February 9, 2007

Angola to hold elections in 2008, 2009, says President

President Eduardo dos Santos has announced that legislative elections would be held in 2008 and would be followed by presidential polls in 2009. "The biggest task of the MPLA ... is to prepare the party to contest legislative elections in 2008," he told the party's 6th congress in comments carried on state radio. "Everything related to presidential elections in 2009, including the party's choice of leader, will be decided after legislative elections in 2008," he said. A senior advisory panel appointed by Angola's government suggested in December that the presidential poll, originally expected in 2006 and then pushed back to late 2007, should not take place until the middle of 2009. Parliamentary elections would be held one year before, according to the proposal.
Dos Santos, in office since 1979, has said the country's road and bridge network, which was shattered during a 27-year civil war, needed to be improved before elections could be held.
The daunting task of registering an estimated 7.5 million eligible voters, including tens of thousands of returning refugees displaced by the war, also looms over an election.
Noting the country's sketchy record at the ballot box, the last presidential election in 1992 was cancelled after a disputed first round, observers are openly questioning whether the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) intends to honour its latest electoral pledge. (Rts)

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