September 15, 2008

Ruling MPLA clearly wins parliamentary election

Angola's main opposition party, UNITA, has conceded defeat the parliamentary elections, after initially demanding a fresh ballot over allegations of poll irregularities. UNITA leader IsaĆ­as Samakuva said he accepted the outcome of the poll and praised the incumbent MPLA party, hoping it "governs in the interest of all Angolans". "After about 80 percent of valid votes have been counted, despite all that has happened, the leadership of UNITA accepts the results of the elections," Samakuva said. Other opposition parties echoed UNITA's acceptance of the outcome of Angola's first elections in 16 years.
As the counting process continues, the MPLA holds a huge lead, scoring close to 82 percent of the vote to UNITA's 10 percent. With a two-thirds majority in the 220-seat assembly, MPLA will have the power to change the country's constitution as it sees fit.
International election observers, while accepting the result, have criticised aspects of the poll. An African Union team said although it was free and fair, the MPLA had benefited from unfair access to the state-dominated media. The European Union noted problems with the organisation of the election, but concluded that people had clearly voted massively for the MPLA.
The US Embassy congratulated Angolans "on their participation in this important step in strengthening their democracy" but noted the procedural problems encountered with the ballot, and hoped valuable lessons would be learnt for Angola's future polls, beginning with next year's presidential elections.
In the meantime, it got known that Angola is to chair the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as from Jan. 1, 2009, Angolan Oil Minister, Desiderio Costa has disclosed.The minister highlighted the fact that the news arrived at a very special moment for Angola, just after the holding of the parliamentary election on September 5, the first since the 27-year civil war ended in the southwestern African country in 2002. (rts)

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