Let Angolans chart their own course
Angolans go to the polls towards the end of this month to choose a new leader to replace President Eduardo dos Santos, who is stepping down after more than three decades in power. Angola.
Angola becomes the second SADC country to go to the polls this year, after Lesotho, and everyone in the region hopes the process goes on smoothly and that the will of the people of Angola will prevail.
As we reported last week, campaigning is in full swing in the oil and diamond-rich former Portuguese colony.
President dos Santos (75), who has led the southern African country for the past 38 years, will be replaced by current Defence Minister Joao Lourenco as the ruling MPLA candidate in the August 23 poll.
Lourenco will square up with Abel Chivukuvuku of the CASA-CE coalition, Isaías Samakuva, a candidate of the former rebel UNITA, and other candidates from a hodge-podge of smaller parties in the country.
We commend the Angolans for the peaceful campaign, moreso given that only a few years ago, the country was ravaged by civil war.
We commend the government for rebuffing attempts by European powers to interfere in the country’s elections.
As we reported last week, the Angolan government has rejected the European Parliament’s request to send an observer mission to the general elections because this violates the country’s electoral legislation.
The director for Africa, the Middle East and regional organisations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joaquim do Espírito Santo, said that the European Parliament intended to “stay longer” in Angola as part of an electoral observation mission, but the Angolan electoral law does not allow that.
We believe it is high time Africa nations took charge of their own systems without interference from western powers.
In fact, Africa, through institutions like the continental body, the African Union and the regional SADC, have over the years managed to put in place systems to ensure elections on the continent are held in a free and fair atmosphere.
Gone are the days of coup d’tats and the continent has come of age in terms of ensuring that elections are held in accordance with the wills of the peoples on the continent.
SADC, on its part, developed the Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in 2001 and since then, the region has managed to conduct polls in a peaceful, free and fair manner.
We do not believe elections in SADC, or any part of Africa for that matter, need to be endorsed as free and fair by some European or western bodies.
Much as we welcome election observers on the continent, these must comply with member states’ laws, where they are invited.
We have noticed over the years how western governments have tried to impose their own models of democracy on the continent and we believe it is high that Africa was left to pursue its own models without outside interference.
After all, we are too aware of western hypocrisy and double standards. Memories of western support to Jonas Savimbi are still fresh in our minds!