Tue, Aug 11, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Clinton heads to DRC from Angola


US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday 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 was scheduled to leave Angola after signing a new agreement with health officials to fight HIV/AIDS and meeting Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled for 30 years and has been criticized 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 Congo, and hold a town hall meeting. Today she is to travel to the east of the country to meet victims of rapes and other sexual crimes.

While in the eastern city of Goma, Clinton also plans to meet Congolese President Joseph Kabila to press his government on democratic reform and fighting corruption in the wake of a brutal conflict that at its height drew in a half dozen of the country’s neighbors.

She 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 last year — 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 percent of the country’s GDP, officials traveling with her said.

Clinton came to Luanda on the third leg of a seven-nation trip to reinforce the US’ presence in a country where it increasingly is competing for energy resources with China. However, she downplayed any concern about China’s activities in the country.

“I am not looking at what anyone else does in Angola,” Clinton said.

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