|06LUANDA1316||2006-12-29 10:30:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Luanda|
1. (U) Topics Covered
-- MPLA Promotes National Plan
-- Muslims Allowed To Reopen Mosques
-- Workshop on "Human Rights and Poverty"
-- GRA Launches "www.angola-portal.ao"
MPLA Promotes National Plan During 50th Anniversary
2. (U) On December 1st the MPLA kicked-off a 10-day celebration to
mark its 50th anniversary. Speaking both as head of government and
party chief, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos unveiled the MPLA's
long term plan for the country, dubbed "Angola 2025." The plan grew
out the MPLA's proposed 2004 "National Agenda of Consensus." Billed
as Angola's "Marshall Plan" for post war reconstruction, the
National Agenda presented economic and social goals and policies
that amend the constitution, expand executive power, and include an
obligatory clause making the plan binding for any party in power.
Opposition parties blocked the Plan, and its reappearance as "Angola
2025" provoked strong criticism from UNITA party leader Isaias
Samakuva (reftel A).
3. (SBU) COMMENT: Although the MPLA is officially a political party,
its position as the party in power gives it the leverage and
resources to rule through laws passed by its majority in the
Assembly. Opposition leaders fear that the MPLA will impose "Angola
2025" instead of building a true consensus. The non-stop media
coverage of the MPLA's celebrations, awards ceremonies, and parades
contrasted with the lack of media coverage and denial of marching
permits for UNITA and PRS activities during the month, further
confirming the MPLA's hold on state television, radio, and
newspapers. END COMMENT
Muslims Allowed To Reopen Mosques
4. (U) The government authorized the Islamic Community of Angola
(COIA) to reopen mosques shut down in Luanda since January 2006.
The National Institute for Religious Issues (INAR) had ordered the
mosques closed on the grounds that they had opened without
authorization from the Ministry of Justice and approval from INAR.
INAR has now granted a temporary permit to COIA and authorization
from the Ministry of Justice is pending.
5. (SBU) COMMENT: Opening a place of worship requires legal
authorization in Angola, and prerequisites include signatures from a
hundred thousand adherents. Angola may not have that many Muslims,
but the government seems to be making an exception in this case.
Most of Angola's Muslims are West African immigrants. END COMMENT
Workshop on "Human Rights and Poverty"
6. (U) UNHCR and the Human Rights Committee of the Angolan
Parliament conducted a workshop on "Human Rights and Poverty" as
part of their commemoration of Human Rights Day. The two-day
workshop featured presentations by noted academic, NGO, and
political leaders on issues such as the "vicious circle" of poverty,
conflict and insecurity and the role of civil society in the fight
against poverty. In his closing remarks, Parliament President
Roberto D'Almeida admitted that it is regrettable that Angolans,
like many people in many countries, still lack a decent standard of
living and the capacity to exercise their social rights to
education, health services and employment. He also lamented what he
characterized as a "dual standard" presented by international
organizations when preparing Human Rights Reports.
7. (U) Debates between NGO, government, and opposition attendees
were often lively and aggressive during the discussion periods that
followed each presentation. Much discussion centered on Article
Nine of the Angolan Constitution, which obligates the government to
provide economic stability and well being for its citizens. People
questioned if the government is violating this article and if so,
what are the consequences. Consensus was not reached on this or any
other issue. NOTE: The first discussion period was not well
moderated, leading to accusations of MPLA favoritism and at least
one NGO representative stalking off in anger, but the lesson was
learned and subsequent discussion periods had timed comment periods
for all who wished to address the group. END NOTE
GRA Launches Government website
8. (U) On December 5, Prime Minister Fernando Dos Santos launched
the official Government webpage as part of an effort to modernize
governmental services, reduce bureaucracy, and increase
transparency. The Government has pledged to computerize all
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services by 2008. The Ministry of Science and Technology is working
in conjunction with the Public University to implement the National
Information Technology plan. The IT Plan was launched on December 1
with a week of activities, including workshops, activation of a
national computer laboratory, inauguration of the official webpage
and distribution of computers to governmental Ministries.
9. (SBU) COMMENT: While the effort is praiseworthy, the web page is
hard to access and features bandwidth-hungry graphics, something
which is problematical in a country with limited bandwidth and a 1.3
percent internet penetration rate. End comment.