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Angola: Before Polls, Serious Questions Arise

On the eve of Angola’s elections, the country’s largest opposition party UNITA, was loud and clear to the media, stating the electoral process was the worst ever. A newer opposition coalition, CASA-CE, was protesting the imprisonment of one of its youth leaders.

The main concern as of the end of Thursday was the lack of transparency around the electoral rolls, which had still not been published as mandated by law.

Electoral officials continue to maintain that everything is ready. The National Electoral Commission’s site was last updated on Wednesday, August 29. Its featured news item reads [pt]

CNE quer perfeição mas como qualquer humano ainda não conseguiu chegar ao grau máximo da sua satisfação

The Commission wants perfection but just like any human being has not yet reached the highest level of satisfaction
Opposition supporters demand a transparent election. Photo by Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) on Twitter

“Opposition supporters demand a transparent election”. Photo by Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) on Twitter (used with permission)

Meanwhile complaints flowed into the crowdsourcing site Eleições Angola (Angola Elections) [pt] via SMS and Facebook. Most are related to the electoral lists and polling station assignments.

Somos moradores do Camama ao lado do colégio Antonino e atualizamos os nossos registos para votar neste colégio. Mas até ao momento não se vê nada, nem assembleias, nem listas, nem polícia, absolutamente nada. Como faremos para votar amanhã? David Alberto, Camama

We are residents of Camana next to Antonino School and we updated our registration to vote at this school. But til now we have not seen anything there, no polling station, no lists, no police, absolutely nothing. How will we vote tomorrow? David Alberto, Camama

Barra do Dande, cerca de 1000 eleitores não encontram seus nomes nos cadernos eleitorais afixados na área. Sr. Cabolombo, Barra do Dande

Barra do Dande, almost 1000 voters cannot find their names on the electoral lists posted in the area. Sr. Cabolombo, Barra do Dande

Eu sou cidadão eleitor, mas a assembleia onde iria exercer o meu direito de voto não existe. Ajudem-me. Aníbal da Paixão, Luanda

I am a citizen voter, but the polling station where I was going to exercise my right to vote does not exist. Help. Aníbal da Paixão, Luanda

Vim ontem de Benguela, mas particularmente no município do Bocoio há uma tremenda recolha de cartões. (cartões eleitorais) Daniel Pedro, S. Pedro da Barra

I saw yesterday in Benguela, but particularly in the city of Bocoio there is a tremendous collection of (voter ID) cards. Daniel Pedro, S. Pedro da Barra

Manos para ajudar e denunciar. Haverá muita abstenção porque alguns eleitores de Viana, mesmo pedindo para votar em Viana, o nome saíu na ilha e alguns até no interior, no Bié. Não assinado

Brothers for help and to complain. There will be lots of abstention because some voters from Viana, even after requesting to vote in Viana, their names came up on the island and some even in the interior, in Bié. Anonymous

Moreover, young people trained to be polling staff complained that they had been substituted by mysterious replacements, people who did not attend the week long training. Citizen journalist Herculano Coroado filmed this interview with one

Another problem has been accreditation of observers. Anthropologist Claudia Gastrow wrote on the eve of the vote in her post “Beer and Circuses No Longer Enough

Most credible local civil society groups have been not been accredited, and the EU is not sending an official mission, meaning that observation is left to SADC [Southern African Development Community] and the AU [African Union].

Competition, apathy

On Saturday, a large opposition march in the city of Huambo was held to protest “repeated manipulations and violations by the National Electoral Commission, an institution attached to the MPLA [ruling party]”

CASA-CE candidate Abel Chivukuvuku was filmed campaigning on foot in the unpaved streets of Cazenga, outside of Luanda. His campaign went through the streets asking people if they had ever seen incumbent President José Eduardo dos Santos do that. (All said no.)

The campaigning period was not without drama either. On the eve of the vote, blog Maka Angola published an account of an incident involving an armed man approaching UNITA’s candidate in Benguela on Tuesday.

For Gastrow “the widespread belief that the results will be fraudulent works in favour of the MPLA as it leads to voter apathy”

Angolans suspect that the MPLA has manipulated the voter lists and will control the release of results so that an MPLA victory is predetermined. [...] Angolans have little faith in the international community, not only because its presence will be thin on the ground, but also because they believe that most countries, more interested in protecting their oil interests than promoting democracy, will rubber-stamp the results. One of the biggest dangers to Angolan democracy is the widespread belief that given the power of the MPLA, democracy is simply not possible in Angola. Nevertheless, an MPLA whitewash is unlikely to be accepted as complacently as previously.

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