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Angolas first vote since 1992 plagued by problems
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    LUANDA, Angola — Angola stumbled on the road to democracy Friday, voters waiting for hours to take part in the first election in 16 years as ballot shortages and a lack of voting officials played havoc at the polls.
    The voting follows one of Africa’s longest civil wars, including a resurgence of fighting set off by the last balloting in 1992. But the run-up to the election was relatively peaceful, and voters remained calm Friday despite disorganization and delays.
    ‘‘Voting was a disaster in Luanda following woeful organization,’’ said Luisa Morgantini, chief of the EU observer mission monitoring the election. She added that the situation was better, though not problem-free, outside the capital.
    Morgantini said beyond lack of ballots there was a shortage of ink used to mark voters’ fingers to prevent multiple voting and that some polling officials failed to show up.
    Caetano de Souza, president of the National Election Commission, acknowledged ‘‘logistical deficiencies’’ and asked voters to be patient. He said voting stations would stay open past the planned 6 p.m. closing time to accommodate all those in line.
    More than 8 million people in this southern African nation of more than 16 million were registered to vote for members of the 220-seat parliament.
    The election result is expected next week, and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is expected to retain control of parliament.
    Most of the country’s power currently rests with dos Santos, so next year’s presidential election could be even more important.
    ‘‘We have now started a new political era, a new way of using politics to obtain our goals,’’ said dos Santos, who had repeatedly put off the vote by citing logistical difficulties. As he cast his ballot in Luanda, he said a new era would be built on ‘‘respect for freedom and the rights of everyone to express their point of view.’’
    International human rights groups accuse Dos Santos’ once-Marxist Popular Liberation Movement of Angola party of corruption and mismanagement. The party campaigned on promises to keep transforming a nation destroyed by civil war.
    The opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola party— or UNITA — had urged impoverished Angolans to vote for change. But UNITA is linked in the minds of many Angolans to the horrors of war.
    People in this country, which is twice the size of Texas, focus on survival — including avoiding stepping on any of the 8 million land mines left over from the war. The mines still kill or wound 300 people a year.
    In Angola, fighting broke out at the nation’s independence from Portugal in 1975 and ended in 2002, when the army killed UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.
    In 1992, Dos Santos beat Savimbi in the first round of the presidential election, but Savimbi refused to accept defeat and returned to war before the second round of voting could be held.
    Angola is rich in diamonds and oil, but little of that wealth has trickled down to its many poor people and the country’s infrastructure remains in disrepair.
    This year, Angola, the newest member of OPEC, overtook Saudi Arabia as the leading source of crude oil for China.
    Oil output is projected to surpass 2 million barrels a day next year and increase by 90 percent from 2005 levels by 2010, according to conservative estimates of the International Monetary Fund. It says that would double Angolan government revenues, even if oil prices fall. Chevron produces just over 500,000 barrels a day in Angola and plans to double production in the next five years.

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