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Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 10:56 UK

Angolan voters' views

Angolan men sitting on steps

Angolans are going to the polls to elect parliamentary representatives. It is the first elections in 16 years and the first held during peacetime.

Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975 but was then thrown into civil war which ravaged for 27 years.

Click on the links below to read some views from voters:

Carla Luis, 38, co-ordinator, Luanda


Filomena Coelho, 48, manager, Soyo


Mario Zacarias, 35, consultant, Luanda/Moxico

CARLA LUIS, 38, PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR, LUANDA
I will vote but I don't want to reveal my choice.

Here in Angola we really need people to think differently - we need leaders who are worried about the plight of people.

Yes it's good to build new roads, hospitals and schools but we also need to look after the people's livelihoods.

We need policies that will empower the people, not just the infrastructure. In the rural areas there is great poverty.

On top of the poverty, about one-in-10 Angolans are disabled because of the war. But really there is no way to know for sure. It could be much more.

I lost my legs.

Disabled man on crutches in Luanda
About 10% of Angolans are disabled because of the war

We were running away from bombs in our neighbourhood when it happened. My mother was disabled then too.

But still, despite everything, she worked as a seamstress to feed us and to send us to school, when it was open.

It was very, very difficult.

Often I went to the government to ask for help but they always turned me away. They only help ex-military people - not normal citizens.

It was the Catholic Church who took me to Algeria to have my prosthetic legs fitted.

I work for a disability project concerned with women, youth and children and with my work I travel all over the country.

We help disabled people with information and education. We show them how to fight for their rights.

I wish for a government that would take these issues seriously.

Because currently we have people in government who know nothing and do not serve us citizens and our needs.

I hope really that this election will bring change but we cannot be sure about that.

If MPLA stay, things will not change - they will keep driving their big cars, sending their children overseas for their education and eating fine food.

The difference is so enormous.

They just want to remain in power forever.

If you have money, you have power.

And if you have power, you have money.

FILOMENA COELHO, 48, MANAGER, SOYO

When I vote on Friday it will be my first time ever. All this time, I have never had a chance to vote, because of the war.

Angolan voters give their views on the landmark elections

But it is coming now and I am happy -although also quite anxious too.

The biggest issue for me is the peace we now have.

And second to that is the management of power.

Now we need someone to manage it.

I see a good future for my country.

Angola is wealthy and Angolans are good people.

Nothing will really change after the election, or for the next four years but at least people are gaining an attitude for democracy.

And honestly, you know, we don't have a opposition at all.

What we will have though, in fact, is a situation where the ruling MPLA party will not have such a large majority in parliament.

And because of this, the other parties will grow. This is what I really want for my country because at this stage the opposition parties don't have the necessary skills because they've never been given a chance to rule - they have not been allowed to develop politically.

I work for an oil company in the remote north of my country. For this, I earn a good living and do alright.

But for the people who don't work for the oil companies, I feel very disappointed to see how they live - there is nothing for the local people here, hardly any schools or hospitals.

The province is very poor because the government has done nothing to develop the area.

No investment - nothing.

There's no hope.

People beg for bread. For young people who have aspirations it is sad. They don't have anything - and so they accept anything you offer to them be it food or clothes.

They just sit around - some may say they are lazy but the truth is, there is nothing to motivate them.

They deserve better conditions. Our country should not be like this when we have so much wealth.

I am counting down to Friday.

It is very exciting.

There will be two polling stations in the bay where I work and there'll even be polling stations on the twelve oil rigs offshore.

Helicopters will take the officials and their equipment to the rigs and then bring them back with the marked ballots.

MARIO ZACARIAS, 35, CONSULTANT, LUANDA/MOXICO
I'll be voting on Friday but I don't even know yet who I am supposed to vote for.

It's quite sad but I haven't heard any of the parliamentary candidates talking about their policies. No-one has really outlined their intentions.

AFRICA HAVE YOUR SAY
I'm delighted for the changes that are occurring in Angola because when I was in primary school I witnessed how Angolans fled the war to seek sanctuary in Zaire [DR Congo]
Simon Iswa, London

Voting this coming Friday is historic but there are a lot of fundamental issues which make me question the legitimacy of the whole process.

Are elections meant to make Angola democratic?

Or is it merely window-dressing for the international community, which would legitimise our generals to continue to hold onto power?

Angola has had the same generation of leaders since independence in 1975 and this election will simply cement this situation.

In Africa today, the most important aspect is how you can satisfy the Britons and Americans... how you play the game.

If they say our polls on Friday are not fair then we stand to lose out on investment opportunities.

I have lived and worked in a lot of African countries - Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe - but Angola is completely different.

We came from a Portuguese system, communism and socialism.

The generals have been in charge for too long and they have let down our generation.

It is very sad.

Luanda is full of slums - there's no water, no electricity. The oil money doesn't trickle down.

To buy a small flat where I am standing now in the city would cost $2m... that's why slums expand every day.

And in the provinces, like Moxico where I am from, there's nothing because that's where the battlegrounds were.

There are a lot of untold stories about our war. I know mothers who killed their own daughters to save their lives.

That war is why our country is the way it is.

People don't understand what politics is all about.

The education system is a shambles. It always has been.

Most of our people have never had an opportunity to study, to empower themselves, to understand the basics of life and what government responsibilities and duties are.

The problems are partly historical but worsened by the current political establishment.

Next year I'm going back home to live in the village. I have some land and I will be self-sufficient.

I'm tired of living in Luanda - life is too expensive as it is and if the MPLA returns to power then they will push whatever policies they want to pursue and then life will become even more expensive.

I don't expect Friday's election to add up to anything. But after these ones, the next ones will be a bit better.

Our people have to change first.

They are looking at the man with the biggest pocket instead of thinking what that man should do for them.




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