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Clinton Calls for Elections in Angola

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Angola where she is urging the government in Luanda to fight corruption and hold presidential elections.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says economic growth in Angola depends on good governance and strong democratic institutions.

After a meeting with Angolan Foreign Minister Assuncao Afonso dos Anjos, Clinton said she hoped the nation's first presidential election in almost two decades would be held in a "timely manner."

Dos Anjos says a presidential vote expected later this year will likely be delayed until 2010 so Angola can approve a new constitution. The foreign minister says Angola was criticized for delaying legislative elections, which it eventually held last year, and is now asking for more time to organize presidential elections.

Angola is only seven years removed from 27 years of civil war, in which the United States backed rebels from the UNITA movement. UNITA is now the main opposition party and says President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is delaying a presidential vote to extend his time in office.

Angola and Nigeria are Africa's largest producers of crude oil, and U.S. firms account for half of Angola's daily production. Hydrocarbons are a big part of Clinton's visit as she met with the petroleum minister and witnessed the signing of a deal between Chevron, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Angola's government to support agricultural production.

Despite Angola's vast oil wealth, two-thirds of its people live on less than $2.00 a day. The nation ranks 158th on the 180-nation list of most corrupt countries as judged by Transparency International.

The U.S. Secretary of State praised Angola for making moves to fight corruption in the oil sector by publishing revenues on-line and working with U.S. officials to increase transparency.

She said corruption undermines people's faith in democracy, distorts governance, and prevents people from being fully involved in their societies.

Asked about the growth of China's influence in Angola and Beijing's loans to Luanda of more than $5-billion, Clinton said she is not looking at what anyone else is doing in Angola, but at what the United States can do "to further and deepen" the relationship.

It is the third stop on an Africa trip that has already taken her to Kenya and South Africa. Clinton visits the Democratic Republic of Congo Monday before Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde.