EU may send observers for Angola poll

By Time of article published Apr 19, 2012

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Luanda - The European Union may send observers to monitor Angola's election later this year, but it would be a smaller mission than the one sent for a 2008 ballot, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Thursday.

“The election in 2012 will be important for the consolidation of democracy in Angola and we think that, if we are invited, it is possible to send a lighter mission of election experts,” Angolan national radio cited Barroso as saying during a visit to the country's parliament.

The election, set to be held in the third quarter, will select lawmakers and Angola's president, and will be only the second since it emerged from a 27-year civil war a decade ago.

In the 2008 ballot, the EU sent 108 observers, many of whom spent several weeks there and visited hundreds of polling stations in Angola's 18 provinces.

The parliamentary leader of the ruling MPLA party, Virgilio de Fontes Pereira said Angola had already requested European authorities to prepare an observation mission.

“That shows we are not moved by any fear, on the contrary we want our elections to be observed with rigour, transparency and also respect for our sovereignty,” Fontes Pereira said.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for 32 years, has not yet disclosed whether he will lead the MPLA in the election, but is widely expected to do so.

The MPLA won the civil war against its rivals Unita and then obtained 82 percent of the vote in 2008.

The EU observers said the election had been a positive step towards democracy but revealed “organisational weaknesses, procedural inconsistencies and an uneven playing field for contestants”. - Reuters

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