MPLA dominates new Angola parliament following landslide victory

by Richard Nyamanhindi – SANF 08 No 64
Angola’s ruling party secured a landslide parliamentary election victory in the September poll with a clear majority that extended their political dominance in Africa’s leading oil-producing country.

According to the final results announced by the National Electoral Commission (CNE), the ruling party, the Popular Movement for Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won 191 seats in the 220-member parliament.

The MPLA won 81.64 percent of the 5,266,216 million votes, while the main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), garnered 10.39 percent of the votes, winning 16 seats in the national assembly.

The rest of the seats went to the Social Renovation Party (PRS) with eight, the Angola National Freedom Front (FNLA) with three, and the New Democratic Coalition (NDC) with two representatives.

The outcome, accepted by the main opposition, is widely expected to ensure that Angola emerges from the first national election without the problems that dogged the country in the last election held in 1992.

Unita conceded defeat, dropping a bid to contest what it had described as a flawed poll. Delays in opening polling stations and missing voters’ roll led to the voting process spilling into a second day in Luanda.

In the previous legislature, the ruling party held 129 seats against 70 of Unita and six of PRS.

The September results show that the MPLA is gaining the support of the majority on the backdrop of a growing economy and continued political stability.

Angola’s economy grew by a staggering 24 percent last year amid high international oil prices.

The current parliament will have a four-year lifespan, while next year Angolans will vote for their president.

Regional election observers have praised the conduct of the September elections describing them as “credible, peaceful and transparent”.

The SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM), headed by John Kunene of Swaziland, said the elections were conducted in “an open, transparent and professional manner.”

“SADC would like to congratulate the people of the Republic of Angola for holding a credible, peaceful, free, well managed and transparent election.

“The people of the Republic of Angola have expressed their will in an impressively instructive manner that will go a long way in contributing to the consolidation of democracy and political stability not only in Angola but also in the region as a whole,” said a preliminary statement from the SEOM.

The SEOM hailed the “high levels of political accommodation, political tolerance and maturity displayed”.

The observer team also praised the professionalism, resilience and perseverance to succeed, which was demonstrated by NEC during the election.

Kunene said the pre-election phase was characterised by peace, political tolerance and campaign vigour of the party leaders and candidates.

“No violence or acts of intimidation were observed nor reported countrywide,” said Kunene.

The SEOM said the counting process was “meticulous and lawful”.

The SEOM, however, noted a few areas where stakeholders expressed concerns. These included the delays in publishing the voters’ roll for inspection, equal access to the public media and a change in the “party funding processes”, which saw delays in releasing the funds to the political parties.

Benjamin Bounkoulou, head of the African Union (AU) observer mission, declared Angola’s electoral process as “transparent, free and went in line with the African Union standards.”

He congratulated the Angolan people on the maturity showed during the elections, highlighting the active participation of youths and women in the voting process.

Angola last went to the polls in 1992. The elections were, aborted after the first round of voting when Jonas Savimbi, the late leader of Unita, alleged that there had been widespread vote rigging.

This led to the resumption of what was already a protracted civil war, which ended in 2002 following the death of Savimbi.

Angola became Africa’s leading oil producer in March this year overtaking Nigeria and is a leading diamond producer on the continent. Foreign firms have invested billions of dollars in Angola’s oil sector resulting in rapid growth.