Angola’s Political Trajectory as João Lourenço wins Re-election

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In Angola, like many other African states, the President is the country’s head of state and administration.

By the 2010 constitution, the president is the only executive official granted some degree of legislative authority. All other forms of executive authority according to the constitution are suspended. This only indicates that he would by any given chance rule by decree.

Meanwhile, it should be recalled that the office of the president originated with Angola’s independence from Portugal. This happened when Agostinho Neto’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) ousted the Portuguese from power. It was after this that he was given the office. After Neto’s passing in 1979, José Eduardo dos Santos took over.

Although it was still under Dos Santos’ control, Angola developed into a multi-party state under his administration. In that regard, Dos Santos was re-elected with 49% in the 1992 election.

At the same time, the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Jonas Savimbi, who was his rival then was charged with election rigging.

The president is only eligible for two five-year terms in this country. The five-year term is, therefore, extendable after two rounds of first-past-the-post voting.

The name of the candidate at the top of each participating party’s list must be identified on the ballot consequently and according to the 2010 Constitution, the presidential candidate of the party with the most votes is chosen.

With this in mind, the new constitution also eliminates the position of prime minister and replaces it with that of the vice president.

First up, general elections for the president and National Assembly were held on August 24, 2022. João Lourenço, the president in office, was one of the qualified contenders. But because he had already served one term after being elected president in 2017, this limited his eligibility to only one more.

According to preliminary data, the MPLA was re-elected with a smaller majority, earning 124 seats and receiving 51% of the vote.

With 44% of the vote, UNITA, the major opposition party, won 90 seats. Each of the Humanist Party of Angola (PHA), National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), and Social Renewal Party (PRS) won two seats. Political analysts say that this year, the selection is to date one of the closest in Angola’s history between the MPLA and UNITA.

As history recalls, the MPLA has been in charge since Angola achieved its independence in 1975. In the previous election, which was conducted in 2017, the MPLA, which was in power, easily won reelection with 61% of the vote. Despite suffering a 25-seat loss, the MPLA nonetheless secured 150 seats in the National Assembly, maintaining its supermajority.

Despite only winning 51 seats, the strongest opposition party, UNITA, did obtain 19 seats with a 26% vote share. 16 seats were obtained by CASA-CE, 2 by the PRS, and 1 by the FNLA.

And of course, UNITA accused the winning party of electoral fraud and brought a lawsuit after the election. The constitutional court, however, rejected UNITA’s appeal.
The long-serving head of state, José Eduardo dos Santos, did not seek re-election to the presidency and was succeeded by defence minister João Lourenço.

This year’s election date was announced on April 6, 2022. The polling locations were open from 7 am to 5 pm local time. The election, according to local observers, was free.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers said that the vote was peaceful but pointed out the absence of local observers.

Due to allegations that some candidates received more airtime, party delegates were denied access to the voter registration list at polling places, and approximately 2.7 million people who had passed away were listed on the voter registration list, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries’ observer mission did not initially rate the election as fair and free.

The election was peacefully handled, according to a representative for the European Union, but they were aware of complaints about several inadequacies. But the elections included eight parties on the ballot. Among them included the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA.

National Union for the Total Independence of Angola UNITA, Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition CASA–CE, Social Renewal Party PRS, National Liberation Front of Angola FNLA, National Patriotic Alliance APN, Nationalist Party for Justice in Angola P-NJANGO, Humanist Party of Angola PHA.

However, the United Patriotic Front, UPF, was the name of the partnership that the major Angolan opposition groups announced on October 5 of last year.

According to FPU spokesman Amandio Capoco in Luanda, Adalberto Costa Junior of UNITA has been selected as the opposition candidate against President Joao Lourenço in the August 2022 election.

Capoco called the coalition “an alliance of eager Angolans eager for change.”
In his reaction, Adalberto Costa Junior declared that he is prepared to take on Joao Lourenço, saying that “our homeland is crying out for change” and described it as a nation “stricken by despair and by impoverishment.”

The passing of former president José Eduardo dos Santos on July 8, 2022, also cast a cloud on the campaign.

The dos Santos family and the current president, João Lourenço, had a long-running dispute in which the family accused the president of persecuting them and demanded that several of the dos Santos children be granted pardons for the body of José Eduardo dos Santos to be returned to Angola for burial.

Some of the ex-Allies presidents and family members have been imprisoned as part of his anti-corruption effort.

Poverty at a high level and unemployment were campaign topics. Few MPLA leaders continue to control the majority of the nation’s oil wealth. Costa Junior, a UNITA candidate, was well-liked by youth, many of whom were unemployed.

UNITA received 44% of the vote, while MPLA received 51%.

Other parties received a maximum of 1.2%.

The two main parties won all 90 constituency seats: MPLA won 57, mostly in the central and southern regions, and UNITA won 33, with its support being strongest in the northwest.

The PRS, FNLA, and PHA all received two seats each, while the MPLA won 67 and UNITA 57 of the seats across the country.

In contrast to their previous general election victory of 9% of the vote, CASA-CE garnered just 0.76% of the vote, losing all 16 of the seats they had previously held.
The United States advised all sides to voice their opinions peacefully and settle disputes legally.

The European Union urged parties to raise their concerns through legal channels and urged the relevant authorities to do so fairly and openly.

The MPLA was congratulated on their victory by the Portuguese Communist Party, which also said that they have the bare minimum of support required to rule. “Interference operations from Portugal,” they said in their warning.

Despite winning the majority, the Left Bloc in Portugal believed the outcomes to be a dire signal to the MPLA dictatorship.

Chega criticized the MPLA-led administration for failing to address poverty, corruption, and Angola’s sluggish rates of progress and viewed the elections as a squandered opportunity for change.

They also criticized Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s attendance at former president Santos’ funeral.

President Lorenço and the MPLA were congratulated on their reelection by Namibia’s president and SADC chair Hage Geingob.

The election was described by Geingob as calm and “compliant with the new SADC principles and guidelines regulating democratic elections and the relevant Angolan laws.”

UNITA will contest the findings after rejecting them. They have griped about outcomes that don’t match their tallies and a lack of openness. Election results in Angola can be challenged by filing a complaint with the National Electoral Commission, and if that complaint is denied, the Constitutional Court must issue a decision within 72 hours.

After looking into the Dos Santos family, Lourenço promised to continue reforms, including selling off state assets and battling corruption. Additionally, he pledged to diversify the economy, increase employment, modernize the educational system, and improve healthcare. He asserts that the MPLA won genuinely and that the election was open, honest, and free.

When MPLA supporters attacked a UNITA office on September 3, 2022, eleven individuals were hurt and several vehicles were set on fire.

UNITA called for widespread demonstrations against the MPLA after the Constitutional Court dismissed the appeal of the results.

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