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EU election observers head to Angola

world Updated: Aug 07, 2008 20:40 IST

The European Union said on Thursday the first group of observers due to monitor next month's general elections in Angola would arrive on Saturday.

"Forty long-term observers will arrive on August 9 and be deployed countrywide in two teams," said the head of the EU observer mission, Luisa Morgantini. Another 50 observers would join the team later, she said.

Speaking at a press conference, Morgantini said that the number of observers being deployed "shows the importance" the European Union attaches to the elections due on September 5.

She said the observers will be bound by a code of conduct that prevents them from commenting on the electoral process until it is over. They will then issue a "detailed statement."

"If we observe that the elections not be perfect or not democratic, we will say that," Morgantini said.

The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) faces off against its rival the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in the first ballot in 16 years.

A total of 5,198 candidates will contest 220 parliamentary seats, with more than eight million Angolans registered to vote.

Morgantini praised the steps taken so far.

"From what we have seen, heard from political parties, read in the newspaper, we know that the steps towards democratic and peaceful elections are being made," she said.