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10 Aug 2009 08:35
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton heads to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday to target an epidemic of sexual assault in the violence-torn nation after wrapping up a trip
to Angola where she pushed democratic reform and trade.
Clinton will leave Angola after signing a new agreement with Angolan health officials to fight HIV/AIDS and meeting President José Eduardo Dos Santos, who has ruled for 30 years and has been criticised for postponing a presidential vote scheduled for this year.
In the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, she will visit a hospital founded by former NBA star Dikembe Mutumbo, a native of the DRC, and hold a town hall meeting. On Tuesday, she travels to the devastated
east of the country to meet victims of rampant rapes and other sexual crimes.
While in the eastern city of Goma, Clinton also plans to meet Congolese President Joseph Kabila to press him and his government on democratic reform and fighting corruption in the wake of a brutal conflict.
Clinton delivered a similar message in oil-rich Angola, which is struggling to rebuild after 27 years of war that ended in 2002.
On Sunday, she urged Angola’s government to build on successful legislative elections held in 2008—the first in 16 years—by holding presidential elections as soon as possible and dealing with the legacy of 27 years of civil war.
“We look forward to Angola building on this positive step, including the adoption of a new Constitution, investigating and prosecuting past human rights abuses and holding a timely, free and fair presidential election,” she said.
“So, Mr Minister, we have our work cut out for us,” she said.
Clinton stressed the need for greater accountability and transparency in Angola’s petroleum sector, particularly with revenue from exports, which account for nearly 60% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to officials traveling
Clinton came to the Angolan capital on the third leg of a seven-nation trip to reinforce America’s presence in a country where it increasingly is competing for energy resources with China.
Beijing has loaned Angola billions of dollars in recent years without pressing reform.
But Clinton downplayed any concern about China’s activities in the country.
“I am not looking at what anyone else does in Angola,” she said.
“I am looking at what the United States can do to further and deepen our relationship and provide assistance and support for the changes the Angolan government is undertaking.”
Angola, a former Cold War battleground, supplies vast amounts of petroleum and liquid natural gas to the US market.
In June, Angola surpassed Nigeria as Africa’s largest petroleum producer.
Despite its oil wealth, Angola is mired in poverty as a result of the destruction of most of infrastructure during the war, which broke out after its 1975 independence from Portugal.
The war ended in 2002, leading to major energy sector investments.
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