An Angolan woman walks in Kuito, Bie province, central Angola, on Monday.
Officials blamed technical problems as hundreds of people waiting for hours for stations to open.
Luisa Morgantini, chief of the EU observer mission, said problems included lack of ballots and of the ink used to mark voters' fingers and prevent multiple voting. In some cases, she said, polling officials failed to show up.
"Voting was a disaster in Luanda following woeful organization," she said. She said the situation was better outside the capital, though there also were problems there.
Angola is rich in diamonds and oil, but little of that money has trickled down to repair dilapidated roads or antiquated power stations, and most people still live in poverty.
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 to accommodate all those in line.
More than 8 million people in this southern African nation of over 16 million were registered to vote. Differences over the results of the last national vote in 1992 led to a resurgence of the civil war.
This time, the campaign had been relatively peaceful, stoking hope that Angola may finally be on the way to peace and prosperity. Members of the 220-seat parliament were being chosen Friday. Angola's presidential elections are expected next year.
Results of this election were expected next week.
"We have now started a new political era, a new way of using politics to obtain our goals," President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had repeatedly put off the vote citing logistical difficulties, said as he voted inLuanda. He said the new era would be built on "respect for freedom and the rights of everyone to express their point of view."
Dos Santos' Popular Liberation Movement of Angola is accused by international human rights groups of corruption and mismanagement, but it campaigned on promises to keep transforming a nation destroyed by civil war, and was expected to retain control of parliament.
Angola's 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 allowing for a price drop. Chevron produces just over 500,000 barrels a day and plans to double production in the next five years.
This year, Angola, the newest member of OPEC, overtook Saudi Arabia as the leading source of crude oil for China.
The opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola -- or UNITA -- has urged impoverished Angolans to vote for change. But UNITA is linked in the minds of many Angolans to the horrors of war that left an estimated 1 million dead and hundreds of thousands orphaned or maimed.
One war legacy is the 8 million or so land mines still buried here, which kill or injure at least 300 people a year, according to the United Nations.
Fighting broke out at independence from Portugal in 1975 and ended in 2002 when the army killed UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.
Dos Santos beat Savimbi in the first round of the 1992 presidential election, but Savimbi refused to accept defeat and returned to war before the second round could be held.
- STORY HIGHLIGHTS
- Technical problems at polling stations in Angola's capital delay start of voting
- Some stations in Luanda were not open hours after voting was due to begin
- European Union observer blames poor planning and insufficient infrastructure
- Differences over results of last national vote in 1992 threw Angola into civil war