The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. Southern Africa
  4. Angola

Election free and fair, sort of

[Angola] President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' truce after the death of longtime enemy Dr Jonas Savimbi has prompted rapid moves to peace (Angop)

Angola's main opposition party, UNITA, has conceded defeat in last week's parliamentary elections, after initially demanding a fresh ballot over allegations of poll irregularities.

The former guerrilla movement said "it was not possible" to say the elections had been free and fair, as voting had been extended for an unscheduled second day after 320 centres across the country failed to open on time on 5 September, and in locations where there had been problems with the supply of ballot papers.

UNITA also alleged that people had been allowed to vote without proper identification.

But in a news conference on Monday, held shortly after the national electoral commission had dismissed its complaints, UNITA leader Isaías 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. If the MPLA manages to win a two-thirds majority in the 220-seat assembly, it 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.

Angola, independent in 1975, struggled with 27 years of civil war until a peace agreement was signed with then UNITA rebels in 2002. The oil-rich country is now one of the world's fastest growing economies.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.