Angola prepares for general elections on 24 August

SANF 22 no 19 – by Clarkson Mambo

Angola will hold its general elections in late August to choose the President and National Assembly in historic polls where Angolans living in the diaspora will vote for the first time.

This follows an amendment to the Constitution in 2010 that allows Angolans in the diaspora to cast their vote. Of the 14.3 million registered voters, at least 22,560 are Angolans residing abroad, according to the National Electoral Commission (CNE).

The incumbent President João Lourenço will represent the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party in the 24 August election. The MPLA has won all elections since the country gained independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975.

President Lourenço was first elected in August 2017 and will contest a second term in office against Adalberto Júnior, the leader of the main opposition, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

UNITA has entered into a pact with other opposition parties such as the Democratic Bloc (BD) and the PRA-JA Servir Angola to form a coalition under the banner of the United Patriotic Front (FPU).

Angola uses a single constituency electoral system of first-past-the-post for the election of Members of Parliament. The candidate of the party winning the most votes in the parliamentary election becomes the President.

Before the Constitution was changed in 2010, the President was directly elected.

Speaking at his party’s election launch, President Lourenço said the MPLA party is poised to win the forthcoming elections as the party is celebrated for nurturing the success of Angola since independence.

President Lourenço said it is imperative that all stakeholders jealously safeguard the national peace the country has enjoyed in the past two decades so that it continues on its reconstruction path.

He urged all Angolans to “honour the memory” of the late President José Eduardo dos Santos by voting for the MPLA party.

The late President José dos Santos died on 8 July after an illness and had served the country as its second President since 1979 following the death of the founding President, Dr Agostinho Neto, until August 2017 when he made way for the incumbent President Lourenço.

“The election comes at a time in which Angolans still feel the pain of the physical disappearance of comrade President José Eduardo dos Santos,” President Lourenço said.

He promised to continue with the diversification of the economy to reduce its reliance on oil, intensify the fight against corruption, strengthen democratic institutions and improve the provision of public services in areas including health.

The leader of the UNITA opposition party, Adalberto Júnior, said his party is ready to rule and build “a new and better Angola.” He said the time has come for democratic change, and he promised to end corruption.”

Both the MLPA and UNITA are targeting the youth who make up the majority of voters, and have pledged to promote employment among the youth, as well as foster public and private investments.

At least eight parties including the Humanist Party of Angola (PHA), Casa-CE, and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) will contest seats in the National Assembly.

The Assembly has 220 seats, plus two additional seats for the President and Vice President.

In the last election held in 2017, the MPLA won 150 seats in Parliament, while UNITA got 51, and the CASA- CE coalition secured the remaining 16 seats.

The 24 August general elections will be the fifth multi-party polls following those held in 1992, 2008, 2012 and 2017, and will mark 20 years since the end of the civil war in 2002.

As a Member State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the SADC Election Observation Mission (SEOM) is expected to observe the 24 August elections in Angola.

The SEOM, which will be guided by the provisions and requirements of the Angolan Constitution will observe the elections in three phases: the pre-election period, election-day and post-election.

After the elections, the SEOM is expected to issue a comprehensive report on the conduct of the polls in accordance with the provisions of the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

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