LUANDA (Jan. 4) XINHUA - Angolans are praying that the new year of 2000 will open up broad prospects for the country's peace process and economic development.
"We feel hopeful about the year 2000. We Angolans expect a durable peace and a stable social-economic situation in the coming century," said Joao dos Santos, a middle-ranking public servant working for a governmental department.
During the past year, the southern African country has witnessed recrudesced civil war, grave humanitarian crisis, collapsed economy and spreading epidemic diseases. A large number of persons were displaced and driven to desperation.
However, with the progress made by the Armed Forces of Angola (FAA) in the central highland and south border areas traditionally controlled by the rebels led by Jonas Savimbi, most Angolans believe that peace is approaching and the economic construction will be soon restarted.
According to Angolan Planning Minister Ana Dias Lourenco, her ministry will in the year 2000 give top priority to the implementation of the program on the national reconstruction aiming to rehabilitate the economy.
She said that in the new year, Angola will benefit from its relative macro-economic stability in 1999 and focus on improving the living conditions of the population.
"Angola has all elements for further economic development but a peaceful atmosphere," she said, adding that Angola, the second largest oil-producing country in Africa, is rich in diverse natural resources such as diamond reserve, wood, petroleum and natural gas.
Meanwhile, Angolan Minister of Hotel and Tourism Jorge Valentim considered that Angola, a country with abundant scenic spots, should have attracted a lot of tourists.
"Angola is very beautiful. I'd like to see a lot of tourists on the streets of Luanda from all around the world," said Jose Pinto, a vagabond child begging for food all day long.
The Angolan capital city Luanda, built in a cozy bay of the Atlantic Ocean decorated with tall and upright palm trees, was considered in 1970s as one of the most beautiful capitals of the developing countries.
The magnificent view of the Angolan central plateau, dotted here and there with the gigantic monkey bread trees, had also attracted many foreign visitors.
In the new year, the Angolan government is determined to revive all these. The country has begun to rehabilitate its industrial and agricultural productions, with the new program called Self-sufficient Agricultural Production, strongly promoted by the central and provincial governments.
With the help of international organizations and local governments, Angolan peasants have got seeds and agricultural utensils to produce potato and corn, which will help the country improve its traditional food regime of papaya and manioc.
As for foreign investment, Angola absorbed in 1999 some three billion U. S. dollars from abroad, ranking the third among African countries. It is expected that the country will attract 19 billion U.S. dollars in the coming four to five years.
However, the war-torn country still has a long way to go in its search for peace and development.
Although the government troops are closing in on the smashed rebels hiding in forest areas, they have not yet captured the crucial person, namely Jonas Savimbi, chairman of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
The existence of Jonas Savimbi in UNITA will undoubtedly constitute a grave threat to the country's peace process, analysts here said.
Copyright (c) 2000 Comtex Scientific
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/04/2000 06:45:00