August 26, 2004

Opposition parties return to electoral commission

Opposition parties have resumed their participation in a parliamentary commission charged with laying the groundwork for the country's first post-war elections. They had walked out of the commission in May, after months of urging the authorities to set a date for presidential and legislative elections, but returned just days after the government unveiled its proposed electoral timetable. The timetable proposed September 2006 as the date for holding the national poll, preceded by a month of electoral campaigning in August. "The fact that the MPLA has revealed its electoral calendar shows not only UNITA but also the whole country that the government is serious about elections and democracy. At least we now have a document to refer to when preparing for the elections," Alcides Sakala, UNITA's secretary for public administration, said.

A recently published study by the ministry of territorial administration said Angola would need up to US $430 million to run national elections. It also recommended a preparatory period of 12 months for the simultaneous presidential and legislative ballots, noting that at an estimated US $89.4 million, voter registration was likely to be the most costly item. (IRIN)

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