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Cablegate: Dos Santos Set to Call Elections for September 5

VZCZCXRO0182
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0432 1551718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031718Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4820
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS LUANDA 000432

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM AO
SUBJECT: DOS SANTOS SET TO CALL ELECTIONS FOR SEPTEMBER 5

REF: 07 LUANDA 01275

1. (U) SUMMARY: It appears President Dos Santos will
officially call on June 4 for legislative elections to be
held on Friday, September 5. In his address to open the June
3 Council of the Republic meeting, Dos Santos reported that
the National Election Commission (CNE) had assured him
conditions for elections would be ready to meet the September
timeframe. The Council of the Republic unanimously concurred
with the assessment and urged the President to convoke
elections on only one day, versus the President's two-day
proposal announced at the beginning of the year. According
to a political party member of the closed door Council of the
Republic, the President agreed to call elections for
September 5th, with the possibility of a limited extension in
the case of logistical complications in remote locations. If
the President calls elections tomorrow, Angola will take an
important step toward building a lasting democratic
tradition. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In a widely publicized meeting on June 3, CNE
President Caetano de Sousa told President Dos Santos that
conditions for elections in Angola would be ready before
September 5, meeting the timeline established by Dos Santos
in December 2007 (reftel). After the meeting, Caetano de
Sousa told the press he had recommended to the President that
elections be held on only one day, as called for by electoral
law. Caetano added that many lingering questions, including
which parties will be eligible to run and who the candidates
will be, can only be determined after the President convokes
elections.

3. (SBU) Later on June 3, the President presided over a
closed-door session of the Council of the Republic, a
presidential advisory body comprised of key government
leaders, political party leaders from parties with
representation in parliament, and religious and civil society
members, for consultations concerning Angola's preparedness
for "free, just and credible" elections. In a statement made
public after the meeting, the Council declared it had
unanimously agreed that conditions were set for the President
to call for elections under his proposed September timeline.

4. (SBU) After the meeting, Luis Dos Passos, President of the
Democratic Renewal Party and member of the Council of the
Republic, told the Embassy the Council recommended to the
President that he call elections for Friday September 5th.
Dos Passos added that the Council was concerned that some
voters in rural areas might be disenfranchised by last minute
logistical glitches or inclement weather; as a result, the
Council recommended that the National Assembly consider
amending the electoral law to allow voting at these trouble
spots within 8 days of the election date, should such
disruptions occur.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: We expect President Dos Santos will
officially convoke Angola's long-awaited legislative
elections on June 4, meeting the 90-day constitutional
requirement for elections on September 5. In spite of
lingering concerns on the part of political parties, civil
society, and even CNE insiders, that the CNE can pull off
successful elections in early September, it appears that the
President's determination will keep the process on track. END
COMMENT
FERNANDEZ

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