To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent general elections in Angola.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In a Statement on 12 September, following the Angolan elections of 31 August, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness, (Mr Simmonds) said:
“I welcome the re-election of President dos Santos and congratulate the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) on its success in the third election in the Republic of Angola. I commend the Angolan people, political parties and civil society on the peaceful environment in which the elections were held.
Despite concerns about the electoral process, such as unequal access to the media, problems with voter rolls, and lack of timely accreditation for election observers, the Angolan authorities’ commitment to take action to address such concerns is commendable. This is an important step toward further strengthening Angola’s democratic institutions and will help to build confidence for future elections.
I look forward to continuing to strengthen our bilateral relationship with the Angolan Government, and to further engagement with the Angolan people”.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to promote democracy in Angola.
Baroness Warsi: The UK firmly believes that democracy is the system of government that provides the best route to building accountable and responsive states which are best able to safeguard human rights and promote development. Our embassy officials in Luanda regularly engage with the Angolan Government on democratic and human rights issues, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has funded a range of projects which have democracy at their heart including:
a project run with Angola’s Secretary of State for Human Rights to promote human rights and democracy among the Angolan population; anda project with a coalition of national election observers to provide funding to enable them to observe and report on the 2012 general election.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the independence of the Angolan Electoral Commission.
Baroness Warsi: The Angolan law on the organisation and functioning of the National Election Commission and the Constitution of February 2010 make clear that the National Election Commission must be an independent body. The commission is made up of 17 members including its chair, who must be a judge, and 16 others designated by the National Assembly. Membership is broad: the commission’s central decision-making body is its plenary, in which one representative from each political party and coalition with at least one parliamentary seat and up to five representatives from political parties and coalitions without a parliamentary seat can participate.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what reports they have received about recent civic unrest in Angola.
Baroness Warsi: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through our embassy in Luanda, carefully monitors the security situation across Angola. Since March 2011, there have been a number of demonstrations and political rallies in Angola, including during August (the month of the recent general election). Some of these gatherings have resulted in outbreaks of violence.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of Angola’s candidacy for graduation from the group of less developed countries.
Baroness Warsi: Since the end of civil war in 2002, Angola has made remarkable economic progress, becoming Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy. It is important the newly elected Government of Angola make sure that the economic boom benefits as many citizens as possible. I particularly welcome President dos Santos’s pre-election pledge to work on reducing the disparity between rich and poor.
Angola’s aspiration to graduate from the group of less developed countries (LDC) is welcome. If Angola meets the UN requirements and thus graduates, this will help achieve the UN goal set in May 2011 of at least half the current LDC countries graduating within a decade.