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Cablegate: Mpla, Unita Opt for Fresh Faces in Selecting

VZCZCXRO5443
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0535/01 1940332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120332Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4883
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000535

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM AO
SUBJECT: MPLA, UNITA OPT FOR FRESH FACES IN SELECTING
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES

REF: LUANDA 0471

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Based on the preponderance of new faces on
candidate lists submitted by the ruling MPLA and main
opposition party UNITA, National Assembly's membership will
change radically following the September 5 legislative
election. In addition, the political field narrowed
dramatically when only 10 coalitions and 24 of the 98 legal
political parties submitted candidate lists for
Constitutional Court review by the July 7 deadline. The
Court will further winnow the number of coalition/parties as
it assesses the documents submitted by these entities. END
SUMMARY

Fresh Faces on MPLA, UNITA Parliamentary Benches
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) The candidate lists presented by the MPLA and UNITA
make clear that the Assembly that emerges from the September
5 elections will be mostly new faces. The MPLA's list of 355
candidates includes only 39 members of the current National
Assembly. This doesn,t signify a lack of star power -
President dos Santos leads a list that includes the majority
of the GRA's MPLA-based ministers and governors, several
famous artists and athletes, and one of his daughters. Most
ministers and governors (and naturally dos Santos himself)
are not expected to take seats in parliament; rather, their
inclusion brings name recognition and underlines the MPLA's
core message of "stick with the team that brought you peace,
stability and post-war reconstruction." Candidates were
selected in closed-door sessions of the party's senior
leaders, but insiders state that Dos Santos had the final say
and tweaked the list until the last minute.

3. (U) UNITA's candidate list is also full of new faces; only
20 percent of current deputies remain. As expected, the
"dirty 16" of UNITA deputies who split from the party yet
remained in parliament are off the list; added are
representatives from civil society, journalists and other
independent candidates brought in to underscore UNITA's
campaign strategy of folding diverse opposition elements
under the UNITA umbrella rather than working out coalitions
that allow other parties to keep their identity. In
deliberate contrast to the closed-door MPLA selection
process, the majority of UNITA's candidates were chosen by
votes from attendees at party conferences held in each of the
18 provinces.

D-Day for FNLA and PADEPA, Close Call for PRS
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (U) Discarding all attempts at mediation or
reconciliation, both wings of the FNLA (currently the fourth
largest party in parliament), submitted candidate lists in
the names of their respective party presidents. Yet to be
seen is whether the Court will rule one or both factions
ineligible. While the FNLA's fissure was well known in
advance of elections (reftel), Democratic Support and
Progress Party (PADEPA) leaders received a shock when an
expelled party member submitted an alternate list of
candidates mere hours before the deadline. As there is no
pending legal action challenging the party's elected leaders,
PADEPA President Carlos Leitao is hopeful the Court will
discard the alternate list.

5. (U) The leadership battles at PRS, however, appeared to be
settled when the faction headed by Antonio Muachicungo was
unable to garner enough signatures to present a candidate
list. In the waning hours before the deadline Muachicungo
announced a coalition with the Democratic Party for Social
Progress. PRS President Eduardo Kuangana is hopeful that
this defection will allow the Court to settle the pending
legal action in which Muachicungo challenged Kuangana's
election as party president.

Cutting the Fat
---------------

6. (U) In a dramatic narrowing of the political field of 98
legal political parties, only 24 political parties and 10
coalitions of small parties presented lists of candidates to
the Constitutional Court by the July 7th deadline. The
winnowing is not yet complete; the court must now scrutinize
the supporting documentation submitted with each party's list
to determine which parties and coalitions fulfilled the legal
requirements to participate in September's race, namely the
gathering of a minimum of 14,000 legal signatures for each
party. The Court plans to complete its evaluation by July
17; parties that do not make the grade will then have two
days to provide additional documentation or be cut from the
final list of parties eligible to compete in the elections.

LUANDA 00000535 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) COMMENT: 98 political parties are too many for the
Angolan political landscape, and the ongoing election process
is providing a much-needed separation of the wheat from the
chaff. We anticipate at most 15 parties - and perhaps as few
as 8 - and three coalitions will remain standing after the
Court rules on who has met the legal requirements to run.
Regardless, MPLA and UNITA remain the big kids on the block,
and their bringing new blood into the National Assembly is
the first step towards revitalizing a historically lackluster
institution. END COMMENT
MOZENA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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