Angola's opposition office 'attacked' amid political tensions

 In this file photo taken on August 21, 2022 A man walks wearing a People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) t-shirt in Luanda. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Angola is Africa's second-largest crude producer, but the oil bonanza has been accompanied by corruption and nepotism. 

Angola's main opposition party said supporters of the ruling MPLA party attacked one of its offices on Friday, injuring ten people and torching numerous vehicles, as tensions in the country remained high after a disputed vote.

Police said they were called to the scene in the small town of Bocoio, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the coastal city of Benguela, after "acts of political intolerance" between activists from the two parties resulted in the vandalisation of UNITA's local headquarters.

"Police forces ... restored the order," authorities said in a statement, adding that several vehicles were set on fire and calling on all political factions to preserve the "peace hard-won by the Angolan people". 

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), has challenged the results of last week election, which saw the long-ruling MPLA win, though by a significantly reduced majority.

"Angolans, UNITA won the elections!" opposition leader Adalberto Costa Junior, 60, wrote on Twitter on Friday, saying the party had filed a legal challenge to void the vote.

"We will defend the sovereignty of the people and their vote," he wrote. 

Results declared on Monday placed the Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) as the winner with 51.17 percent of the vote, securing a second term for President Joao Lourenco, 68. 

UNITA -- a former rebel movement that fought a bitter 27-year civil war against the MPLA government that ended in 2002 -- made significant gains, earning 43.95 percent of the vote, up from 26.67 percent at the previous election in 2017.

Adriano Abel Sapinala, the head of UNITA in Benguela's province, said 10 party supporters were wounded as MPLA supporters "attacked" its offices in Bocoio. 

"They set on fire our cars, motorcycles, vandalised our headquarters," he told AFP by phone, calling for calm.

The MPLA has traditionally wielded control over the electoral process and opposition and civic groups have raised fears of vote-tampering and irregularities. 

The Mudei Movement, a civic group, said on Friday that its parallel count based on a sample of votes suggested the two parties were in tie with about 48 percent of preferences each.  

The MPLA has been the only party to govern the country since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. But the ruling party saw its poorest showing this year, down from its victory with 61 percent of the vote in 2017.

Angola is Africa's second-largest crude producer, but the oil bonanza has been accompanied by corruption and nepotism. 

The latest election has been overshadowed by a struggling economy, inflation and poverty.