Saturday, September 24, 2022

Belying fraud allegations: Court upholds Angola polls, African Union lauds successful vote

In a deathblow to the 2022 aspirations of the Angola’s opposition, the Constitutional Court of Angola junked the electoral protest lodged by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), declaring the case to be bereft of merit.

The decision upheld the win of the MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola), which had dominated the African country’s political landscape for nearly five decades. It also handed President Joao Lourenco a second term.

UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior had cried foul over alleged discrepancies between the count of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and his party's own tally. The poll body, on the other hand, had mightily defended the process to be fair and transparent.

UNITA claims that its parallel count shows it edging MPLA with the most razor-thin of margins — 49.5% vs 48.2%. A parallel count by civic movement Mudei indeed mirrors UNITA’s numbers.

In the face of the final and unappealable decision, UNITA and other opposition parties have called for peaceful demonstrations against so-called irregularities.

The biggest red flag seems to be the poll body’s failure to release results sheets from individual polling stations as they did in 2017, denying UNITAS the opportunity to compare it with parallel counts. Angola’s NEC only published aggregated results from 19 provinces. Exacerbating the bad optics is the fact that the CNE is largely MPLA-controlled, and that four out of the sixteen commissioners have repudiated the results.

The opposition also decries the lack of election observers, where only 1,300 were present to cover a country twice as big France, and questions why MPLA was given more airtime than others.

Yet even as the controversy hogged the headlines, analysts largely view the allegations as a fly in the ointment in an otherwise successful election. This, as election observers led by the influential African Union (AU), have cited the largely peaceful conduct of the polls.

AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat had lauded the exercise as an important milestone in the history of Angola, saying that "once again, the people of Angola have demonstrated their resolve for continuous search for democratic and participatory governance in their country.”

The chairperson went on to congratulate Angolans for turning out in droves to exercise their democratic right to choose their leaders, commend he smooth conduct of the polls, and praise the everyone involved for conducting themselves peacefully throughout the electoral process.

Mahamat has also urged Angolans to continue committing to peace and democracy, appealing for a peaceful and lawful resolution to all election disputes.