Angola Parliamentary Elections: Off to a Good Start

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AFJN stands in solidarity with the people of Angola as they participate in the first parliamentary election in 16 years. The election is a huge stride toward sustainable peace, democracy, and development that Angolans desire.

After three years of preparation, almost no stone has been left unturned. Eight million people were registered with anti-fraud systems of cards with pictures, holograms and fingerprints, observers from regional and international groups were present, helicopters and boats were deployed to reach the unreachable, and information and advertisements urging people to vote have been well circulated. As in numerous African elections there were logistical shortcomings, but Angola’s was encouraging considering it is a nation recovering from conflict.

With about 80% of votes counted, results show that the ruling party, MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), is headed for landslide victories with 82% of votes in their favor as opposed to the 10.5% votes won by the main opposition party, Unita (Union for the Total Independence of Angola) , a former rebel group. The leader of Unita, Isaias Samakuva made an announcement late Monday evening congratulating the winning party, Unita supporters, and all Angolans for participating in the process. This announcement came after clamor from the Unita camp, accusing the government of using fraudulent and unfair means to secure what seems to be utter victory. Unita accused MPLA of intimidating supporters of opposition parties, recruiting non-Angolans to vote, curtailing funds to support the opposition, and allowing lopsided access to the media. However, media and election observers including those from regional group Southern African Development Community (SADC) dismissed most of Unita’s claims stating that votes had been “transparent and credible.” Unita’s initial expression of “massive discontent with the election results held the country in a “wait and see” period for about 48 hours because of fear of a repeat of the 1992 elections, in which discrepancies over voting results prompted a civil war. But fears were put to rest when Mr. Samakuva conceded and said he hoped that the MPLA government would govern in the interest of all Angolans.

The streets of Luanda are overcome with hope and excitement and expectancy of a democratic system, new to half of its electorate who were born after 1974 and have little memory of the 1992 election. Angolans say it is time they all had a part in the “national cake,” which in their case is more appropriately the national oil. Angola is now Africa’s leading oil exporter, taking the lead over Nigeria. With this new title, Angola is going to play an even more strategic role in the international community.

AFJN stands in solidarity and with best wishes to the Angolan people as they make strides to make their voice heard, hold their government accountable, and demand a better future for themselves and their posterity.

By Gbenimah Slopadoe

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