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Angola Extends Legislative Balloting at Some Polls after Logistical Problems Prevent Thousands from Voting

  • Scott Bobb

In Angola, voting has been extended for another day at some polling centers after thousands of voters were prevented from casting their ballots in Friday's parliamentary elections. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Luanda.

Angola's Electoral Commission re-opened several hundred polling places Saturday to allow all voters the opportunity to cast their ballots for the next national assembly.

Many polling centers, especially on the outskirts of Luanda, opened hours late Friday because of a lack of ballot papers, registration lists or other materials.

Most of these had opened by midday, but toward the end of the day some centers ran out of ballot papers causing anger among voters who had waited all day to vote.

The head of the opposition Union for the Total Independence of Angola, Isaias Samakuva, called for a re-run.

Samakuva says this is unacceptable. He says here in the capital, we heard statements that everything was ready but in reality what we are seeing is unacceptable.

The head of the European Observer group, Luisa Morgantini, said the elections were peaceful.

She says the problem in Luanda was that in various locations there was confusion and a lack of organization.

For most Angolans, however, the vote went smoothly. Millions turned out early and in large numbers in the country's first elections in 16 years.

The country's first multiparty elections, in 1992, were canceled following the first round after UNITA withdrew accusing the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA, of fraud.

The Angolan civil war resumed and ended only ten years later after the death of UNITA founder Jonas Savimbi.

The head of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute that supports pro-democracy groups in Angola, Isabel Emerson, attributes some of the problems to the delays in announcing the electoral calendar.

"Reflecting on what happened this time it would be important to invest more in terms of the voter education campaign. I think this time it started late and it [there] wasn't enough information," said Emerson.

She says even some polling officials were not aware of all the electoral procedures.

The government registered more than eight million voters in a massive drive that extended into the remote corners of the country.

More than five thousand candidates from 14 parties competed for the 220 seats in the national assembly. Each party was given air-time on state-owned broadcasting media to present its platform.

But opposition parties and some human rights organizations accused the government of using patronage and its influence over the media to favor the ruling party.

The electoral commission has promised to issue election results by next week.

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