Angola reaches deal on election law

2011-12-10 10:00

Lisbon - Angola's political parties reached a deal on a new electoral law on Friday, ending months of negotiations over who will organise a general election next year in Africa's second largest oil producer, state news agency Angop reported.

Angop said all 172 lawmakers present in parliament had voted for the bill that allocates powers for organising the election, the second in Angola since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002.

The main opposition party Unita had accused the ruling MPLA party of trying to control the election by stripping the National Elections Committee of power and eroding its independence.

Unita leader Isaias Samakuva accused President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' MPLA in August of rigging elections in 1992 and 2008 and of planning to do the same next year.

Parliament speaker Paulo Kassoma was quoted by Angop after Friday's vote as saying the consensus would "end the spreading of accusations of electoral fraud which have tried to contaminate the Angolan political sphere".

He added that the agreement would ensure bills on voter registration and ballot box supervision, due to be debated next month, would be easier to approve.

The news agency said the committee would be made up of 17 members and headed by a judge, with the others appointed by the political parties in proportion to their seats in parliament.

"The exercise was done during these 14 days, based on an open dialogue which allowed us to reach this consensus," Angop quoted Unita bench leader Silvestre Samy as saying.

His party's lawmakers walked out of a plenary session on the matter in August, and were then joined by members from two smaller parties when they abandoned another debate in protest last month.

Dos Santos' MPLA, which won the civil war against Unita and obtained 82% of the vote in an election three years ago, is widely expected to win the 2012 poll.

A new constitution passed in 2010 eliminated the need for presidential elections, with the leader of the winning party in a general election appointed president for four years.