Angola: A Pre-Election Assessment

Publication Date: 
29 Feb 1992

Publication Type:



The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) was invited by Angola's National Electoral Council to organize an international delegation of election observers for Angola's September 29-30, 1992 legislative and presidential elections. The 39 members of the mission were selected to represent a cross-section of international Angola-watchers and elections specialists. The observation mission was under the leadership of Professor C.S. Whitaker, Director of the Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies at the University of Southern California.


The delegation assembled in Luanda, Angola over September 23-24 for three days of national and provincial briefings, deploying into the provinces on September 27. The terms of reference of the delegation were focused on the events immediately before, during, and immediately following the two days of elections. Its objective was to monitor the degree to which activities taking place during this period corresponded with the Angolan electoral code. Delegation members departed Luanda between October 3rd and 8th. IFES staff maintained a presence in Luanda through the official announcement of the election results on the morning of October 17. The IFES office in Luanda remained open, under the direction of the project manager, through the fourth week of October.


The mission was organized by IFES staff in Washington and Luanda. The IFES project manager responsible for the implementation of IFES' technical assistance effort in Angola was joined by two consultants, one responsible for finalizing civic education activities initiated by the project manager and the second responsible for the on-the-ground organization and overall coordination of the observation mission. IFES/Washington Africa program staff were on hand in Luanda before, during, and after the observation activities. For the duration of the mission, IFES permanent and temporary staff in Washington provided logistical and technical back-up.


The observers visited over 400 of Angola's 5,579 polling stations. These polling places were located in the eight most populous and accessible of Angola's eighteen provinces: Bengo, Benguela, Bi~, Kuanza Norte, Kuanza Sui, Huambo, Huna, and Luanda. These eight provinces are home to 69% of Angola's registered voters and 67% of Angola's estimated population of 8,989,800.


Polls where potentially serious irregularities were noted received follow-up visits. The IFES teams' observations repeatedly called attention to the open cooperation between the representatives of the various political party poll watchers assigned to the polls as well as between the poll workers, to implement on-site improvisations and overcome operational problems.


The elections were conducted in a peaceful and orderly fashion. Bearing in mind the limits of their terms of reference, and also the limited duration of the observation mission, the consensus of the IFES international delegation of election observers was that the Angolan elections of September 29-30, 1992 constituted a successful and effective application of the mechanism of elective choice of political representatives.


Six months after the elections, each passing day without a negotiated cease-fire diminishes the probability of a second round of elections. The recommendations put forth by the IFES delegation for Angola's future elections are applicable only when conditions are fulfilled that do not exist in Angola at present, including:


1) That a solution has been found for the Angolan conflict, resulting in the establishment of a cease-fire; 2) That the cease-fire is holding;

3) That the infrastructure for the demobilization of the armed forces has been established and the demobilization is underway;

4) That there is agreement between political parties on an administrative body responsible for organizing and facilitating the elections;


The IFES group was one of several international delegations, totaling approximately 800 individuals, present in Angola for the elections. The United Nations was responsible for the deployment of 400 of these observers and for the conduct of a parallel vote tabulation. Additional delegations included those of Ponugai, Belgium, France, Germany, Programme Angola-Canada, and the European Parliamentarians for Southern Africa (AWEPAA). Angola's predominant political parties, Movimellfo Popular de Libenarao de Angola, and the Uniao Nacional para a IndependRncia Total de Angola, sponsored groups of international observers.


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