Tension rises in Angola as elections approach

The atmosphere of tension in Angola is mounting and growing as the general elections approach, scheduled for the beginning of next August. The opposition, led by Adalberto Costa Júnior’s UNITA, is showing signs of gaining popular support, while the protest against João Lourenço and the party that has always been in power mounts.
UNITA accuses the MPLA of not respecting the separation of powers and Adalberto Costa Júnior, in statements to Nascer do SOL, is peremptory: “We have never approached an electoral process with such a lack of democracy and manipulation of data”. And he adds categorically: “We are in a dictatorship. Just like North Korea”.

The UNITA leader illustrates cases of manipulation of the voter registration process that the entire Angolan opposition attributes to the MPLA government: “In these elections, the dead will be able to vote”. And he specifies problems that have already been detected: “For the first time, we will also have Angolans abroad who will vote. But it is an absolute disaster. 10 countries. Many people have been excluded from the register. In the United States, no one was registered”.

According to Angola’s largest opposition party, the MPLA is aware that it could be heavily penalized by these elections and, therefore, data manipulation maneuvers have increased. And the electoral lists have not yet been published, fearing the opposition that they are not.

The opposition holding parliamentary seats in Angola has come together – something unprecedented – and drafted a memorandum, signed by the leaders of all the minority parties, which lists a set of acts that it considers to violate the electoral law and the Constitution.

“This week, we moved to the memo, where we summarized anomalies, suggesting corrections. The memorandum not only identifies the problems but also proposes solutions. A posture of dialogue: what did the PRs do yesterday? He summoned the presidents of the parties and proposed the absurdity of the interpretation – which even children do not make – in terms of data protection. It is rudeness. There is something hidden,” Costa Júnior added to Nascer do SOL.

In the memorandum, to which Nascer do SOL had access, the complaints regarding the electoral lists are highlighted. Although in theory “all Angolan citizens over the age of 18 are subject to voter registration”, in practice “citizens included in the elderly database and whose residence is inaccurate , will be excluded from the computer file of the elderly, from which the electoral lists will result”, as evidenced by the document. Moreover, despite the fact that the law specifies that “in an election year, the Computer File of Seniors is provided to the CNE up to 10 days after the call for elections”, the opposition notes that to date there is no there was no publication of the lists, accusing the executive of João Lourenço “of hindering the process of consultation and complaints of citizens”.

Simply put, UNITA accuses the Government and the MPLA of preventing the notebooks from being corrected.
Adalberto Costa Júnior notes that “the non-establishment of the electoral lists of those over 18 can distort the results”.

And it does not exclude the possibility of “recourse to the courts”, national and international.

“They play games. Undemocratic game. The party has never been interviewed by the press. It is censored in public bodies. The news is in favor of a ‘Party-State’”, proclaims Costa Júnior, reiterating that “Angola is equal to North Korea”.

The UNITA leader also accused the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Reform of intending to return to the “bad practices” of past elections, in which several voters were prevented from voting. Costa Júnior recalls that “thousands and thousands of citizens” discovered, “on polling day, that their names did not appear on the electoral rolls of the localities where they had registered. Precisely to avoid this, this procedure has been provided for and must be followed”.

End of MPLA hegemony?
Beyond the “legal language” in which the memorandum is written, it is important to highlight the serious charges against what subscribers along the Costa Júnior line refer to as the “Party-State” – the MPLA.
As an example, the United Opposition declares that “Angola is experiencing a serious threat and regression to the fundamental principles of the democratic state of law, which manifests itself in the interference of the executive power in the judicial system”. In addition, they note that “the Executive must respect and ensure respect for the laws, so that their actions are not called into question by the citizens”. They accuse the government of “organizing elections in any way whatsoever and outside the law”, rejecting and “vehemently” condemning this “trend and will”. Finally, they recommend to the MPLA “that it get rid of the Party-State posture, in order to make the electoral process viable in a democratic way”.
Angola really seems to be changing, recording never-before-seen scenes of public confrontation with the president and leader of the all-powerful party.

For example, João Lourenço was mocked upon his arrival in Cabinda and the population did not hesitate to chant slogans of support for UNITA as the presidential delegation passed by. And videos recorded by popular people, and which attest to this challenge, circulate on the internet.

“UNITA, UNITA” were also shouted spontaneously in a football stadium in Luanda, in the presence of President João Lourenço.

According to polls, which are worth what they are but which reveal tendencies, the MPLA has never been so threatened with losing its absolute majority. Despite the fact that in rural areas the ruling party remains largely in the majority, UNITA dominated the urban and educated vote, with the youngest being the protagonists of the regime’s most dissenting initiatives.

A poll carried out by Afrobarómetro, between February and March 2022, gives 29% of voting intentions to the MPLA and 22% to UNITA. In other words, the MPLA would lose its absolute majority for the first time in history.
Comparing the study with another carried out by the same agency in 2019, there is a sharp drop in the MPLA – from 38% to 29% – and an increase in UNITA in the opposite ratio – from 13% to 22%, thus leaving the gap between the parties of only 7 percentage points (the shortest ever recorded). Another interesting data from this survey is the number of people who do not reveal their intention to vote: 31%.

Adalberto Costa Júnior remains confident: “Despite the difficulties, we are going to do the alternation. Angola has everything to gain”.

Controversial Poll Law
Meanwhile, the National Assembly is discussing the Executive’s bill which, among other issues, determines the amount of 15 million kwanzas (about 35,000 euros) as the minimum share capital for the incorporation of polling-related companies. of opinion. . And through this law, the executive intends to impose limits and rules on companies linked to investigations which, in Angola, for lack of a legal framework, operate freely. Manuel Homem, Minister of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication, justified the capital requirement by “the need for companies to have sufficient solvency to repair any damage to third parties”. In addition, the Minister explains that the proposal allows studies and polls to be carried out during the election period, “as long as they are not disclosed in the media”. For the opposition, this ban is “a way of killing democracy and freedom of expression”.

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