African observers report that the first post-war polls in Angola were transparent and credible after a chaotic start on Friday. Polls closed in the Angolan capital of Luanda on Saturday amid opposition claims that the elections were illegitimate.
Voting in Angola's parliamentary election has ended after being extended for a day because of widespread delays and disorganisation at polling stations, the African nation's electoral commission announced on Saturday.
Opposition parties have condemned the two-day poll as illegitimate and demanded it be redone. The dispute threatens to shatter the fragile political stability that has existed in the oil-rich nation since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002.
"All polling stations in the country have closed," Caetano de Sousa, the head of the National Electoral Commission, said in a news conference in Luanda. He added voter turnout was high at all the polling stations that were open on Saturday.
Officials now have 15 days to release the results. The ruling MPLA is widely expected to win the election, which has been keenly watched because of Angola's emergence as a major oil producer.
On Friday, scores of polling stations failed to open on time, preventing many from voting in Luanda province, home to 21 percent of Angola's 8.3 million registered voters.
UNITA, the largest opposition party, challenged the legitimacy of the vote in the province, pledging to fight a legal battle in the Constitutional Court.
"We have no choice but to file the challenge. Conditions did not exist for the election in Luanda (province) yesterday and they still do not exist today," UNITA spokesman Adalberto da Costa told Reuters.
The government has denied any electoral wrongdoing, while admitting that there had been administrative glitches in some areas, particularly around the capital Luanda.
The second day of voting, which was announced late on Friday, was calm and orderly, according to election officials.
Problems with voter registration lists have been cited as the main cause of the delays on Friday. International observers expressed concern about the failure to provide the lists after months of planning for the vote.
"The law was broken because the electoral registration was not distributed," Luisa Morgantini, who is leading a 120-member EU team, told Reuters. "We cannot say the process was done according to the rules."
Angola's government has touted the poll as a showcase for its recovery from the civil war and hopes that it will spur further foreign investment. Angola rivals Nigeria as sub-Saharan Africa's biggest oil producer.
Date created : 2008-09-06