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Angola goes to the polls today to elect a new leader

In Angola today nine million people will go to the polls to elect a new government. This is just the fourth election in the country’s history and promises at least one significant change.

President José Eduardo dos Santos (74) will not seek re-election and the country will have a new leader for the first time since 1979. 

José Eduardo dos Santos ruled the country during most of its 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002.

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Children play in front of tin shacks, built from the remains of homes that have been bulldozed repeatedly by the government in Cambamba I, a neighbourhood in Luanda, Angola’s capital.

The election pitches the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), the coalition CASA-CE, and other smaller opposition parties. Official pre-election polls suggest that that MPLA has a two-thirds majority, while other pools indicate that the opposition holds the majority.

Concerns have been raised about the transparency of these elections. The installation of polling stations and processes for tallying votes has also been criticised, with one province reporting almost 4,000 ballots having disappeared.

Notably, the EU has declined to send a full team of observers after the government failed to agree to the proposed conditions, including access to all parts of the country during the poll.

In a new turning point, citizens have been filling the gap and insisting on transparency, increasingly acting as independent observers, for example, through new forms of social media.

Christian Aid partner, Omunga, has been monitoring the election processes, informing citizens of their rights and promoting dialogue and political tolerance. Many other local organisations and churches have also been active in defending tolerance and non-violence.

In a recent poll, 90% of respondents said the current leadership acts in its own interest and not in that of the state or Angolan people. With the country’s economic crisis, widening inequality and lack of basic services, citizens are actively demanding change and debates at all levels are louder and growing.

In Angola, Christian Aid works with local organisations on priorities such as gender equality and human rights. We support people to advocate for their rights and specifically support people who are at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods, to land grabs, demolitions or evictions. 


Update - 8 September 2017

On the evening of 6 September, official results from Angola’s election were announced, confirming João Lourenço as President and Bornito de Sousa as Vice President.

According to these figures, MPLA won 61.07% of the votes and UNITA 26.67%, as indicated by the provisional results.

The electoral commission (CNE) dismissed complaints lodged by opposition parties about illegal practices that marred the electoral process and tallying of the votes, allegedly nullifying the results. CNE asserts that these claims do not have any objective, legal founding. The constitutional court - with the exception of one brave female judge, who cited legal basis for the claims - voted in favour of the CNE’s position on this matter.

A demonstration has been scheduled today to dispute the results, but may well be heavily repressed.

UNITA and the other three major opposition parties will continue challenging the results in court, stressing that the elections were neither transparent, nor carried out in accordance with the law, and that the final results have not been signed by many of the election commissioners.

Opposition parties have already carried out an independent counting of votes, which points to different results.

Meanwhile, the police have been increasing their presence throughout the country and are threatening to clamp down on any social unrest as a result of the official announcement.

We continue to monitor the situation closely.


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Blog: Uncertainty and poverty as Angola enters an election year


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