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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter at the airport on leaving Angola

Luanda, Angola, 27 February 2012

Boa noite.  [“Good evening.”]

I came to Luanda to show my support for the Angolan people and to strengthen the United Nations’ partnership with Angola.

I have had very important meetings with government officials, leaders of civil society, and people in Angola’s communities and Parliamentary leaders.

In my meeting with His Excellency President [José Eduardo] Dos Santos and His Excellency Foreign Minister [Georges Rebelo] Chikoti and other ministers and senior officials, we agreed that the United Nations and Angola can work together for this country and the region.

I see Angola emerging as an international leader.

Angola is chair of the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries.

I hope Angola will do even more on the international scene, in cooperation with the United Nations.

Angola knows from experience the value of United Nations peacekeeping.

I asked the Angolan Government to contribute to our operations. Angola has a well-trained military and air assets like helicopters that we urgently need to protect civilians.

I hope that Angola will join other countries that once hosted UN peacekeeping operations and now proudly contribute and serve under our blue flag.

I met with the Speaker of Parliament, the Honourable Antonio Paulo Kassoma.

I had hoped to meet with Parliamentary leaders, including the opposition. My message to them is: You play an important role in strengthening inclusive and participatory democracy.

This grows even more crucial as the elections approach.

I did have the chance to meet with members of civil society.  I praised their invaluable contribution to progress in Angola. These groups will be even more important as Angola prepares for elections later this year.

All should have the political space they need to operate freely.

Today I had the privilege to help launch this year’s Polio Campaign.

This is part of our effort to help Angola reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Progress has been slow in some key areas.

We have to do more for Angola’s poor. We have to end unnecessary deaths of Angolan mothers and children. We have to give this country’s people the hope and opportunities they deserve.

Angola has great wealth, but it also has large gaps between rich and poor. 

The Government should do more to strengthen the social fabric by promoting social equity and ensuring a better distribution of income. This is a matter of stability, prosperity and justice.

It is time to close those gaps so that the whole country can advance as one.         

A stronger, more equitable and more democratic Angola can be an even greater leader in this region and the world.

Muito Obrigado. [“Thank you.”]

Q:  I have two questions for Mr. Secretary-General. My first question is an assessment of the role Angola has been playing in the settlement of conflicts in Africa in general and in the Great Lakes region in particular. What expectations can we have about seeing Portuguese being adopted as a working language in the United Nations?

SG: Thank you. For your first question, when I had meetings with Angolan leaders, I commended the very courageous and visionary leadership of President Dos Santos in bringing this country out of two decades of war towards stability. I am here to congratulate the people and Government of Angola, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the end of war. Angola has come such a long way towards this political stability.

Now, Angola has built up from there. Angola has emerged as a regional and international leader by assuming the role of the Presidency of SADC and also the [Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries], [becoming a] member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, and having served also as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, now also having served as chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. They are all very important and [show the] capacity and leadership role Angola has been playing. What I have been asking of the Angolan President and Foreign Minister is that while Angola once was the recipient of UN peacekeeping operations, now it is time that Angola should contribute more proactively to peace and security areas by contributing their soldiers, well-trained and disciplined soldiers, and particularly helicopters and other air assets. This is the one [area in] which they can [contribute]. We have been discussing the situation in Guinea-Bissau and the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Madagascar. These are the areas where Angola can play a very important, influential and political leadership role together with the United Nations. This will help not only in the stability of this region, but it will also enhance the political visibility and leadership role of Angola.

For your second question, about the Portuguese language as a possible official language of the United Nations, this has to be decided by the Member States. I am aware of such aspirations of many Portuguese-speaking countries to see this to be used as one of the official languages, but this is not what the Secretary-General decides. Member States should agree on these matters. Thank you very much.

Q:  [inaudible on elections]

SG: You have conducted elections in 2008, and I am confident that the Angolan Government and people will be able to carry out this election in a credible and transparent and democratic way. The United Nations is ready to provide any technical assistance as necessary and if requested by the Angolan Government. We have accumulated knowledge and expertise where we have provided such technical assistance to many countries which have conducted elections. Thank you very much.