Cablegate: Scenesetter for Admiral Fitzgerald's March 4-5

DE RUEHLU #0172/01 0600613
P 290613Z FEB 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) My staff and I warmly welcome your visit to Luanda
March 4-6. This visit provides an excellent opportunity to
capitalize on the positive momentum established during the
February 21-23 visit of the HSV Swift and follow up on some
of the issues addressed by General Ward during his December
2007 visit. Progress has stalled on the centerpiece of our
mil-mil relationship, the proposed bilateral work plan first
suggested in 2006, and visits such as these are key to moving
our bi-lateral dialogue forward.

2. (SBU) Angola's political and military leadership continues
to be wary of U.S. intentions, especially concerning Africom
and our goals for military engagement with the region in
general and with Angola in particular. Increasingly, Angola
is angling to take a leadership role in regional peace and
security organizations such as the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU).

3. (U) Six years after the end in 2002 of a 27-year civil
war, Angola is at a pivotal juncture in its development and
reconstruction. A democratic, stable and economically
prosperous Angola is vital to both regional stability and
prosperity and US national security interests. Our principal
goals are consolidating Angola's democratic transition and
strengthening the country's ability to more efficiently use
its vast mineral wealth to improve the well-being of all

4. (SBU) Perhaps the greatest constraint to improving our
ties with the Angolan government and the military in
particular is our history with Angola. President dos Santos
has publicly chastised the powers that interfered in colonial
Angola for not helping rebuild the country after decades of
civil war, and he includes the U.S. in that group. Many of
Angola's civilian and military leaders fought against rebels
backed by the U.S. and blame the U.S. for the suffering
inflicted by those rebels on their families. Some Angolans
seek to strengthen ties with the U.S., including Armed Forces
Chief, Gen. Furtado, but many others, including the still
powerful and influential Minister of Defense, are wary.

Military Cooperation

5. (SBU) Angola's military (110,000 soldiers) is regarded as
one of the better African forces. As Angola transitions into
a post-conflict force structure, GRA officials are planning
to reduce its standing military to around 50,000 personnel.
Angola is the head of the peace and security councils of both
SADC and the African Union. Angola has welcomed its
leadership position on these multi-lateral councils, and is
consulting closely with its African neighbors on a wide range
of regional security issues, including the conflict in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. These multi-lateral groups are
key in forming regional opinion on U.S. involvement on the
continent through Africom and in shaping regional responses
to diplomatic trouble spots, such as Zimbabwe.

6. (SBU) As Angola increases its efforts to become a
regional player, bilateral engagement with the U.S. and NATO
allies is slowing down (with the exception of Portugal),
while engagement with others, notably Israel and Russia, is
increasing. During your visit last year, the Angolans
promised renewed cooperation, but Angolan lack of
participation in our IMET program, ACSS conferences, various
offers of assistance and a bilateral work plan indicate that
we have not yet overcome suspicions generated by our role in
the Angolan civil war. It remains to be seen whether recent
openness to dialogue will translate into concrete action.

7. (SBU) Coming on the heels of General Ward's and the HSV
Swift's visit, your visit is can futhere help to dispel
misconceptions about our intentions both regionally and in
Angola. Discussing your vision for Africom's engagement in
the region would address many of the concerns voiced by other
African leaders in the international press. Once Angolan
leaders better understand Africom, they could play a helpful
role in defining this vision. While reaching agreement with
the Angolans to formalize our bilateral military-to-military
engagement through the signing of a Bilateral Military
Cooperation Agreement would represent a ground-breaking step
forward in our relationship, this is seen as a long-term

LUANDA 00000172 002 OF 003


Politics and Elections

8. (SBU) While nominally a multi-party democracy, Angola's
government is dominated by the Popular Movement for the
Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and a very strong chief executive
(now in office for 28 years) - Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.
Angola's only democratic elections since independence in 1975
were held in 1992. The result was contested by Jonas
Savimbi, leader of the opposition party Union for the Total
Independence of Angola (UNITA), and resulted in the
resumption of civil war. Savimbi was killed in battle in
February 2002, and a formal peace accord was signed shortly

9. (U) In December 2006, President Dos Santos and opposition
parties reached agreement to hold legislative elections in
2008 and presidential elections in 2009. Voter registration
was completed in September 2007, with over 8 million Angolans
registering to vote. In a December 28th speech, President
dos Santos announced that legislative elections would be held
on September 5th and 6th 2008; while he must still formally
call elections 90 days prior to the election, all signs
indicate the oft-postponed elections are actually on track
for 2008.

10. (U) U.S. assistance for democracy-building and good
governance in FY 07 was approximately $7.5 million. Our
programs are administered through USAID and executed by
International Republican Institute (IRI), the National
Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International IFES. They
focus on building civil society capacity, strengthening
political parties, and providing limited technical assistance
to the Angolan government.

