By Shrikesh Laxmidas
LUANDA (Reuters) – Angola’s main opposition party UNITA on Tuesday challenged the results of a national election last month in which it finished a distant second behind the ruling MPLA party, calling the vote unfair and a “fraud.”
UNITA’s challenge, filed with the national elections commission (CNE), had been widely expected after the August 31 vote, which won broad approval from electoral observer teams from the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking States.
Full provisional results announced by the CNE on Friday showed President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ governing MPLA party winning with 72 percent of the votes, far ahead of former rebel group UNITA with nearly 19 percent.
The win gave Dos Santos a new five-year term to extend his nearly 33 years at the helm of Africa’s No. 2 oil producer, but swelling discontent over the unequal distribution of oil wealth could still strain the MPLA’s grip on power.
Before the vote, opponents of Dos Santos such as UNITA leader Isaias Samakuva and civil society activists criticised the preparations as one-sided and plagued with irregularities. They accused the MPLA of using the CNE to rig the election, a charge denied by electoral officials and the ruling party.
“The election was an unequal, unfair and disloyal competition in which the Angolan people were the main victims of a fraud,” UNITA said in a statement.
Third-placed CASA-CE, a party created four months ago by UNITA dissident Abel Chivukuvuku and which obtained 6 percent of the votes, has also filed allegations about irregularities.
No one at the national elections commission or the MPLA was immediately available for comment. Read more…