Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 20:08 UK

Angola election chief denies bias

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos campaigning in Luanda, 3 September 2008
Jose Eduardo dos Santos has been in power since 1979

The head of Angola's electoral commission has denied accusations of unfair campaigning on the eve of the country's first elections in 16 years.

Caetano de Sousa also urged parties to maintain the peace and accept the outcome of the vote.

Angola's ruling MPLA party is expected to win the poll and extend its long rule over the oil-rich country.

The opposition Unita party has accused the MPLA of intimidating its supporters and dominating state media.

Thursday was a day of reflection during which campaigning was formally suspended.

The state newspaper Jornal de Angola carried no front page picture of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for the first time in a week.

"The electoral campaign was carried out throughout the country under equal circumstances for all candidates," said Mr de Sousa.

"The political parties have the moral, social and political duty to safeguard the peace and stability and accept the outcome of the vote."

Mr de Souso said voters should be "peaceful, serious and accept the different choices as we have already seen throughout this process".

Angola's last election in 1992 sparked the second phase of the country's 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002.

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