Angola News

Angola to hold first local elections by 2014-minister

LISBON, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Angola plans to hold its first local elections in 2013 or 2014 following a general election next year and a population census, Territorial Administration Minister Baltazar Bornito de Sousa was quoted as saying on Friday.

A general election planned for late 2012 will be only the second in the oil-producing country after the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002, while a new constitution approved last year eliminated the need for presidential ballots.

“Straight after the general election, and taking into account the calendar for the census, we will find a period, probably in 2013 or 2014, to start holding municipal elections,” state news agency Angop cited de Sousa as saying.

The minister was speaking during the celebrations of Angola’s Independence Day, which marks 36 years since the departure of former colonial power Portugal.

Angola’s local powers -- which include the governors of the country’s 18 provinces -- are currently appointed by the national president.

Bornito de Sousa said that the introduction of elected local authorities will be an important part of the country’s effort to strenghten democratic rule and citizen participation.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ MPLA party won the civil against UNITA and then crushed the opposition in a general election in 2008, obtaining 82 percent of the votes.

Dos Santos’ government has long been criticised for mismanaging oil revenues, avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight corruption and poverty in a country in which an estimated two-thirds of its 16.5 million people live on less than $2 per day.

De Sousa said until the local elections are held, the government plans to reorganise the municipal and provincial power structures, creating councils to oversee their performance.

The oversight councils will be composed of representatives from political parties and civil society, Angop quoted the minister as saying.

De Sousa said the population census to be held in 2013 will be the first in over four decades. (Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas)