Dear Secretary of State Clinton
The name of Angola has become known in the corridors of international diplomacy and in the business world because of its increased oil exporting capacity. This fact hides a brutal political reality, where corruption among holders of public office, bad governance and the repeated violation of human rights hold sway.
Angola and the United States of America will continue to be partners independently of whoever exercises political power, as both countries have interests in this partnership. Angola will continue to produce oil for the next three decades, and this fact will certainly cement the commercial relationship between our countries.
Angola is on the road to reproducing the politial and economic model in which successful business people, those with whom foreign companies necessarily have to do business, are public office holders, their friends or close family members, involved in, or nominated for, positions of political power.
We would ask you to take into account the following points, among many others :
The children of the President of the Republic are rapidly monopolizing the telecommunications, transport, diamonds, and banking sectors and are going to extend their interventions to other economic sectors.
- Without any public competition, the family of the President of the Republic has taken over the management of Channel 2 of the Angolan State Television and there are signs that they will also take over the management of the 2 channels of this television station.
- Individuals with close connections to the President of the Republic have established a private media firm which runs a TV channel, a newspaper and a radio station. The TV channel was created and is operating without the proper legal permissions.
- A new private Angolan bank has been established with every indication that it will manage the public funds invested in a housing construction project called « A Million Houses ». It appears clear that some of the shareholders of this bank will be direct family members of the Angolan President.
- The state media are controlled by those in political power and follow the governmental line. There is thus no media space for the opposition parties. Angolan journalists continue to be intimidated. The regime uses the justice system, and the law is only applied in the case of journalists, civil society activists and human rights defenders or ordinary citizens.
- Worst of all, the Attorney General’s Office and the judiciary, including the Constitutional Court, perform actions and maintain relationships that are incompatible with the proper exercise of their institutional functions. This is in flagrant violation of the Constitution and the statutes governing the judicial magistrature and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
- Angola’s Criminal Police and Attorney General’s Office are apprised of sufficient facts and evidence, which are also in the public domain, to oblige them to carry out investigations into alleged corrupt practices by public office holders and state functionaries Yet no such investigations have taken place.
- The forced displacements and taking of land without respect for due process, as established by law, and with impunity, are continuing, even after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch together with Angolan NGO SOS-Habitat have published reports documenting such illegal practices. The legal and constitutional arguments for the illegality of these practices, and the facts described by these three human rights organizations, are irrefutable.
- Angolan prisons are full of detainees awaiting trial after the time period for their preventive detention has expired. The majority of prisons in police stations do not have adequate conditions to house detainees.
- Agents of the Angolan national Police continue to assault and kill Angolan citizens.
- The services offered by public hospitals and healthcare centres are completely inadequate for the treatment of those citizens that seek their assistance.
- Recently, the Angolan National Assembly approved the State Budget with an average petroleum price of $37 per barrel, when in reality the market price is higher than this.
- The President of the Republic of Angola takes the lead in disrespecting the Angolan Constitution. The President nominated the President of the National Assembly for roles which are incompatible with his functions, thus violating the principle of the separation of powers. In addition, the position of Vice President of the Constitutional Court of Angola has been without a presidential nominee for years, again in violation of the Constitution.
- A foundation called the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation (FESA in its Portuguese acronym) has been established, with the President as its patron, which is incompatible with the exercise of the office of Head of State.
- Under the Angolan Constitution, the President does not have discretionary power regarding the holding of either legislative or presidential elections. On the contrary, the frequency of elections is laid out in the Constitution, and can only be departed from in cases where a state of war exists, where a state of emergency is declared, or where there are other exceptional circumstances that breach political or constitutional normalcy, and thus genuinely impede the physical holding of elections.
- There are internal and external factors that perpetuate a situation of bad governance in Angola, preventing insitutions from evolving in terms of the fulfilment of their state functions. On the contrary, a state of impunity, corruption and human rights violations continues whose consequences are a deepening of the absolute poverty and lack of liberty endured by most Angolan citizens. This lack of basic freedoms and poverty has now reached unacceptable and unsustainable levels.
In view of the above, we hope that the Government of the United States, which appears to be turning its attention in terms of US oil interests away from the Middle East to the Gulf of Guinea, now under the leadership of President Obama, will not adopt a foreign policy position of complicity and validation of practices which violate the humanist African tradition and the universal values which are enshrined in the Angolan Consitution and in Angolan law.
Secretary of State, there is a much greater chance that respect for fundamental human liberties will become a reality in Africa – and globally – if the United States commits to a foreign policy guided by fundamental values rather than by a narrow concept of its economic and military interests. In this way, we will see the genuine promotion of peace and global stability.
Luanda, 7 August 2009.