Monday 20 November 2017

Angola's opposition parties vow to contest ruling party's win

Angola's opposition parties vow to contest ruling party's win
(AFP 09/07/17)

Angola's Electoral Commission declared Wednesday that the ruling MPLA party had won last month's election, in a victory that allows outgoing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to install a party loyalist in his place after 38 years in power.

The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) garnered 61.7 percent of the vote, and 150 of the 220 seats in parliament, the head of the CNE electoral commission, Andre da Silva Neto, said in announcing the final results.

Dos Santos, 75, who has ruled since 1979 and is reportedly in poor health, will hand over to former defence minister Joao Lourenco at the presidential inauguration on September 25.

The opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) won 26.6 percent of the vote and 51 parliamentary seats, while Casa-CE managed 9.5 percent with 16 seats.

Along with two smaller groups, the opposition parties said they would challenge the results of what they have called an "unconstitutional and illegal" vote in court.

On Sunday, the four defeated opposition parties had called for a recount of the August 23 vote, alleging that ballot boxes and voter forms had disappeared.

The electoral commission rejected the demand.

"The country is at a crossroads because the conduct, transparency and validity of the electoral process is being called into question," said Claudio Silva, a spokesman for the opposition.

"We consider that the practices of the CNE are a violation of democracy and the rule of law," he added.

A Unita delegate to the CNE confirmed it would file a challenge with Angola's constitutional court.

If the electoral commission upholds the results, "we will turn to other measures prescribed by the constitution," said Estevao Tachiungo, indicating that protests could be held.

- 'Spoiling the party' -

But the claims of violations were dismissed by Lourenco late Wednesday, who accused the opposition of "spoiling the people's party".

"These political groups, by protesting in their sole interests against these so-called procedural irregularities, have violated electoral laws," he said.

"Their attempts at inciting civil disobedience show that they do no respect the popular will as expressed at the ballot boxes."

Human Rights Watch Southern Africa has urged the incoming president to "urgently implement much-needed human rights reforms" in the oil-producing country, which suffered years of civil war that ended in 2002.

"He should support free press and association, and ensure that all Angolans are able to express their political views without fear of reprisal or intimidation," said regional director Dewa Mavhinga.

"Opposition parties' claims that elections were marred by irregularities, such as the disappearance of ballot boxes, should be promptly investigated by a competent and impartial body," he added.

The MPLA had predicted it would win easily, but the result showed a decline in support from the 2012 election.

The country of 28.8 million population is battling high poverty levels and has suffered from a slump in crude prices in recent years.

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