Monday, December 31, 2007

Legislative elections, finally?

As the NYT reports, the government has finally scheduled legislative elections for September of 2008. This is a huge deal here. The last elections in Angola were in 1992. When the opposition party/rebels UNITA lost, they plunged the country back into war, a period that ended up being the most devestating.

People here are wary of elections. They associate elections with war and I've heard some people say they'd just rather not have elections. A few months ago, while in the interior, I spoke with some internally displaced people who were from the Huambo area. I asked why they hadn't returned to Huambo after the war ended, and the guy said, "Well, they keep saying they're going to have elections. Why should I go back, because the war will start again with elections?"

There's no real danger for the war to start again, from what I understand. There might be minor conflicts in UNITA strongholds, but the ruling party (MPLA) will likely sweep the elections. The real, interesting election will be the preseidential one in 2009.

If they actually have elections, that it. The government has been promising free and fair elections every year since the war ended. My boss has a calendar from 2004 still that says, "2204: The Year of Elections!"

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