October 20, 2008

US protects interests in Angola / President appoints new deputy ministers

The United States is providing Angola with "naval training and intelligence" to prevent it becoming a target for seaborne crime as it assumes the mantle of Africa's biggest oil producer, a US admiral has said. The move is part of broader efforts by a number of energy-hungry developed and emerging economies to build co-operation with west and central African states despite growing insecurity around the continent, particularly off the Horn of Africa and around oil-producing countries. "Any place that money goes it raises the spectre of people chasing the money," US Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of US Naval Forces Europe, said at a briefing on US naval operations across Europe and Africa. "We want to be viewed as coming down to build capacity so that you can enforce the laws of your country and aren't going to get wrapped up in this narco-smuggling or the piracy or those kind of issues." He added: "Angola has been relatively peaceful, and let's hope it stays that way."

As well as low-level intelligence, the US Navy has provided Angola with computers and training and could soon supply radar equipment and patrol ships to help it build a control centre to monitor its coastal waters, US naval officials said. A US naval frigate recently visited Angola, and visits have also been made to countries including Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome, Cape Verde and Senegal to build ties and improve intelligence sharing.
Many of those countries in west and central Africa have also received patrol boats.

Fitzgerald said Angola was "one of those places that we want to go and start building capacity so that they have the ability to ward off this stuff." Nigeria's oil output contributes to 18 percent of the (oil) exports that come into the United States but their output has been cut 20 to 30 percent because of all the various things going on down there." Recognising Angola's new-found wealth and importance, Fitzgerald said it was vital to build a partnership quickly, even if the US, which backed the losing side during the civil war, had some "baggage".
In the meantime, it also got known that President José Eduardo dos Santos has appointed the deputy ministers of Justice, Industry, Urbanisation and Housing, Transport and Education. According to a communiqué of the Services of Assistance to the President, José Eduardo dos Santos, the officials are Ana Carlos Canene Meireles de Vasconcelos, to the post of deputy minister of Justice, Kiala Ngone Gabriel, to the post of deputy minister of Industry, and Joaquim Silvestre, as the deputy minister of Urbanisation and Housing. The Head of State aslo nominated José João Kuvingua, as the deputy minister of Transport, and Ana Paula Inês Luis N'Dala Fernando, to the position of deputy minister of Education. (Independent Online, South Africa / Angola Press Agency, Luanda)

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