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August 10, 09

NEWS / Clinton Pledges U.S. Partnership for Angolas Growing Democracy

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer

Washington — Citing the importance of government transparency and strong institutions to protect rights and ensure accountability, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Angolan lawmakers their country can become one of Africa’s leading nations, and the United States wants to work in partnership to help Angola realize its full potential.

Speaking to the Angolan National Assembly in Luanda August 9, Clinton said the Obama administration believes Angola “is positioned to be a leader on the economic front, the social and political fronts, the security front, in every way.”

The United States “wants to be your partner, your friend and your ally,” she told the Angolans, as Angola works to builds its institutions, civil society and economy, “and, most importantly, deliver the results of democracy to the people of your country.”

“After 27 years of war, there is a lot of work to do,” she said. She praised the peaceful 2008 National Assembly elections and said the role of Angola’s legislature is “absolutely crucial” in defining the country’s future.

“The parliament must demand accountability and transparency, and stand against financial corruption and abuse of power,” she told lawmakers. “Indeed, I believe no democracy can thrive and bring benefits to its people over the long term without an elected body like a parliament that represents the will of the people and holds leaders accountable.”

With women making up 40 percent of the assembly, Clinton said, “I must commend you, because in some respects you’ve already made more progress than we have.”

She also noted that the National Assembly has been given the responsibility of creating a new constitution. “This … must be more than words on paper,” she said. “It must be a living expression of the values and attitudes of your nation and the enshrinement of principles of good governance and human rights.”

The secretary said democracy requires elements such as an independent judiciary, a free press and the protection of minority rights. She also expressed her hope that Angola will soon schedule a presidential election. But “consolidating democracy does not depend just on holding elections,” she said.

Clinton related her experience as a U.S. senator, when she served in both the political minority and the majority. Regardless of who is in power, she said, the legislature must serve as a check and balance on the executive branch.

“That tension is important to keep everybody focused, honest, vigilant and effective in serving the people,” she said.

In remarks with Angolan Minister of External Relations Assunção Afonso dos Anjos August 9, Clinton said corruption “is a problem everywhere.” She said it undermines faith in democracy, while also preventing “the full involvement of people in their societies and the delivery of services to citizens.”

Although Clinton said she raised the issue of corruption during her meeting with dos Anjos, she praised the Angolan government for using more of its revenue to build the country’s infrastructure and said it has begun to take steps to increase its transparency.

“The Angolan government is now publishing online the revenues they receive from the oil industry. They are working with United States Treasury officials on how to bring more transparency and efficiency into the government budget and fiscal affairs,” she said.

As the two countries pursue a comprehensive strategic partnership, Clinton said, they will continue to discuss the issues of good governance, rule of law and anti-corruption efforts.

The partnership will also include revitalizing agriculture in Angola, expanding bilateral trade and investment, cooperating against the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria, and working together on energy issues, including developing renewable sources.

The secretary said the United States can provide Angola with technical assistance to develop hydropower and work with the country to protect resources like the Congo Basin as well as reduce its gas flaring emissions.

While the United States is also involved with the petroleum exploration and production in the Gulf of Guinea, Clinton said, “we would like to make sure that any exploration and production of oil and gas benefits the people of the countries around the Gulf of Guinea.”

Foreign Minister dos Anjos said his country hopes to benefit from U.S. technological experience and financial help.

He also said the rest of Africa and the world “can count” on Angola’s decision to work for peace, stability and development. The dialogue between African countries and between world civilizations “will ultimately lead to the elaboration and solution of the grave and serious problems that touch mankind — instability, drugs, the financial international crisis,” dos Anjos said.

Read more: http://www.america.gov/st/africa-english/2009/August/20090810134725esnamfuak0.9070398.html?CP.rss=true#ixzz0NokacmjG

Tags: secretary of state,


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