Angola extends work on new constitution until 2010

Angola’s parliament has allowed the group in charge of drafting a new constitution to extend work on the document until 2010, effectively delaying the country’s first post-war presidential elections another year.
The new charter, a precondition for the 2009 presidential poll to take place, was due in September but the Constitutional Commission said it would now only carry out a public consultation of the document in the first two months of 2010.
The ruling MPLA, which dominates the commission, said the presidential vote was only expected to take place after the constitution was approved, but stopped short of announcing a delay in the vote, Reuters reports.
“That is up to the president to announce,” Bornito de Sousa, a member of the MPLA and Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, told parliament late yesterday.
The main opposition UNITA party, which has accused the MPLA of delaying the vote to extend the three-decade rule of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos another year, said it was now clear that the poll had been delayed.
“You have killed the elephant,” said Manuel Saviemba, a UNITA member, referring to the end of the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election date.
The country held its first legislative election for 16 years in September last year and a presidential vote had been planned for this year. The presidential poll will be the first since the end of Angola’s 27-year civil war in 2002.
Dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest serving rulers, is widely expected to win the race.

Pic: Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos