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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Angolan election pledge
Children in Caxito camp
Those displaced by war are unlikely to be home before any vote
By Justin Pearce in Luanda

Angola's Communications Minister Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto has said he hopes that elections can be held next year, 10 years after the country's first and only multi-party poll.

In an interview with the BBC, he said the government would do everything it could to create the conditions for elections in 2002.

 Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto
Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto: Stability is the key

A return to civil war following the 1992 election has prevented further polls from taking place, and there has been much speculation about when the next election will be.

Foreign observers have welcomed the idea of elections, but express doubts over whether the country will be stable enough for a free and fair vote in the foreseeable future, especially since hundreds of people each week are still being forced to flee their homes as a result of the fighting.

Displaced

Mr Neto said the government's concern was to put the country back on track in terms of, what he called, the consolidation of democracy, development and progress.

Asked whether the return of displaced people to their areas of origin was a necessary conditions for the holding of elections, the minister said that if this were a condition then it would take far too long to meet.

He said that stability would be the acceptable conditions for election, with displaced people, who number over three million, voting in the camps or cities in which they currently reside.

In the same interview, Mr Vaal Neto was asked what the government thought of the campaign for peace recently launched by the Catholic Church which challenged both the government and the Unita rebels to lay down their weapons.

He said that any effort towards peace from any institution was good for Angola and that the government also defends the principle of peace.

But he played down the significance of this new campaign by the Church and also reaffirmed the government's position that a military victory over Unita is possible.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | Africa
Angola's president to stand down
23 Aug 01 | Africa
Profile: Jose Eduardo dos Santos
25 Sep 01 | Africa
Unita hits Luanda power supply
13 Jun 01 | Africa
Savimbi: No end to war
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