September 19, 2007

Elections get go-ahead

Angola has completed a marathon voter registration campaign ahead of much-delayed parliamentary elections. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has instructed the electoral commission to "take the necessary steps" but no date has yet been announced. According to the government, nearly eight million Angolans will be eligible to vote in parliamentary elections in 2008 and presidential polls in 2009. The government has delayed the polls repeatedly, citing poor infrastructure.
Opposition parties and foreign observers have questioned whether the party in power since independence from Portugal in 1975 is willing to risk facing millions of voters who have benefited only marginally from Angola's oil-fuelled economic boom. The country’s only national election since independence was held in 1992 but after the UN sanctioned the result which gave victory to the MPLA's Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the opposition Unita refused to accept the outcome and went back to war. Eduardo dos Santos came to power in 1979 when he was only 37 years old in the wake of the unexpected death from medical complications of Angola's first President, Dr Agostinho Neto. (Angola Press Agency, Luanda)

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