19 July 2017

Angola: To Observe or Not to Observe Elections - EU Yet to Decide

Photo: Angop
Ruling party MPLA supporters (file photo)

A decision on whether the EU will observe the Angolan elections will be made in the coming days, RFI learnt on Wednesday. The Angolan government earlier this week reportedly rejected demands by the EU election observer mission for unrestricted access to polling stations.

"The EU is in contact with the authorities of Angola to ensure that the necessary conditions are in place regarding both observers' access to all actors involved and to all stages of the electoral process as well as the security and safety of observers," an EU official told RFI.

"On this basis a decision will be made on the possible deployment of an Election Observation Mission in the coming days," said the official, who did not wish to be identified.

Angolans go to the polls on 23 August to elect a new president to replace President Eduardo Jose Dos Santos who has ruled the country since 1979.

The government this week said it would not accept demands about access for election monitoring teams.

"So this is Africa. And we do not expect anyone to impose on us their means of observing elections or to give lectures," said Foreign Minister Georges Chicoti, according to the Journal de Angola newspaper as cited by the AFP news agency.

The Angolan foreign ministry said safety could be an issue if EU observers were allowed unhindered access to polling stations in all 18 of the country's provinces, AFP reported.

Chicoti said the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc are the only organisations with agreements for election observation.

"These are the only institutions for which Angola must abide by the electoral processes laid down in law," he said.

The EU deployed election monitors to the Angola polls in 2008, saying that the election had demonstrated a "positive step towards strengthening democracy with a high voter turnout and a calm electoral process". However, it also highlighted "organisational weaknesses, procedural inconsistencies on election day and an uneven playing field for contestants".

EU monitors were not sent to Angola's 2012 polls when Dos Santos' ruling MPLA party took almost 72 per cent of the vote, beating the opposition UNITA party by more than 53 per cent.

The EU in June had advertised staff vacancies for the Angola election observation mission with an initial deployment to the country expected on 7 July.

The EU election observation missions aim to "promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide", according to the External Action website. "It contributes to strengthening democratic institutions, building public confidence in electoral processes, helping to deter fraud, intimidation and violence."

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