Angola’s main opposition party has filed a case with the country’s constitutional court to seek the annulment of last month’s election in which the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was declared the winner.
The August 24 elections were the most hotly contested in the oil-rich country since its first multi-party vote in 1992.
Taking just more than 51 percent of the votes, the electoral commission declared the MPLA the winner — prolonging the party’s nearly five decades of uninterrupted rule and handing President Joao Lourenco a second term.
The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) — a former rebel movement that fought a bitter 27-year civil war against the MPLA government that ended in 2002 — took about 44 percent, its best result ever.
In a late-night video address on Thursday, UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior, 60, repeated that the former rebel movement did “not recognise the final results” from the national electoral commission.
“The MPLA did not win the election … we have been in peace for 20 years, and we now need to embrace a true democratic rule of law,” Costa Junior said in an address to the nation streamed on his Facebook page.
The UNITA leader said he expected the constitutional court and the commission to do their jobs by comparing their vote count with the party’s vote tally, which has yet to be fully released.
UNITA decided to take the matter to court after its complaints were dismissed by the commission on Tuesday.
“We will do everything to ensure that all votes are effectively accounted for and respected,” Costa Junior said.
On its official Instagram account, UNITA said it had filed the lawsuit to annul the election, confirming an earlier report by Portuguese news agency Lusa, which cited a source close to the party’s leadership saying the case listed “several complaints, which amount to illegalities” committed by the commission.
UNITA has repeatedly said that it does not recognise the results of the vote and that various complaints have been filed with the electoral commission. The party has cited discrepancies between the commission’s count and the party’s own tally.
Though the commission has denied any wrongdoing, and insists the election was fair and transparent, four of the 16 electoral commissioners did not sign off on the final results, expressing doubts about the process.
Earlier on Thursday, Artur Torres, a spokesperson for the Constitutional Court, explained that after the commission reaches a decision, the complainant can appeal before the court. The court now has 72 hours to inform all interested parties and another 72 hours to rule on the issue.
Analysts say the ruling party controls the court, which is led by a former MPLA member, but the government says it exercises its powers independently.
Prime Minister Lourenco, 68, has pledged to press on with reforms in his second term, including privatising poorly-run state assets and continuing to clean up corruption.
But so far his reforms have failed to create a fairer distribution of Angola’s vast oil wealth — Africa’s second-largest producer — which remains mostly in the hands of a few well-connected MPLA officials.
The MPLA has been the only party to govern the country since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. But the ruling party saw its poorest showing this year, down from its victory with 61 percent of the vote in 2017.
Turnout was low, with just about 45 percent of those registered casting their ballots.