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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Angola marks one year of peace
Women and children
Angolans are looking for prosperity now war is over
Tens of thousands of people have gathered in a sports stadium in the Angolan capital, Luanda, to mark the first anniversary of the peace accord between the government and the Angolan rebel group, Unita.

An ecumenical service was held at the stadium , attended by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, government officials, politicians and church leaders.

At 1200 local time (1100 GMT) on Friday , a minute's silence was observed in honour of the victims of the civil war.

An estimated 500,000 people were killed and tens of thousands more were displaced during the 27-year civil conflict.

"This is a great day, now we have peace. We have struggled for a long time for this, and now, thanks to the Lord, we have peace. Angola has changed, it's changed a lot", a woman named Hortense said.

Weekend of revelling

The BBC'S Justin Pearce in Luanda says the government has planned a long weekend of celebrations - but some people feel they have yet to see the benefits of peace.

He reports a heavy military and police presence on the streets.

Unita soldiers
Former Unita soldiers have handed in their weapons

People may be able to move more freely around the country as a result of peace, but for the people of Luanda, the end of the war has brought few visible benefits, he says.

A 23-year-old man called Bartolomeu told the BBC: "Angola has not changed. This peace has not led to better living conditions. Our president needs to rebuilt Angola. Angola has been destroyed".

A statement from the government acknowledged that it was impossible to rebuild in 12 months what had been destroyed in 30 years.

Our correspondent says the ruling MPLA party used the goodwill generated by Friday's anniversary celebrations to hand out portraits of President dos Santos.

Portuguese-speaking artists, including the Brazilian romantic singer Roberto Carlos, is expected to entertain at a concert in the stadium and at an exclusive club.




SEE ALSO:
Unita leader 'stepping down'
04 Feb 03  |  Africa
Hunger spectre over Angola
25 Nov 02  |  Africa
Angolans celebrate peace deal
05 Apr 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Angola
05 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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