Elections in Angola Peaceful Despite “a few glitches”: Catholic Entity Official

Fr. Celestino Epalanga, executive secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Angola and São Tomé. Credit: Vatican Media

The Executive Secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST) has said that Angola's fifth general elections conducted on Wednesday, August 24 went on peacefully despite “a few glitches”.

General elections in the Southern African nation are conducted within the framework of a multi-party democracy and a presidential system. While the electorate directly vote for members of the National Assembly, the leader of the largest political party or coalition in the National Assembly automatically becomes President.

Each of the participating political parties nominates a presidential candidate as top of its list. The presidential candidate’s name is clearly identified on the ballot paper. Angola’s incumbent president, João Lourenço, is eligible for one more term.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Celestino Epalanga who was one of the observers in the polls said he noted a “relatively low” voter turnout.

“In almost every polling station, voters behaved quite well and in an orderly manner. There were a few glitches in a couple of polling stations that didn’t open at exactly 7 a.m., which angered some voters, but above all, it was peaceful; there were no acts of violence”, Fr. Epalanga said during the Thursday, August 25 interview. 


He added in reference to the voter turnout in Angola’s capital, “By 12 midday, in some of the polling stations in and around Luanda, only 100 plus voters out of about 600 registered voters on an electoral list” had cast their votes.

Angola's ruling party, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which has been in power for nearly five decades, is reportedly leading the polls with a 52% majority, while their main competitor, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) is trailing with 42% of the valid votes.   

In the August 25 interview, Fr. Epalanga who was one of the 36 CEAST observers said he noted the challenge of transparency in the tallying centers, saying, “In some polling stations electoral commissioners did not display the results for observers.” 

The member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits – SJ) added, “CEAST Executive Secretary - Fr. Hilário Correia - was denied access to a copy of the results … because the ruling party at that specific polling station had lost.”

According to the CCJP official, Angola’s ruling party, “MPLA, lost in almost every polling station in Luanda, and we have the results from each of the polling stations where CEAST observers were present.”

More in Africa

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, South Africa, dozens of Angolans cast their vote at the Angolan Consulate in Bruma. For the first time, Angolans residing in South Africa were given permission to vote in one of the three polling stations in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. 

In an interview with ACI Africa, Jorge Diaz who migrated to South Africa 20 years ago said Angolans in the diaspora had wanted to vote for years. 

“We wanted to participate with the country as well, in choosing the next leader,” Mr. Diaz said during the Wednesday, August 24 interview, and added that voting was “a joyful moment… a good experience.”

In another interview with ACI Africa CEAST Executive Secretary, Fr. Hilário Correia said, “The Catholic Bishops have called on the people of God to continue to embrace fraternity, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence during this period.”

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.