Angolans Mark 31st Anniversary

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Angolan nationals resident in Namibia marked their country’s 31st independence anniversary in Windhoek last weekend. The event was a special one for Angolans, who, for the second time since 1961, are undergoing a period of relative peace and economic stability after a ruinous civil war. Several members of the diplomatic corps in Namibia joined the celebration. The coming year will be equally important for Angola, as free democratic elections will be held for the second time in the nation’s history. The elections have been delayed several times, but the government in Luanda has now decided on next year, Angolan Press AttachÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© in Namibia, AntÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚²nio Pimenta, confirmed to New Era. This follows the government’s ability to create suitable conditions to enter an era of democratic normality. The National Assembly recently approved the electoral package to rule the accomplishment of the next general elections in Angola. “Voters’ registration started today and will continue until January,” Pimenta said. Minister Counsellor of the Angolan Embassy in Namibia Antonio Ramos Coelho da Cruz during the celebration said although the 31 years of living as a free and sovereign state were marked, Angola’s independence just after its declaration was plunged into another atrocious conflict that lasted for more than 27 years. This conflict created a suffocating political and military instability countrywide. With the arrival of peace in the country, Da Cruz said, the country and its citizens are now going through a new stage of Angola’s history. “We can affirm without a mistake that the weapons have definitely been silenced and the possibility of returning to war is completely eliminated,” Da Cruz assured fellow countrymen and women. After the war, Angola is now faced with battles such as the fight against endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, impoverishment of the standards of living of all Angolans and the reconstruction of the basic sanitation, public service and transport infrastructure. “Due to government commitment, the achievements are already visible in Angola as well as the struggle to re-launch the national economy,” the minister counsellor stated. Reiterating Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ sentiments, Da Cruz said, “We are destined to pontificate in Africa and worldwide as an example of a people who had lived difficult moments but who knew how to raise the flag of harmony and have made from peace a choice to build their future…” Da Cruz also expressed gratitude towards the Namibian government and its people saying that the historical, cultural and brotherhood bonds that unite the two countries cannot be over-emphasized. Proof to that are the existing agreements between the two countries. Among the many is the agreement on the Joint Commission of Angola-Namibia and a Defence and Security Commission. He added that other commissions and projects are in the implementation phase especially with regard to the utilization of natural resources and the fighting of diseases such as polio and sleeping sickness. Angola is a country with about 14 million people. On behalf of the Namibian government, Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda supported Da Cruz’s views stating that the bilateral relations are solidly rooted in the common history of resistance against colonialism and apartheid. “We are greatly indebted and owe profound gratitude to the people of Angola, who fully embraced SWAPO and the people of Namibia during the liberation struggle for freedom and national independence until final victory was achieved,” Kaapanda said. He said that the two governments have continued to exchange views on different issues with the latest development involving the agreement on the abolishment of visas. This paves the way for increasing economic cooperation and interaction between the two countries and peoples. Kaapanda called on the private sectors of Angola and Namibia to seek mutually beneficial business opportunities and actively participate in the economic development and industrialization of both countries.