* Defeated opposition party says voters victims of "fraud"
* Results show Dos Santos' MPLA won 72 pct of votes
* Second-placed UNITA says will resort to courts
By Shrikesh Laxmidas
LUANDA, Sept 11 Angola's main opposition party
UNITA on Tuesday challenged the results of a national election
last month in which it finished a distant second behind the
ruling MPLA party, calling the vote unfair and a "fraud."
UNITA's challenge, filed with the national elections
commission (CNE), had been widely expected after the Aug. 31
vote, which won broad approval from electoral observer teams
from the African Union, the Southern African Development
Community, and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking States.
Full provisional results announced by the CNE on Friday
showed President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos' governing MPLA party
winning with 72 percent of the votes, far ahead of former rebel
group UNITA with nearly 19 percent.
The win gave Dos Santos a new five-year term to extend his
nearly 33 years at the helm of Africa's No. 2 oil producer, but
swelling discontent over the unequal distribution of oil wealth
could still strain the MPLA's grip on power.
Before the vote, opponents of Dos Santos such as UNITA
leader Isaias Samakuva and civil society activists criticised
the preparations as one-sided and plagued with irregularities.
They accused the MPLA of using the CNE to rig the election, a
charge denied by electoral officials and the ruling party.
"The election was an unequal, unfair and disloyal
competition in which the Angolan people were the main victims of
a fraud," UNITA said in a statement.
Third-placed CASA-CE, a party created four months ago by
UNITA dissident Abel Chivukuvuku and which obtained 6 percent of
the votes, has also filed allegations about irregularities.
No one at the national elections commission or the MPLA was
immediately available for comment.
Voting on Aug. 31 took place peacefully across the country,
and none of the opposition parties have so far announced any
street protests to contest the result.
Initial results a day after the vote showing the MPLA headed
for a landslide win were greeted with apathy in the seaside
capital Luanda, indicating the result was widely expected.
Analysts said that despite widespread unhappiness over
wealth inequalities, the MPLA had projected itself as the best
guarantee of stability after the end of a 27-year civil war a
decade ago, and this could undermine any opposition efforts to
promote protests against the election result.
"There is that war fatigue, definitely, in the provinces,"
Mark Shroeder, Director of Sub-Saharan Africa Analysis at
Strafor Global Intelligence, told Reuters.
The MPLA won the war against UNITA and then crushed its
rival in a 2008 election by obtaining 82 percent of the votes.
UNITA challenged the 2008 results - in which it obtained 10
percent of the votes - but its appeals were rejected then by the
CNE and the courts.
UNITA said last month's vote process broke the law in
several aspects, including "manipulation" of the electoral roll
that prevented over a third of voters from casting their
The party repeated earlier complaints that over 40 percent
of its delegates were denied access to polling stations, and
said that vote-counting had been conducted illegally, although
it did not provide further details.
"The violations of the law are so serious that after
challenging the acts by the CNE, UNITA will pursue all these
crimes in the justice system," it added.
Under electoral law, parties must first address complaints
to the CNE but may appeal to the Constitutional Court, the
highest legal body, if the elections commission rejects them.
UNITA's Samakuva has already said he does not consider the
country's judicial system to be independent.
The party said it will take the 36 seats it won in the
220-seat parliament while its challenge is analysed.
The United States, a major buyer of Angolan oil along with
China and the European Union, last week congratulated Angola for
"a peaceful and well-managed election."
But it acknowledged "important concerns" raised by
opposition parties over unequal access to the media, problems
with voter rolls, and lack of timely accreditation of election
Neither the EU nor the United States sent formal election
observer missions to witness the Aug. 31 vote.
Analysts said Western governments appeared to have been
reluctant to look too closely at the Angolan elections, mindful
that any criticism could damage their strategic oil supply
relationships with the major African producer.