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Cablegate: "The Angolan" Electoral News Bulletin, Vol. Ii

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P 111611Z JUN 08
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4848
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

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TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL AO
SUBJECT: "THE ANGOLAN" ELECTORAL NEWS BULLETIN, VOL. II


1. (U) In This Issue:
-- Reaction to Convocation of Election

-- In-Fighting Threatens PRS and FNLA Campaigns

-- UNITA Concerned by Acts of Political Intolerance

-- EU Plans Electoral Observation Mission

--------------------------------------------- --
Stakeholders React to Convocation of Elections
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) Political parties, media outlets, election network groups,
religious entities and civil society organizations universally
lauded President Dos Santos' June 4th convocation of legislative
elections for September 5, 2008. Independent newspaper A Capital
declared "Alleluia!" on its front cover, and Radio National
conducted a series of interviews in which political party leaders
praised the President for marking that date on which Angolans will
return to the polls for the first time in 16 years.

3. (U) Some parties, however, expressed concern over alterations to
the electoral law proposed by the Council of the Republic and
mentioned in the presidential decree convoking elections. The
electoral law currently allows electoral official to conduct new
elections at specific voting stations within eight days of the
general election if a) voting is disrupted at the station for more
than 3 hours, b) public unrest or disturbance in the area causes
authorities to shut down the voting station to protect public
safety, or c) other factors affect the station's ability to open.
The Council of the Republic and President Dos Santos also advised
the National Assembly to examine expanding the list of possible
triggers for a re-vote as a safeguard against potential logistic
glitches on Election Day.

4. (SBU) UNITA expressed concern that expansion of this clause could
open the door for electoral fraud by allowing the ruling MPLA to
manipulate results through holding new elections at voting stations
in key areas. PRD also expressed concern that last-minute changes
to the electoral law could threaten the credibility of the elections
among key stakeholders, who may interpret changes as a means for
results tampering and fraud. The MPLA, however, dismissed the
criticism, and defended the proposed changes as a way to ensure that
all voters have their day at the polls, should unforeseen
circumstances affect voting in remote areas.

--------------------------------------------
In-Fighting Threatens PRS and FNLA Campaigns
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Internal crises raging within the PRS and FNLA, Angola's
third and fourth-largest political parties, respectively, have
threatened the parties electoral ambitions. The crisis may prevent
the parties from participating in elections due to legal
requirements that bar parties with contested leadership. The
Supreme Court has cautioned both the PRA and FNLA of the possibility
they may be barred from elections unless these internal issues are
resolved.

6. (SBU) The Social Renovation Party (PRS), which dominated the
Lundas and Moxico in the '92 elections and currently holds 6 seats
in parliament, may be barred from running in September's contest due
to contested party leadership. Though the leadership battle dates
back to 2000, resolution has been complicated by the recent
expulsion of a group of senior party leaders who had been working
towards reconciliation. While the factions trade accusations of
corruption, mismanagement and betrayal and party president Eduardo
Kuangana has declined to host a reconciliatory meeting, little is
being done to resolve the pending court case contesting Kuangana's
election as party president. The GRA, through the Anti-Corruption
Court, has frozen PRS bank accounts and ordered auditors to
investigate accusations of financial mismanagement against the party
president.

7. (SBU) The FNLA (Angola National Liberation Front) has similar
troubles, as its two factions continue to refuse reconcile
entreaties, and argue that the other faction cease and desist.
Ngola Kabangu, the appointed heir of the late party founder Holden
Roberto, has admitted that it will be disastrous for his party to
forgo September's elections over a claim to the party leadership by
former FNLA political secretary Lucas Ngonda, but efforts to
reconcile the party by religious leaders such as Catholic Bishop Dom
Kahango and Anglican leader Reverend Ntoni Nzinga have thus far been
unsuccessful.

--------------------------------------------- ---
UNITA Concerned by Acts of Political Intolerance
--------------------------------------------- ---

8. (SBU) UNITA's leadership discussed concern about increasing acts
of political intolerance with embassy officials on May 19. General
Chitombi, the senior UNITA official for ex-combatants, told us the
party has received "many" reports of intolerance, including two
February incidents in Bie province, one in which houses belonging to
UNITA members were set ablaze by MPLA supporters and on attack in
which a female UNITA supporter's hand was chopped off. He also
discussed a March incident in Mungo, Huambo province, in which he
stated UNITA supporters were attacked by MPLA supporters retaliating
to UNITA's defiance to the MPLA's order barring public UNITA rallies
in Mungo. UNITA held a rally on March 1, and the next day groups of
young men went from house to house beating up UNITA leaders in Mungo
and ripping down UNITA flags. Chitombi stated that these incidents
have been brought to the attention of authorities, but no action has
been taken. Angolan Interior Minister Roberto Leal Monteiro has
stated that incidents such as these should be considered acts of
vandalism rather than political intolerance.

9. (SBU) In a prescient statement, Chitombi expressed hope that the
situation would not escalate to the point at which UNITA militants
are forced to take the law into their hands. On May 20, Radio
Ecclesia reported that 15 persons were wounded after UNITA militants
reacted to what they called provocation from MPLA militants in
Sabchimemuna commune, Bie province. UNITA militants accused the
MPLA of stealing their party flag from its mast, and their attempt
to retrieve the flag led to a street fight in which knives and
cutlasses were freely used.

--------------------------------------
EU Plans Electoral Observation Mission
--------------------------------------

10. (SBU) The EU completed its electoral observation exploratory
mission to Angola on May 30. According to EU insiders, the
mission's recommendations call for 120 observers, with the first
long-term observers arriving in-country on July 15th. While in
Angola, mission leaders told the Embassy it plans to deploy long and
short-term observers to all 18 provinces, but were still examining
the security and logistical reality of doing so.
FERNANDEZ

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