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Electoral registration of angolans residing in Portugal takes place between January and March

The minister of Territory Administration, Marcy Lopes, informed this Monday the civil society of the country residing in Lisbon that the electoral registration of angolans living abroad will take place between January and March of next year.

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"Registration abroad starts in January 2022 and ends on March 31, 2022. It is estimated that there are approximately 400 to 450,000 angolan voters residing outside the country and it is this electoral population that is intended to be registered", informed the minister, at an event this Monday night at the Consulate General of Angola in Lisbon, in which he heard and spoke with representatives of various angolan civil organizations established in the portuguese capital.

The government official acknowledged that the Angolan Constitution "has not approved a constituency for the diaspora" and, therefore, the votes of angolans residing abroad "fall into the national circle", contested one of those present who pointed out the "error" - "It is not wrong, it's a perspective," he said - but underlined the "purpose" of "ensure that everyone participates, that everyone is part of the process, even if we have different opinions and visions."

"The most important thing on our part – Ministry of Territory Administration (MAT) – is to ensure that every angolan citizen who has the necessary documentation to be registered as a voter is" effectively, said Marcy Lopes.

"All registered people, if they so wish, will be able to exercise their right to vote, which, until the last election, did not happen", he guaranteed.

The minister explained that the electoral registration process outside Angola "will be unofficial". Angolan citizens residing abroad will be able to update their electoral registration whenever they have a valid identity card (BI), but those who do not have one can already benefit from better conditions in the Angolan diplomatic missions in Portugal to update it.

"To ensure that this process is as broad as possible, the Ministry of Justice is taking steps so that everyone outside the country who does not have ID can handle their ID," he said.

"The Ministry of Justice is creating conditions for the universalization of BI abroad. We were told that there are 12 fixed posts, they will be increased to 18 and, in addition, the mobile brigades, at the moment, have already been doing the work of collecting data from Angolan citizens for processing and issuing the ID", informed Marcy Lopes.

From the MAT's perspective, however, the relevant information is the voter's place of residence so that, at the end of the process, they are given "a ticket" with the validation of their electoral capacity and the place where they can exercise this right.

"Whoever has the BI comes to the diplomatic consular mission to tell the services where he resides, if in Lisbon, Porto, etc., and will vote where he resides", underlined the minister.

After this registration, citizens abroad will only have to wait for the electoral rolls to be updated by the National Electoral Commission (CNE), he said.

The process of new electoral registration is already underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Republic of Congo, where the largest angolan diasporas are found, since 2020. "This process has already started last year, that of issuing the ID card via the voter card," said the governor.

"As a new process, we are learning, walking, taking steps, we want to fine-tune the processes so that we don't make so many mistakes, but if we do, we hope that they don't embarrass voters to the point of making it impossible for them to exercise their right to vote," declared the minister.

Mary Lopes indicated that her services are starting the verification process "now in Portugal", and that they will "also go to other locations where there are a large number of angolan citizens", however, she warned: "It is obvious that we will not be able to reach everyone".

Even because, "what is enshrined in the Constitution" in Angola is that electoral registration abroad is done in diplomatic and consular missions and, therefore, only in countries where the Angolan State has diplomatic representation.

Angola plans to hold general elections in September 2022. The electoral capacity of angolan citizens to reside abroad was enshrined in the Angolan Constitution only this year, so this will be the first time that the angolan diaspora will vote.

Marcy Lopes is in Portugal to "check the state of preparation of the diplomatic and consular mission" in the country for the unofficial electoral registration. "We came to see the state of the organization and also how we are going to talk to people", namely with representatives of civil society, she added. The Angolan government official travels to Porto this Wednesday, with the same purpose.

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