ICYMI: What’s at stake in Angola’s elections — and why it matters to America

This week’s general elections in Angola may be among the most consequential elections on the continent in some time. So, why have they attracted so little attention from the U.S. government?

While the Biden administration understandably has been focused on the volatile electoral contest in Kenya, many of the concerns raised by those elections — the potential for electoral violence, regional instability, foreign authoritarian influence, and economic considerations — are also at stake in Angola.

The upcoming elections are expected to be the most competitive in the country’s post-independence history, which has been dominated by the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Frustrations with incumbent President João Lourenço’s handling of key concerns such as the economic downturn and high levels of corruption have driven support for the newly-formed, UNITA-led opposition coalition, the United Patriotic Front (FPU) — particularly among youth. The MPLA has responded to this development by using its parliamentary supermajority to pass new electoral legislation that will significantly undermine electoral transparency and integrity.

In short, all the ingredients are present for election-related violence and instability no matter which side prevails.

Why should this matter to the United States?…

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Jenai Cox is the regional deputy director for Africa at the International Republican Institute, where Mike Brodo (@MikeBrodo) serves as a program associate for Southern Africa.

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