UN chief urges Angola to cut wealth gap
Lisbon - The UN chief urged the government of oil-producing Angola to do more to reduce the large gap between the country's wealthy and poor, a move he said would increase stability and unity in the sub-Saharan African nation.
Angola is Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, but an estimated two-thirds of its population of 18 million people live on less than $2 per day.
"Angola has great wealth, but it also has large gaps between rich and poor," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in comments published on the UN website late on Monday.
Ban was speaking at the end of a 48-hour visit to Angola's capital, Luanda, during which he met long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other officials.
"The government should do more to strengthen the social fabric by promoting social equity and ensuring a better distribution of income," he added. "This is a matter of stability, prosperity and justice."
Rights watchdogs have long accused Dos Santos' government of mismanaging oil revenues and doing too little to fight widespread graft and corruption.
In December, New-York based Human Rights Watch urged the government to account for $32bn in missing funds thought to be linked to state oil firm Sonangol, which were spent or transferred from 2007 through 2010.
The government has denied the funds are missing and said the discrepancy resulted from insufficient record-keeping. The IMF said it expects the government to account for most of the discrepancy.
Dos Santos's ruling MPLA party won a 27-year civil war against Unita in 2002 and crushed its rivals in a 2008 election.
The president has been in power since 1979 - a tenure that makes him the continent's second longest serving leader after Equitorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - and is expected to lead his party in a general election in the third quarter of this year.
Opposition parties have accused the government of trying to control the electoral process by stripping the national elections committee of any real power.
Ban said he expects the election to be carried out in a credible and transparent way, but warned that the opposition must be given freedom, especially in the run-up to the ballot.
"All should have the political space they need to operate freely, he said.