Angola’s Supreme Court has blocked the appointment of the country’s election commission chief, who is viewed by opposition parties and former rebel groups as a close ally of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Angola is the second biggest oil producer in Africa, and is set to hold elections in late August or early September – the third national polls since it secured independence from Portugal in 1975, and the second since a bloody 27-year civil war ended in 2002.
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According to the BBC, opposition parties, including former rebel group UNITA, had challenged the appointment of Susana Ingles, a leading member of the OMA women’s group which is viewed as close to dos Santos’ MPLA, on the grounds that she would not be impartial.
Ingles is also a lawyer, and the head of the election body is required to be a judge. The MPLA, which gained 82 percent of the vote in Angola’s last elections in 2008, said it would “scrupulously respect the decision.”
UNITA had planned to stage nationwide demonstrations on Saturday to protest against Ingles’ appointment and call for free and fair elections, Reuters reports. Dos Santos had maintained that her appointment had been impartial and accused opposition groups of causing unnecessary instability.
In power for 32 years, Dos Santos is Africa’s second longest-serving ruler after Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
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