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Thousands in Angola’s capital protest alleged electoral fraud

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LUANDA — Thousands of Angolans protested on Saturday against what they said was a flawed election last month that returned the ruling MPLA to power after nearly five decades of uninterrupted rule

Angola’s Constitutional Court threw out a complaint filed by the runner-up, opposition party UNITA, in the Aug. 24 election.

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UNITA, a former rebel group who fought the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) for nearly three decades, received many of its votes from youths who feel left out of the country’s oil riches.

“The citizens are not with the MPLA. We want them out!,” demonstrators chanted in unison.

Many of them were among the young and unemployed who feel failed by the MPLA, some of whose members became billionaires from Angola’s oil wealth while most live in poverty.

The demonstrators took over Independence Square, traditionally where the MPLA holds rallies and victory parties. The were peaceful, although analysts fear there is enough anger and youth frustration for any protests to quickly turn violent.

UNITA’s leader Adalberto Costa Junior had called for the protests after losing to incumbent President Joao Lourenco in the August 24th elections.

UNITA officials have not published any evidence of their claims of electoral fraud.

A little more than 51% of the electorate voted for the former Marxist MPLA, in a result contested by the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which got about 44%, its best result yet. (Reporting by Leandro Lima, Writing by Tim Cocks and Angus MacSwan)