Press Release / Dec. 15, 1999

Angolan government cynically attempts to divert attention from Global Witness report.

The Angolan government is deliberately misrepresenting Global Witness’ report ‘A Crude Awakening’. The report highlights the failings of the Angolan Government in its handling of oil revenues, and the lack of transparency by oil companies in Angola, which have contributed to war-torn Angola’s economic and social problems. The report recommends that the Angolan government implement a policy of full transparency over state revenues and their deployment and that oil companies form a broad coalition with the IMF, the World Bank and the International Community to implement this policy.

“This response by the government is clearly intended as a smokescreen to divert attention from the findings contained within the report. We recommend that the Government read the report and then present a set of proposals to tackle the points raised, rather than wasting time trying to bully a small NGO that has raised legitimate concerns,” said Simon Taylor. “To suggest that Global Witness’ report is some part a UNITA plot just shows the desperation and paranoia of the Government. Obviously, they have forgotten about Global Witness’ report on the role of diamonds funding UNITA’s war effort, which the Government included on its web site.”

The current authoritarian use of state censorship on the independent press in Angola, further shows that the government has little interest in promoting and enhancing government accountability. This in turn should be of great concern to foreign governments and multinational companies. “It seems that the most transparent thing the Government is doing right now, is to show its contempt for press freedoms. If the Government is not ‘intimidated’ as it claims, then why is it making such an effort to prevent legitimate debate about the issues of clear public interest raised by the report?” said Taylor.