Lourenco blasts opposition electoral challenge

Santos Vilola

Luanda – President-elect João Lourenço has criticized the country’s opposition parties’ legal  challenge of the results of elections held last month.

He described the opposition as political forces that wanted to “tarnish and spoil the people’s feast”, by trying to discredit the work of practically all the actors in the electoral process”.

“As if that that was not enough, they came to question the very seriousness and propriety of the CNE (National Electoral Commission), an organ of the state that they are full members of,” he said.

He further accused the opposition parties of disregarding the electoral law, which they unanimously approved in the National Assembly.

“The attempt to incite civil disobedience only demonstrates that these political forces do not respect the popular will that was expressed at the polls, because they believe there are illegal ways to annul it,” he said.

In the august 23 poll, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) won 150 seats in the 220 member National Assembly, followed by the main opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) with 51 seats, the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition (CASA-CE) coalition 16 seats, and two seats for Social Renewal Party (PRS), while the Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) managed a single seat.

However, UNITA, CASA-CE, PRS and FNLA contested the outcome and appealed individually to the electoral court to have the results of the general elections annulled due to what they alleged were irregularities in the vote counting process.

They appealed to the Constitutional Court after the electoral commission initially dismissed their complaints as “unfounded”.

The opposition parties alleged that the August 23 election was marred by irregularities in the vote tabulation in some provinces, as the figures released by the CNE and those resulting from their parallel counting allegedly do not match.

The Constitutional Court on September 12 dismissed the application by FNLA as unsubstantiated.

The 11-judge panel also delivered a similar verdict against the appeal filed by the PRS.

In its judgment, the court maintained that it did not find anything amiss from the appeals that demonstrates possible prejudice against the appellants.

The court was expected to make a judgment on the appeals filed by UNITA and CASA-CE and analysts expected that it would rule against all the opposition parties’                                                                       appeals.

With the legal huddle out of the way, Lourenço, married to economist Ana Dias Lourenço and father of six children, is expected to be sworn in as the new Angolan president in Luanda on September 21, succeeding longtime ruler Josè Eduardo do Santos.

He was born in Lobito in Benguela province, on March 5, 1954. His father, Sequeira João Lourenço, was a nurse and a nationalist who served three years in prison for his clandestine political activities.

Lourenço is a three-star general who fought in the war of independence against the Portuguese, and in the subsequent Angolan civil war.

A member of the MPLA’s Political Bureau, Lourenço was appointed Minister of National Defence by President Dos Santos in 2015 and elected party vice-president in August,                2016.

He has promised that his administration, with the help of the Angolan people, will work to build a better future for the country.

“Mission accomplished. We will produce a better future for the country and the people,” he said in his first proclamation when the CNE announced that his MPLA party had won the August 23 election.

The party, in power since 1975, was declared winner of the general elections with 4,164,157 votes, or 61.1 percent of the votes.

In his first statement after the release of the definitive results, Lourenço thanked the opposition parties for taking part in the elections and promised to open channels for future engagement.

The former defence minister also thanked the Angolan people for the maturity, patriotism and civism demonstrated throughout the electoral process.

September 2017
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