Doubts Angola’s elections will be fair
LUANDA: Amid fears of electoral fraud by the opposition and a new era without one of Africa’s longest leaders beckoning, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) looks destined to prolong its more than four decades at the helm of the country.
The continent’s third-longest serving leader, Jose Eduardo dos Santos (aged 74), in power since 1979, is stepping down later next month. With MPLA a dominant force since an almost 15-year anti-colonial war, his anointed successor and defence minister, Joao Lourenco, 63, is projected to romp to victory at the elections set for August 23.
Six million Angolans are set to vote out of a population of 25 million. Close rival, Isaías Samakuva, 71, of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), poses the biggest challenge to Lourenco’s ascension.
History suggests Unita, which fought alongside the MPLA in the war for independence and then against the MPLA in the ensuing civil war, would continue playing second fiddle. Not to be outdone is Abel Chivukuvu, 59, of the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition (Casa-CE), which claims a huge support base in the country.
At the last poll held in 2012, the ruling party secured 71.85% of the vote while Unita managed 18.6%. Casa-CE secured 6%. Analysts projected Dos Santos’ party would again emerge victorious.
“Chances are very high Lourenco of MPLA will romp to victory considering the ruling party has been very much organised and formidable,” political commentator Gilberto Fernandes said.
Entrepreneur Paulo Marques said the fact MPLA was changing its leadership would be a huge morale boost. Lourenco said his administration would prioritise the fight against corruption stifling the rapidly growing economy of the mineral and oilrich nation. However, preparations for the polls have been marred by allegations of violence against the opposition and muzzling of press freedom.
Recently, Unita embarked on protest march in the capital demanding free and fair elections.
Samakuva said the party would only accept defeat if the polls were free and fair.
Rights groups said security forces frequently cracked down on pro-democracy and human rights activists, raising doubts about whether the elections will be free and fair .Lourenco has pledged the elections would be credible.
JOSE DOS SANTOS