Johannesburg — Preparations for Angola’s second peacetime polls scheduled for August are being overshadowed by allegations of electoral fraud, state media bias and growing concerns about a violent crackdown on activists and protestors.

Human Rights Watch has criticised the government for its heavy-handed response to street demonstrations by former soldiers demanding unpaid military pensions, and the lobby group said that it was worried about a series of violent attacks on youth groups known for their criticism of the government.

“The recent spate of serious abuses against protesters is an alarming sign that Angola’s government will not tolerate peaceful dissent,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director.

“The government should stop trying to silence these protests and focus on improving the election environment,” she added.

Meanwhile opposition groups are unhappy about how the elections, which are scheduled for Aug. 31, are being organised. Several parties who were on Friday Jul. 6 barred from taking part altogether – supposedly due to paperwork irregularities – are crying foul.

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Of the 27 parties and coalitions who applied to run in the election, only nine have been formally approved by the Constitutional Court. Read more…