Angolan court rejects election results complaint, opposition calls for protests

LISBON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Angola's Constitutional Court made a final ruling on Thursday to dismiss a complaint filed by the runner-up in the Aug. 24 election seeking to annul the results that gave victory to the ruling MPLA.

After the country's most closely fought election, the electoral commission declared last week the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) the winner, prolonging its nearly five decades of uninterrupted rule and handing President Joao Lourenco a second term.

Just over 51% of voters had supported the ex-Marxist MPLA, it said. The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), its longtime opponent and former civil war enemy, took about 44%, its best result on record, according to the commission. read more

UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior rejected the results, citing discrepancies between the commission's count and the party's own tally. He accused the electoral commission, which mostly controlled by the MPLA, of fraud.

The commission has repeatedly said the process was fair and transparent.

According to UNITA's parallel count, it got 49.5% of the vote and the MPLA 48.2%. A parallel count by civic movement Mudei, which monitored the process, also showed UNITA slightly ahead.

The court, which is led by a former member of the MPLA, made an initial ruling on Monday against a complaint filed by UNITA but Thursday's decision is final and cannot be appealed, paving the way for Lourenco to be sworn in next week. read more

Court chief Laurinda Cardoso told reporters that evidence was analysed and, based on that, they decided to reject the case.

UNITA and other opposition parties called for peaceful demonstrations to protest against what they have described as election "irregularities".

Among other issues, there were only 1,300 observers to cover a country twice the size of France, around 2.7 million deceased people were included in the electoral roll, and the MPLA was given more air time than others. read more

People took to social media to urge the electoral commission to release its result sheets so they can be compared with parallel counts.

"We demand electoral truth," a young woman said in a video shared by Mudei on Twitter. "No to fraud!"

Angola has placed its armed forces in "high combat readiness" until Sept. 20 to avoid incidents that might "disturb public order", it said.

Analysts fear the court decision could ignite mass street protests among a poor and frustrated youth who voted for UNITA. read more

Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Grant McCool

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Thomson Reuters

Portugal-based multimedia correspondent reporting on politics, economics, the environment and daily news. Previous experience in local journalism in the UK., co-founded a project telling the stories of Portuguese-speakers living in London, and edited a youth-led news site.