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Angola election results delayed

Published Oct. 12, 2005

Electoral officials on Tuesday delayed announcing the result of Angolan's first free election after the former U.S.-backed rebel group UNITA declared the vote unfair and prompted fears of a renewed civil war.

With 90 percent of polling stations reporting, the National Electoral Council said it was suspending the count to allow for a double-check of the vote.

Trailing in partial returns, Jonas Savimbi's UNITA _ the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola _ issued a near-ultimatum Monday, calling for the vote count to be halted and demanding the elections be reviewed or annuled. UNITA claimed the elections were "stained by frauds and violations."

Rebel generals said they were withdrawing their troops from Angola's fledgling united army, stirring concern they would smash the fragile truce.

The 16-year civil war that ended in a May 1991 truce killed at least 350,000 people in this former Portuguese colony in southern Africa.

When the count was stopped, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, a Marxist-turned-reformist, led with 50.8 percent to 39.4 for Savimbi. The remaining votes were shared among other candidates.

Dos Santos will be forced to a runoff against Savimbi if his vote drops below 50 percent.

Caetano de Sousa, president of the Electoral Council, said definitive election results will be announced Thursday. The United Nations will then issue a declaration on the fairness of the vote based on reports from 800 international observers.

Most observers have said the vote held Sept. 29-30 was free and fair.