Human Rights Improving, but Capacity a Constraint
--------------------------------------------- ----

11. (U) Angola's human rights record continues to show areas
where improvements are needed. The country's overburdened
judicial system remains a poor protector of individual
rights. Several high-profile cases in 2007 drew attention to
the role of the government in fueling self-censorship of the
media and continuing restrictions on the freedom of movement
within Angola for journalists and others. Elements of the
military and police security forces continue to show a
disregard for human rights and the government has failed to
transparently investigate allegations of abuse. A
high-profile report released in December 2007 by Doctors
without Borders accused Angolan security forces of severely
abusing and systematically raping illegal Congolese
immigrations during expulsion operations in the remote
province of Lunda Norte; despite the Army Chief of Staff's
promise that the allegations would be investigated, no
further report has been issued.

12. (U) Prisons are overcrowded with harsh conditions,
especially in the provinces. The NGO movement is still
nascent, but there are some indigenous organizations tracking
human rights abuses and working with the GRA to train the
national police on human rights issues.

13. (U) USG-funded programs have helped train police through
the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) Gaborone
facility. In addition, USG funded international organization
partners in Angola have provided training on specific issues
such as trafficking in persons and child rights. The USG, in
conjunction with the Government of Portugal, is carrying out
a project of court automation with the Ministry of Justice.


14. (U) Angola's economy is one of the fastest growing in the
world, driven by booming oil production. Production,
officially capped by OPEC at 1.9 million barrels per day
(bpd), is projected to reach over 2.2 million bpd by the end
of 2008. Angola's economy grew by 19.5 percent in 2006 and
23.4 percent in 2007, and is expected to match or beat that
pace in 2008. Inflation was reduced from triple digits near
the end of the war to just under 12 percent last year.
Thanks again to petroleum revenue, foreign exchange reserves

LUANDA 00000172 003 OF 003

are growing. Angola is our seventh largest source of foreign
oil. Thanks to oil revenue and to extensive lines of credit
supplied by the Chinese, Portuguese, Brazilians, and other
governments, Angola is now in the midst of major
infrastructure rebuilding.

15. (U) Angola's tremendous oil wealth has allowed it to come
out from under a severe debt burden generated during the
civil war years. The government deficit is under control and
foreign reserve accounts are flush with capital from
extractive industries, namely oil and diamonds. Outside
these industries, however, the Angolan economy continues to
sputter. Agriculture is slowly returning to the countryside,
while manufacturing and service industries are scarce and
generate few jobs to address the nation's burgeoning
unemployment problem.

16. (U) According to the World Bank's 2007 "Doing Business"
index, Angola ranks 167 out of 178 countries in promoting an
open and efficient business climate. Angola's rankings in
the categories of "starting a business" (173 out of 178) and
"enforcing contracts" (176 out of 178) are of particular

Development and US Assistance

17. (U) While Angola shows signs of growth and development,
the country still has some of the lowest development
indicators in the world. Although statistical data are
imprecise, best international estimates are that sixty-eight
percent of the population lives in poverty, 26 percent in
abject poverty. Life expectancy is forty-seven years, more
than 30 percent lower than the average for developing
nations; infant mortality, maternal mortality and other
measures of the quality of life are among the worst in the
world. Fertility is very high - an average of 6.9 births per

18. (U) Our USAID programs are aimed at assisting Angola to
address the many major challenges it faces to achieving
long-term stability and progress in translating wealth into
an appreciably improved quality of life for its citizens.
Our flagship program is the President's Malaria Initiative
(PMI), which seeks to halve by 2010 mortality from malaria
among children under five - and we're on track to do that.
The Angolan government, in particular the Health Ministry,
has been closely involved in the program and collaboration
with other donors is strong. In FY07, the second year of
implementation, PMI sprayed over 110,000 houses (reaching
over 500,000 Angolans), distributed over 90,000 bed nets and
furnished over 2.4 million treatments for malaria.

19. (U) The USG is also highly visible in the fight against
HIV/AIDS. Angola presents a unique opportunity to combat the
spread of HIV/AIDS. According to CDC data, Angola has a
relatively low prevalence rate (2.5% among adults in 2006),
but areas bordering higher-prevalence countries have rates
four to five times as large and are rising. Still, many of
the factors conducive to an increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS
are in place: the early age of sexual debut, the common
occurrence of multiple partners, and improved transportation
routes, which encourage greater interaction with neighboring
countries with significantly greater rates. The USG - CDC,
USAID, DOS and DOD - is working closely with the Angolan
Ministry of Health, private partners and NGOs to implement
the national plan against HIV-AIDS. A more complete survey
is now underway to measure prevalence; results are expected
in December.

20. (U) Angola also remains one of the most heavily
land-mined countries in the world, and USG assistance
provides around USD 5.5 million to support humanitarian
landmine clearance and the destruction of excess and unstable
weapons and munitions. We also support capacity-building
within the Angolan National Demining Commission to strengthen
the Angolan capacity to manage the national demining program
and take over the major role played by international NGOs in
landmine clearance.

© Scoop Media

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