Luanda, Angola: On 25 August 2017, the Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2017 General Elections in the Republic of Angola, Honourable Dr Augustine P. Mahiga (MP) Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, released the Mission's Preliminary Statement, at a press event held at the Talatona Hotel, Luanda, Angola, regarding the 23 August 2017 General Elections.
In his presentation, the Head of the SEOM Mission noted that this was the third General Election to be held in Angola since the end of the protracted civil war in 2002. The Honourable Minister stressed that these elections are incremental steps that potentially create a conducive environment for political stability, economic growth, and sustainable development. The August 2017 General Elections are also significant in that they represent a change of leadership as the incumbent H.E. Jose Eduardo Dos Santos President of the Republic of Angola, has stepped down for a new President to be chosen from the political party that emerges with the majority of the votes from these elections.
Based on its assessment the SEOM was of the opinion that the pre-election and the election phases of the process were evidently fair, free and transparent. The Honourable Minister acknowledged the positive electoral reforms ushered in by the Angolan Constitution of 2010 which include term limits on the Presidency, establishment of an independent National Electoral Commission and the implementation of the Electoral Code of Conduct. The Head of SEOM noted that all contesting political parties had received equal financing from public funds to assist with their campaigns.
In order to enhance the conduct of future democratic elections, the Head of SEOM urged the electoral stakeholders in the Republic of Angola to improve the electoral framework in line with the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, by for example, assigning voter registration to the National Electoral Commission; enhancing voter and civic education to encourage voters to exercise their right to vote, and availing information on the location and number of polling stations to stakeholders within reasonable periods in advance of the vote.
The event was also attended by, amongst others, His Excellency José Maria Pereira Neves, Former Prime Minister of Cape Verde and Head of the African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) to Angola; His Excellency Miguel Trovoada, Former President and Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe and Head of Mission of the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries Electoral Observation Mission to Angola; and Dr. Stergomena Lawrence-Tax, the Executive Secretary of SADC.
The SEOM also hosted four International Election Observation Missions to release their independent Preliminary Statements at the same venue. These were the African Union Election Observation Mission, Electoral Commission Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Election Observation Mission; and the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries Election Observation Mission (CPLP).
Local electoral stakeholders who attended the event included, Commissioners from the National Electoral Commission of Angola, Heads and representatives of Diplomatic Missions in Luanda, representatives of political parties, faith-based groups, local observers, members of civil society, and the media.
The SEOM report of the 2017 General Elections will be completed and issued within 30 days after the close of the poll. The report will be directed to the Government of the Republic of Angola and the country’s National Electoral Commission.