JOHANNESBURG, 17 June (IRIN) - News that President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether sections of a new election law are unconstitutional has raised concern that Angola's first general election since 1992 could be delayed.
The opposition UNITA party told IRIN that the latest hiccup might bring postponement of the promised 2006 elections.
According to the official Angop news agency, Dos Santos promulgated most of the laws in the so-called 'electoral package', but the crucial "Electoral Law has not been promulgated" because there were doubts over whether certain sections complied with the country's constitution.
"The president of the republic referred the said draft to the Supreme Court, which, acting as a constitutional court, will check its constitutionality," Angop reported.
UNITA secretary for public administration Alcides Sakala told IRIN that it would be "a bit difficult to hold elections in 2006", given the latest hurdle.
"They [the government] are saying some articles [of the Electoral Law] are unconstitutional. We would like the process speeded up, as these delays - whether deliberate or not - are the responsibility of Dos Santos," he noted.
Sakala said the UNITA leadership would meet soon to discuss the latest developments and formulate the party's response. He observed that Dos Santos had not spelled out exactly what the concerns were regarding the Electoral Law, but hoped this would be done soon.
"Elections are vital to normalising Angola - we fought the war for 30 years and three years after the end [of the war] we believe the time is right to hold these elections, so we can get back to normality," Sakala commented.
Apart from speeding up development, the elections would also serve as a tool for holding officials accountable.
"Whoever is going to be elected will know they have four years in parliament, and they will have to be responsible about running the business of the country ... or they will not be re-elected," Sakala pointed out.
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