Thursday, April 5, 2012

Angola Celebrates 10 Years of Peace

On Wednesday April 4, Angola celebrated 10 years of peace after a devastating civil war, with parades and concerts hailing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for ushering in an oil-fuelled economic boom. 

Dos Santos unveiled a peace monument in Luena, the capital of the eastern province of Moxico, near the site where Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in battle on February 22, 2002.  The monument featured two giant dark hands releasing a white dove to the sky and is installed in the town's Lenin Park, named after Russian communist leader, Vladimir Ilyich. 
Savimbi’s death paved the way to a peace deal signed in the capital Luanda on April 4, 2002, ending the 27-year civil conflict that erupted soon after independence from Portugal in 1975. 

The conflict left an estimated 500 000 dead, displaced four million others, involved three different liberation movements and saw intervention from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, the United States and apartheid South Africa.   The immensity and duration of the conflict left much of the road, bridge and farming infrastructure destroyed. 

How times have changed. Today Angola can now boast of a booming economy - forecast to grow 12% this year - and a growing regional and international diplomatic profile.

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Foreign investors are flocking to Angola hoping to share in the boom times ”
Angola's physical transformation since the end of the war has also been immense.  Oil revenues and associated Chinese loans have bankrolled an ambitious national reconstruction programme of roads, airports, bridges, hospitals and schools.
In the sprawling cities, where the war-weary sought refuge during the height of the conflict, urban slums are being given a facelift.
And once productive agricultural fields are now being cleared of landmines ready for replanting; industries like cotton and coffee are being revived and old copper, iron and gold mines are being re-opened for prospection.
Meanwhile, foreign investors are flocking to Angola hoping to share in the boom times and Luanda's tiny Fourth of February airport is overwhelmed by new flights coming from across Africa as well as Europe, Asia and the Middle East. (AFP, BBC News)

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