Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producer, reaching 2 million barrels a day. It is also OPEC's newest member. Angolans go to the polls on Friday 5 September 2008 for legislative elections, the first multiparty polls since 1992. Ten parties and four coalitions with 5,198 candidates will contest 220 seats.
Chatham House's pre-election assessment examines the run-up to these elections in this strategic southern African country whose export earnings in 2008 will be over US$84 billion. Over 8 million voters have registered for these elections which represent a milestone in Angola's post-conflict transition. They also form part of a wider process with presidential elections scheduled for 2009 and municipal elections in 2010. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has been in power since independence from Portugal in 1975.
Given the MPLA's institutional and financial strength, it is expected to win the election and might increase its majority which would allow it to change the constitution. For the main opposition party, the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) these elections will determine how relevant they are, after their military defeat and six years of peace.
Perhaps as a result of the war, but also because of their low levels of literacy
and high levels of poverty, women have barely been visible on Angola’s
political scene, with only few holding senior party positions. In early 2008, the
government launched a plan to increase the number of women involved in
politics. This gender equality plan, still to be ratified, imposes a 30 per cent
quota for female participation in both government and political structures.
Although it should be applauded that nearly a third of candidates in Angola's
upcoming parliamentary elections are female, it is below 50 per cent
threshold established in 2005 by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). It would be a real achievement if women were elected by
local people especially at the municipal and local level.
Access to the media
The playing field for the political contest is particularly unequal in access to
media. Although, the private media in Angola is largely independent of party
politics and is often critical of government, the state very much dominates the
only daily national newspaper, Jornal de Angola, and the only non-satellite
Angolan Public Television (TPA). Opposition parties often complain that they
experience censorship when trying access the state media, through manipulated reporting and editorial alignment.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
ANGOLA ELECTIONS: A CHATHAM HOUSE PRE-ASSESSMENT REPORT
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