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Angola's $370m oil plan stirs up activists

Luanda - The Angolan government yesterday unveiled a $370 million (R2.4 billion) plan to develop infrastructure in the oil-rich Cabinda enclave, in a bid to win over a region that has long pushed for self-determination.

It said the plan, to be implemented over six years, would be financed by the national budget and taxes from oil revenues in sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.

"The development plan to Cabinda amounts to $370 million and includes investments in energy and water, health, education and professional training, transports, fisheries, environment, hotels and services," the government said.

Cabinda rights activists were sceptical of the plan, saying they wanted the government to combine talks on a comprehensive plan on the future of the enclave.

"For us, dialogue is a big priority if the Luanda government really wants to develop Cabinda," said Agostinho Chicaia, executive secretary of the Cabinda rights group Mpalabanda.

Cabindans have pushed for the right to self-determination for decades, arguing that the enclave, separated from the rest of Angola by a narrow coastal strip, had its own distinct identity and culture.

They say they have been illegally occupied since independence in 1975, when colonial power Portugal threw Cabinda in with Angola. Despite the oil, many of Cabinda's 300 000 people live in dire poverty.

After the recent civil war the rest of Angola is now at peace, but the conflict in Cabinda has continued, claiming thousands of lives.

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