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Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with lifting sanctions on the Angola rebels; and what the prospects are for holding free elections in Angola by 2005. [113642]

All sanctions on UNITA were lifted on 9 December 2002, by the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1448 (2002). The US, EU and others have updated their domestic regulations to reflect this, or are in the process of doing so.The Government of Angola have not yet announced a date for elections, but the focus is on 2004–05. Before elections can be held, it is essential that proper electoral processes are put in place, including voter registration and education, to ensure that elections are transparent, free and fair.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with (a) security sector reform and (b) better economic and political governance in Angola. [113643]

There has been little progress, as yet, on Security Sector Reform. Our embassy in Luanda has had preliminary contacts with the Angolan Defence Ministry to see whether UK expertise here, especially in peacekeeping, would be welcome. We are awaiting an Angolan response.The Government of Angola (GoA) has taken some steps towards improving economic and political governance and transparency. These include an audit of the Central Bank; placing customs administration under Crown Agents; undertaking an Oil Diagnostic Study by KPMG; and reviewing the public procurement system. As part of its Technical Support Strategy for Angola, the World bank is currently conducting a Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review. The UK plans to help in this. The review will make recommendations later this year. The GoA needs to strengthen public finance management and macro economic policy to reduce economic instability. The UK is encouraging Angola to take further measures to improve oil sector transparency by participating in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), launched by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in 2002. We have also provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Planning, following a request to help prepare its Interim-Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP).