5 June 2003

MPLA ready for elections next year

The largest political party in Angola, the MPLA, has declared that it is ready to fight national and presidential elections next year. The party's Secretary of Information, Norberto dos Santos "Kwata Kanawa", told Angola National Radio on 14 May that the preference was for next year.

Despite this readiness to fight the next elections, there remain serious obstacles to holding free and fair elections in Angola. The programme to return refugees to their homes is designed to take two years, there are still over two million internally displaced people, and roads and bridges are in a terrible state. These are major obstacles to the basic necessities of carrying out a complete electoral census. Whilst some small parties, such as the Social Development Party, want early elections, the country's second largest party, UNITA, is in favour of a delay until it is able to reorganise itself - having until recently been an armed opposition headed by Jonas Savimbi. The Angolan government is looking at 2005 as the most likely time for the elections, but the actual date will probably be chosen by consensus between the major parties and the administration.

Meanwhile, the MPLA is preparing for a Congress in December at which major changes are expected. It has been announced that internal elections will take place by secret ballot and that almost half of the Central Committee is to be changed. The Congress will also decide whether Jose Eduardo dos Santos will stand again for the position of President. He has indicated that he does not wish to stand again, but many observers continue to question whether he is serious about relinquishing power. However, some see this as an ideal time to step down, with the MPLA very likely to win the next elections.

Meanwhile, debates about the country's future constitution are taking place. The Angolan news agency, ANGOP, reported on 2 June that a forum on the constitution is to take place in Uige province from 9 June, promoted by the Angolan Catholic University and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The Angolan parliament has a Constitutional Commission which is carrying out a consultation process prior to proposing a draft constitution. The adoption of a new constitution is one of the key tasks to be carried out before any election can be organised. (Angola Peace Monitor)


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