Angolan Activists Create a Platform To Monitor Presidential Elections
11 August 2017
Election material of the ruling MPLA party and its candidate João Lourenço, used with permission (Jiku).
Angola is currently in the middle of campaigning for the upcoming elections on August 23, 2017. This will be the first time since independence that the current president, José Eduardo dos Santos, will not be a candidate.
The electoral list was approved by the central committee of the ruling party, Movimento Popular pela Libertação de Angola (MPLA), on February 4 and is led by the former defence minister, General João Lourenço, who will become the country’s president if MPLA wins the elections.
Among the opposition, two well-known parties are competing — the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) and the alliance Convergência Ampla de Salvação de Angola (CASA-CE). In terms of voters, 9.4 million Angolans will be called to the ballot box.
A great deal of distrust exists regarding the transparency of these elections. For example, the late invitation to European Union (EU) observers and the non-observance of measures requested by the EU are the main reasons they refuse to monitor the elections. Eurodeputy Ana Gomes accused Angolan authorities of being uninterested in EU monitoring:
The truth is that the Angolan authorities did not want to provide the conditions for this mission to go to Angola, because otherwise they would have sent the invitation long ago. So, if the Angolan government chose to send the invitation so late, including after a mission of electoral experts that the EU sent to Angola and not even the invitation met the basic conditions, which it knows perfectly well that they are required by the EU because they are the standards for any country where the EU goes to monitor, then my conclusion is that, in fact, there was no political will of the Angolan authorities to invite the EU to observe the elections.
Among civil society organizations, the association Handeka has put forward the project Jiku, an initiative which envisages that citizens, beyond simply voting, assume the role of election monitors on election day. Jiku aims to gather information on one platform — www.jikuangola.org — giving people a place to redirect all their complaints and demands.
The website explains that “Jiku” is a Kikongo word meaning “a sitting for a wise discussion of problems, normally around the campfire”, and is simultaneously the first part of the word “Jikulumessu”, meaning “open the eye”.
Jiku involves several well-known Angolan figures, such as the ex-prime minister Marcolino Moco, and Luaty Beirão and Mbanza Hamza of the 15+2 group of human rights activists, who were controversially detained for months on security charges, before later being released.