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Cablegate: Staffdel Raises Transparency Concerns and Creates

VZCZCXRO4633
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0231/01 0860632
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260632Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4679
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0124
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000231

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV OREP ECON OPET EAID AO
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL RAISES TRANSPARENCY CONCERNS AND CREATES
OPENING FOR HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE

REF: 07 LUANDA 1207

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During their March 18 ) 22 visit to
Angola, Senate Professional Staff Members Michael Phelan and
Neil Brown engaged senior Angolan leaders on transparency,
the upcoming legislative elections, and the role of energy in
our bilateral relationship. The Angolan interlocutors were
candid about the capacity and infrastructure challenges of
the country's post-conflict economic development and
acknowledged the need for greater transparency and a better
investment climate. The Angolans were less forthcoming on
specifics for tackling these concerns. Finance Ministry
interlocutors want to expand the Fiscal Programming Unit at
the Ministry. One message was clear and consistent
throughout the StaffDel,s numerous senior-level meetings:
Angola seeks increased high-level engagement with the United
States. Senior-level USG engagement with Angola would be
well-timed, and offers an opportunity to gauge the
seriousness of the GRA's professed desire to deepen our
relationship. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Despite extremely short notice, the GRA organized an
impressive schedule of high-level meetings for the visiting
staff members, including meetings with the ministers of
finance and industry, the vice-ministers of external
relations and territorial administration (election
preparations), influential senior MPLA leader Paulo Jorge,
and others. The discussions were candid and frank, focused
largely on the many challenges Angola faces and less on
government efforts to tackle these problems.

3. (SBU) Assessing the nation's difficult investment climate,
the Angolan interlocutors recognized that Angola needs to
address a wide range of problems, including the lack of
educated and trained human capacity, poor physical
infrastructure, the continuing problems with procuring
Angolan visas, the high cost of housing in Luanda, the effect
of the crippling traffic congestion in Luanda, the language
barrier, and the nation's outdated legal and regulatory
framework.

4. (SBU) Raised by the StaffDel, transparency, or rather
Angola's need for greater transparency, featured prominently
in the discussions as well, with the Angolan interlocutors
acknowledging that the transparency issue contributes to
Angola's negative international image. In separate meetings,
Finance Minister de Morais and National Treasury Director Dr.
Armando Manuel requested more U.S. assistance in helping the
GRA address transparency shortcomings. They proposed, for
starters, that the USG deepen its existing assistance to the
Fiscal Programming Unit at the Finance Ministry, as a basis
for expanding assistance in other areas at the Ministry.
(Note: No new discretionary Development Assistance funding is
available for the program in the FY 2008 USAID budget.)
However, in response to StaffDel queries about Angola's
participating in the Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative, the Finance Minister explained that this is an
issue of "political sensitivity," and the government does not
want to pass the legislation and regulations required to
comply fully with EITI. Nonetheless, he claimed Angola is
"doing more than other countries" on EITI, including
providing on-line information on royalty payments by the oil
producers. During a dinner hosted by Ambassador Mozena for
the StaffDel with country managers of foreign oil companies
here, the consensus of the group was that lack of
transparency continues to be a significant concern in the
petroleum sector.

5. (SBU) The StaffDel was warmly greeted by the MPLA's
influential veteran leader Paulo Jorge, who said Angola must
improve its education and health services, and find a way to
enhance economic production through diversification away from
the oil sector. He called for the relationship to move
beyond words and into action. He proposed regular, direct
bilateral engagement at senior levels to discuss a range of
issues, including health, education, transparency, the
investment climate, and economic development.

6. (SBU) Unlike his meeting with visiting AFRICOM Commander
Gen. Ward last December (reftel), when he subjected the
General to an hour-long harangue on the evils of America,
Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Jorge Chicoti received the

LUANDA 00000231 002 OF 002


delegation with great warmth and professed his desire for
deepened relations with the United States. He began the
meeting by apologizing profusely for his Ministry's failure
to provide concurrence for the proposed and subsequently
postponed early March visit to Angola by NAVEUR Commander
Admiral Fitzgerald. He promised that his Ministry would work
with the Embassy to reschedule the visit soonest. Chicoti
said Angola will be ready for legislative elections on
September 5 and/or 6, and added that Angola will welcome
international observers. Chicoti pointed to Angola's new
public disarmament campaign as a way the country will achieve
better election security. Chicoti said the Kenyan crisis
demonstrates the need for transparency in an election.
Concluding the meeting, the Vice Minister asked for increased
"contact" with the Department of State, adding that improved
mil-mil relations, especially related to AFRICOM, will
require further consultation.

7. (SBU) The StaffDel met separately with the executive
committees of the National Assembly's Commission on Foreign
Relations and the Commission on Human Rights. The
parliamentarians expressed appreciation for the opportunity
to exchange views with representatives from the U.S.
legislative body, and they asked that the dialogue continue.
(Note: Post is working with the National Assembly to nominate
parliamentarians for an International Visitors Program this
fiscal year.) The parliamentarians said they looked forward
to the upcoming legislative elections in September, and
seemed ready to welcome change after fifteen years on the job
in the same Commission.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Senior GRA officials took advantage of the
opportunity to describe to the Congressional Staffers the
myriad challenges facing this country's economic development.
When the conversations turned to the difficult issues of
transparency and regulatory reform for an improved investment
climate, however, ideas for concrete solutions were lacking.
A clear and coordinated message from the GRA was delivered
to/through the StaffDel: Angola wants to engage with the U.S.
The time seems right to gauge the seriousness of Angola's
professed desire, as expressed to Ambassador Mozena and the
StaffDel, to "deepen relations" with the United States. In
that regard, Post believes that ongoing Washington
discussions regarding a possible Angola visit by senior USG
officials are especially timely. The invitation of an
Angolan ministerial-level delegation to Washington for
discussions would be well-timed as well.

9. (SBU) StaffDel Phelan did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable.
MOZENA

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