Sun, Jan 22, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Angola’s UNITA condemns return of election head

Reuters, LISBON

Angola’s main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), plans to challenge the reappointment of National Electoral Commission (NEC) head Suzana Ingles, saying the move undermines the body’s independence and raises tension ahead of an election later this year.

Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos has long been accused of avoiding public scrutiny, mismanaging Angolan oil revenues and doing too little to fight graft and widespread poverty in Africa’s second largest oil producer after Nigeria.

The parliamentary election to be held in the third quarter of this year will be only the second in Angola since the end of a devastating 27-year civil war in 2002, and the third since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

In a statement posted on its Web site, UNITA said the reappointment of Ingles as head of the electoral commission violated Angola’s new election law.

The law was passed last month with unanimous support in parliament after a deal ended months of negotiations. UNITA had accused the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party of trying to control the election by stripping the commission of power.

Ingles was re-appointed by the Angolan Magistrates Superior Council, a body whose members are selected by dos Santos, who has held power since 1979.

UNITA said Ingles did not fit the legal requirements to head the commission as she is a lawyer and not a magistrate court judge, and cannot be seen as independent as she is a a leading member of the MPLA women’s organization, OMA.

“We believe the MPLA’s attitude violates the law and creates an unnecessary atmosphere of tension,” the Portuguese state news agency Lusa quoted a UNITA spokesman as saying.

A new Constitution approved in 2010 stipulates that the person at the top of the list of the party that wins a parliamentary election becomes Angola’s president without the need for a presidential ballot.

The MPLA won the civil war against UNITA and obtained 82 percent of the vote in an election four years ago. It is widely expected to win this year’s vote.

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