Following reports of failed talks between the two main parties’ mediators on Friday evening, UNITA has asked for a recount in the presence of impartial foreign observers.
Why this matters
The sixth multi-party election in Angola since independence was the most tightly fought to date. However, the National Electoral Commission’s (CNE) preliminary results, which gave the ruling MPLA 51% and hence victory, have been challenged by UNITA, the main opposition group.
UNITA claims that its data shows it received more votes than the CNE declared and that the MPLA, which has ruled Angola for nearly 50 years, should have received fewer seats. At one point, UNITA proposed its own parallel count (based on copies of the final vote counts provided to it).
As a result of these developments, as well as an extraordinary social media campaign that appeared meant to instigate violence, UNITA supporters took to the streets of many Angolan cities overnight. Youth in towns like Cabinda were yelling slogans of support for UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Jnior. Despite calls for calm, the government replied with a show of force, swarming the streets with riot police (called as ‘ninjas’ by the Rapid Intervention Police, PIR).