Angola court rejects poll result appeal, opposition urges protest

The opposition had rejected the results, citing discrepancies between the commission’s count and its own tally.

Angolan opposition leader Adalberto Costa Junior speaking at a rally outside the capital Luanda, Angola in August 2022.
Adalberto Costa Junior, leader of Angola's main opposition party UNITA, at a rally outside the capital, Luanda, in August 2022 [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

Angola’s Constitutional Court made a final ruling on Thursday to dismiss a complaint filed by the runner-up in the August 24 election seeking to annul the results that gave victory to the ruling MPLA party.

After the country’s most closely fought election, the electoral commission declared the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) the winner last week. That paved the way for a second term for President Joao Lourenco and extended the MPLA’s stay in power, which has continued uninterrupted since independence in 1975.

Just over 51 percent of voters supported the ex-Marxist MPLA, it said.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), its longtime opponent and former civil war rival, took about 44 percent, its best result on record, according to the commission.

UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior rejected the results, citing discrepancies between the commission’s count and his party’s tally. He accused the electoral commission, mostly controlled by the MPLA, of fraud.

The commission has repeatedly said the process was fair and transparent.

According to UNITA’s parallel count, it got 49.5 percent of the vote and the MPLA, 48.2 percent. A parallel count by civic movement Mudei, which monitored the process, also showed UNITA slightly ahead.

The court, led by a former MPLA member, made an initial ruling on Monday against a complaint filed by UNITA but Thursday’s decision is final and cannot be appealed, paving the way for Lourenco to be sworn in next week.

Court chief Laurinda Cardoso told reporters that evidence was analysed and, based on that, they decided to reject the case.

UNITA and other opposition parties called for peaceful demonstrations to protest against what they have described as election “irregularities”.

Among other issues, there were only 1,300 observers to cover a country twice the size of France and about 2.7 million deceased people were included in the electoral roll.

People took to social media to urge the electoral commission to release its result sheets so they could be compared with parallel counts.

“We demand electoral truth,” a young woman said in a video shared by Mudei on Twitter. “No to fraud!”

Angola has placed its armed forces in “high combat readiness” until September 20 to avoid incidents that might “disturb public order”, it said.

Analysts fear the court decision could ignite mass street protests among frustrated youth who voted for UNITA.

Source: Reuters