It is less than a month for Angola to experience one of the most anticipated episodes in its history. Sixteen years since the last elections, Angolans will once again have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming legislative elections, taking place from 5 through 6 September.
The atmosphere is quiet, although there are different feelings among the population. The more affluent people say they are going abroad; some smile and guarantee that nothing will happen because Angolans don't want war and suffering anymore; while others rush to stores to buy staple goods, just in case the devil pays and things go wrong, as happened in 1992. As a reminder, at that time the largest opposition party, UNITA, contested the polls and fighting broke out, leading to a resumption of the civil war that ended ten years later, with the death of the charismatic leader of that party, Jonas Savimbi.
When it comes to foreign businessmen based in Angola, they have no intention of returning to their home countries. The business community is confident that everything will remain the same after the elections and that it is not necessary to change professional commitments. Jotacê Carranca [pt] makes the following reflection on the local atmosphere:
Depois do primeiro processo eleitoral que foi completamente frustrante e traumatizante, aproxima-se a passos largos as segundas eleições legislativas em Angola. Se para muitos este processo é o renovar de esperanças e sinónimo da consolidação da democracia em todo o país, para outros, nas zonas rurais e naquelas províncias que sofreram de forma violenta, directa e dramática as consequências da guerra pós-eleitoral de 1992, penso que prevalece um sentimento de medo, insegurança, pessimismo e incredibilidade em relação aos benefícios que este processo pode trazer para a vida de todos os cidadãos. Nestas zonas há a necessidade de se fazer um valoroso trabalho de descomplexar, um processo que tem influência para além da política, estética, cultura, religiosa e filosófica. Há que transmitir a consciência social e individual.
After the first electoral process, which was completely frustrating and traumatic, the second parliamentary elections in Angola are coming up very fast. If this process is, for many, synonymous with renewed hopes and consolidation of democracy throughout the country, for others, in the rural areas and for those in the provinces who suffered such violent, direct and dramatic consequences of the post-election war in 1992, I think there is a prevailing sense of fear, uncertainty, pessimism and a lack of credibility about the benefits this process can bring to all citizens’ lives. In these areas, there is a need to make a valiant job of simplifying a process that goes beyond the political, aesthetic, cultural, religious and philosophical influences. We must promote social and individual conscience.
Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has already issued a public appeal for calm and organization on voting days, saying that “it is essential that the safety of citizens and protection of their property is fully guaranteed, because public order is a prerequisite” . The leader added that it is necessary to have “respect for the views and ideas of others” without the use of “verbal or physical violence.”
We hope that the 8.3 million voters will have a peaceful environment to vote in and will do so in a perfectly clear, lucid way. There are more than 12 thousand voting centres throughout the national territory. Meanwhile, Angola is already lively with the election campaign carried out by the nine political parties. For more information about the political line of each one of these political parties please visit Eugénio Costa Almeida‘s blog [pt].
Written originally in Portuguese, translation into English by Paula Góes