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Angola, a long and bitter civil war now behind it, is on a track to join Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana as one of the economic power houses of Africa. Its strong energy sector and agricultural potential have it poised for further growth, but that may not be realized without good governance and strong democratic institutions.
In her recent visit to the capital Luanda aiming to bolster ties between our two nations, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has taken some steps to improve transparency, but more can be done to win the trust of its citizens and the international community. Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer, but few of its people see the economic benefits.
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"Corruption is a problem everywhere and where it exists, it undermines people's faith in democracy, it distorts governance," Secretary Clinton said. Her remarks echoed a theme voiced by President Barack Obama that nations in Africa must control their own destinies by adopting democratic values and institutions and strong, open legal systems.
To this end, she encouraged the Luanda government to proceed with now-uncertain presidential elections in a free and fair manner. In the meantime, the U.S. will expand technical assistance to Angola and support for agriculture, health, education, renewable energy and other programs aimed at strengthening local government and preparing the media for elections.
"We look forward to Angola building on its positive steps, including the adoption of a new constitution, investigating and prosecuting past human-rights abuses and holding a timely, free and fair presidential election," the Secretary said.
Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, but hasn't had a presidential election since 1992.