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Angola agrees to small EU election team

Supporters of the Angolan Opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) cheer during the first General Elections campaign rally on July 22, 2017 in Luanda. Angola’s political parties start campaigning for August 23 elections. / AFP PHOTO / AMPE ROGERIO

Angola has agreed to allow just four experts from the European Union to monitor its elections later this month, officials said Monday, after a dispute over access to polling stations and other conditions.

Two weeks ago, the Angolan government rejected any EU observer mission, but it agreed to the small number of monitors after extended talks.

“The EU will only send a small mission of experts to mark its presence in Angola during the electoral process,” a European diplomatic source told AFP.

“We cannot really speak of observers, only experts. A real mission of observers is 200 people.”

Joaquim do Espirito Santo, a senior foreign ministry official, confirmed the new agreement for a team of four.

“We want the EU to show its presence as an important partner, who accompanies us on the path of development and democratisation,” he said.

“But it cannot have requirements that are contrary to our own electoral law.”

President Eduardo Jose Dos Santos who has ruled Angola since 1979 will not contest the August 23 election, marking a historic change in the oil-rich country.

The MPLA party has named Jose Lourenco, currently defence minister, as its candidate and he is likely to take power in the election.

The MPLA has held power since independence from Portugal in 1975, and authorities routinely suppress opposition activity.

UNITA and other opposition parties have charged that elections will not be free or fair.

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