenched and benefits from limited dissent. But, if Lourenco fails to deliver on his anti-corruption promises its standing could fall further.

Delve deeper: Angola’s presidential transition: risks and opportunities