September 12, (THEWILL) – Hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in Luanda, the Angolan capital, on Saturday to protest the changes to the electoral law they say will undermine the transparency of next year’s general elections.
President Joao Lourenço introduced a bill recently to centralize the counting of votes instead of doing it at each municipality and province.
All opposition MPs abstained or voted against the reform, but they had little influence in a parliament largely dominated by the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
The main opposition party, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), organized a march on Saturday, supported by other political movements and civil society groups, to demand “free and fair elections”.
UNITA suggested a series of measures to prevent fraud, including biometric identification of voters and the involvement of the civil society in the counting of ballots.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the capital, waving UNITA and Angolan flags while chanting “MPLA get out” in Portuguese.
They protested through the city centre holding placards that read: “Demand our rights” and “We want biometric control”. Police armed with batons surrounded the demonstration.
Meanwhile, Lourenço has also sparked controversy for wanting to change another electoral law, which he recently submitted to the National Assembly with suggested amendments.
Elected in 2017 after his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down after a 38-year reign, Joao Lourenço is expected to seek a second term during the 2022 presidential election.
The MPLA has ruled Angola since its independence from Portugal in 1975.