- Angola's ability to hold free and fair vote in the September legislative poll has been threatened by "intimidation of opposition and meddling in the country's electoral commission," the New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
The September 5 poll will be the first national vote in 16 years. Angola, that has been recovering from years of a civil war, wants the poll to be an example for the continent, especially on the heels of disputed polls in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
However, in a report, Human Rights Watch Africa Director, Georgette Gagnon said, "the conditions for free and fair elections start long before election day."
"Less than a month before elections, it is clear Angolans aren't able to campaign free from intimidation or pressure. And unless things change now, Angolans won't be able to cast their votes freely."
Ten parties, including four coalitions have been on the campaign roll since 5 August. Over 5,000 candidates will battle it out for the 220 parliamentary seats.
The rights body, whose report came after it had conducted mission to the capital Luanda and four provinces, blamed the Angola government for "failing to fully ensure the right to free elections, and other rights critical to a fair poll, including the freedoms of expression and of assembly".
"Major areas of concern include the government's obligations to safeguard freedom of assembly and expression and access to the media by all stakeholders, and to establish an impartial national electoral body," it said.
"The government has also failed to provide adequate security to political parties participating in elections and to ensure political tolerance and full participation of citizens."
Angolan police on Monday detained 13 people campaigning for the main UNITA opposition party outside Luanda. They were accused of holding a rally without the authorities.
The legislative vote will be followed by a presidential election next year.
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