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Provisional Election Results Show Angola's Longtime Ruling Party Is Staying Put

National Assembly in Luanda. Photo: davidstanleytravel/Flickr, CC-BY 2.0

The provisional results of the parliamentary elections in Angola, held on 23 August, show a victory for the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party, which has been in power since the country’s independence in 1975.

According to the National Election Commission (CNE), the MPLA obtained 64.57%, guaranteeing the party control of two-thirds of the parliament and the right to nominate the president of the republic.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the largest opposition party, obtained 24.04%, followed by The Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE) with 8.56%. The voter abstention rate was 23.17%, according to the CNE. The opposition, however, contests this results.

This election marks the end of the rule of José Eduardo dos Santos, the president of the MPLA and the longest-serving head of state in Africa. Once the MPLA’s victory is confirmed, João Lourenço – a party veteran and the current defense minister – is to take his place.

José Eduardo dos Santos, however, will likely remain powerful behind the scenes. At the end of June, the parliament guaranteed him a place on the Council of the Republic, an advisory body to the president whose members enjoy immunity from prosecution, which will prevent the origin of his fortune being investigated.

In an effort to keep authorities accountable, a citizen election-monitoring platform called Jiku encouraged poll workers to send them photos of their station’s vote counts via WhatsApp before forwarding them along to the CNE.

On August 27, Jiku stated it had scrutinized, using photos, more than 300,000 valid votes, with results that differ from those officially given: the MPLA leads with 50.49%, then UNITA with 34.10%, and CASA-CE with 13.61%.

UNITA, as in previous elections, contested the results shared by the CNE. Fernando Veloso, director of the newspaper Jornal Canal de Moçambique, said:

O vice-presidente da UNITA, Raúl Danda, contestou hoje o anúncio de vitória do MPLA nas eleições gerais angolanas, exortando a Comissão Nacional Eleitoral a ter a coragem de divulgar os resultados provisórios reais que vão chegando aos partidos.

A UNITA diz que os resultados que lhe estão a chegar contradizem o anúncio da MPLA.

The vice-president of UNITA, Raúl Danda, today contested the announcement of the MPLA’s victory in Angola's general elections, calling on the National Election Commission to have the courage to share the real provisional results which are coming to the parties.

UNITA says that the results which are coming to it contradict the announcement of the MPLA.

Voters used social media point out irregularities, like the activist Hossi Sonjamba:

Três Províncias de Angola, Cunene, Benguela e umas das Lundas que corresponde a 15 Assembleias de Voto ficaram sem exercer o direito de voto.
E irão às urnas no dia 26 de Agosto de 2017 no Sábado que vem, visto que não votaram hoje no dia 23 .
Fonte : CNE

Three Provinces of Angola, Cunene, Benguela, and some of the Lundas which correspond to 15 voting stations have not yet exercised the right to vote.
And they will go to the ballot box on 26 August 2017 on the coming Saturday, as they did not vote today on the 23rd.
Source: CNE

Bruno Constantino, an Angolan journalist, described how the day of the vote went, highlighting some nervousness among the electoral authorities:

Na Assembleia de Voto número 89, Mesa número 01, o funcionário da CNE insurgiu-se contra mim por eu ter perguntado, de forma simpática, pela presença dos delegados de lista das formações políticas concorrentes. Com ele dois outros colegas tiveram a mesma postura. Tentaram molestar-me. Mas a minha serenidade e a pronta intervenção de um dos delegados de lista de um dos contendores evitou que a situação passasse daí além. Não ficou nada bem a CNE na fotografia, que parece estar mais nervosa do que os próprios concorrentes. (…)

In Voting Station number 89, Table Number 01, the CNE employee reacted badly to me for having asked, in a friendly way, about the presence of delegates of the list of competing political formations. His two other colleagues had the same attitude. They tried to harass me. But my calmness and the quick intervention of one of the delegates from the list of one of the candidates avoided an escalation of the situation. The CNE did not look at all good in the photograph, looking more nervous that the candidates themselves […]

On its Facebook page the television channel Televisão RAIAR criticized the detention of delegates from the list of opposition parties:

Polícia prende Delegada de Lista da UNITA em Nehone

Por reclamar da violação do funcionamento da Assembleia 9433, Nehone, município de Kwanhama, A Delegada de lista efectiva da UNITA Justina Nashovanu está detida na Esquadra Policial daquele município.

Police detain delegate of UNITA’s list in Nehone:

For having complained of the violation of the workings of Station 9433, Nehone, Kwanhama municipality, the delegate of UNITA’s list, Justina Nashovanu, is detained by the police in that municipality.

On Facebook, UNITA accused police of taking violent action at some voting stations:

POLÍCIA DE INTERVENÇÃO RÁPIDA DISPARA CONTRA ELEITORES

Polícia de intervenção rápida na Província do Huambo, deteve a 15 minutos, delegados de lista da UNITA na assembleia nº 4287 na escola nº 42 localizada no Bairro de Cavongue, quando esses tentavam identificar um movimento estranha que dava conta da entrada de algumas urnas desconhecidas com boletins votados. E estão a disparar contra os eleitores e espancamento aos mesmos.

RAPID ACTION POLICE FIRE ON VOTERS

Rapid action police in the province of Huambo, detained delegates of UNITA’s list for 15 minutes at Station number 4287 in school number 42 located in the neighbourhood of Cavongue, when they tried to identify a strange movement which indicated the entry of some unknown ballot boxes with marked ballots. And they are firing on voters and beating them

Before knowing the rate of abstention, some were already had doubts about the turnout of voters, such as Dago Nível:

Das duas uma, ou a cne dessa vez aumentou o numero de Assembleias de voto e se organizou muito melhor, ou a abstenção dessa vez foi maior que nas eleições passada.

O que aconteceu é que ate as 15 horas, quase todas as assembleias de voto estavam as moscas. . .

One of two things, either this time the CNE increased the number of voting stations and organized itself much better, or the rate of abstention this time was higher than in previous elections.

What happened is that until 15:00, almost all the voting stations were mostly empty…

Some were still talking about a punishment by the National Election Commission for the sharing of the results:

The #CNE is torturing us well, 2:23 no sleep, let alone the preliminary results. But we are very stubborn and will resist

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