February 12, 2004

ANGOLA: General elections announced for 2006

Angola's ruling MPLA party has presented its political agenda for the year 2004, placing emphasis on re-organisation and preparation for the electoral process and presenting a two-year period for the general elections to take place, accepting to discuss a consensual date. Hence, the elections will not take place until 2006. Joao Martins, the MPLA's secretary for political and electoral affairs, noted that the state administration - virtually destroyed during the 27-year-long civil war - still had to be fully restored across the country before voter lists could be drawn up. Roads also needed rehabilitation and de-mining efforts stepped up before the poll could go ahead. Opposition party UNITA has reacted with surprise after it had called for elections to be held in 2005. Its leader, Isaias Samakuva, said that while the constitutional revision was an important process, authorities should not use this as an excuse to delay polling. However, Angola's National Liberation Front (FNLA) has defended the new election date.

In the last general election of 1992, Angola's first multiparty contest since independence, the MPLA won 54 percent of the vote in the legislative elections and UNITA 34 percent. In the presidential poll the results were closer. Dos Santos scored 49.6 percent to UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's 40.7 percent. However, UNITA rejected the result and resumed the civil war, which was only brought to a final close in 2002. (Angola Press Agency, Luanda)

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