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Clinton Urges Angola to Hold Free, Fair Elections



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos to hold free and fair elections.

Secretary Clinton met with President Dos Santos in Luanda where she said Angola's continued economic growth depends on good governance and strong democratic institutions. Clinton told reporters that President Dos Santos told her that his government is committed to completing a new constitution and holding presidential elections in a timely manner.

Angola has not had a presidential election in nearly two decades. The country is just seven years removed from 27 years of civil war during which the United States backed rebels fighting President Dos Santos.

Angola's foreign minister said a presidential vote, the one scheduled for later this year, will likely be delayed until 2010 so it can be held under a new constitution.

During her visit to Angola, Clinton witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Angola's petroleum ministry, the US Agency for International Development and the oil firm Chevron to support more diversified agricultural production. U.S. oil companies account for half of the daily production in Angola, which now rivals Nigeria for the title of Africa's largest producer of oil.

Despite those profits, two-thirds of Angolans live on less than $2.00 a day. It ranks 158 on the 180-nation list of most corrupt countries, as judged by Transparency International.

In Angola, Clinton said corruption undermines peoples' faith in democracy, distorts governance and prevents people from being fully involved in their societies. She credited the government in Luanda for moving to reduce corruption in the oil sector by publishing revenues on line and working with U.S. officials to increase transparency.

She also signed an agreement boosting U.S. assistance to fight HIV-AIDS in Angola from $7 million to $17 million.

Angola was the third stop on an African trip that has already taken her to Kenya and South Africa. She is now in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she will meet with President Joseph Kabila Tuesday, before continuing on to Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

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