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Angolan public television resumes coverage of UNITA activities

Angolan public television stations said this Thursday that they will resume coverage of the activities of UNITA, the largest opposition party, after receiving guarantees of protection for journalists in their political activities.

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An understanding between Televisão Pública de Angola, TV Zimbo and União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) was reached at a meeting promoted by the Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technology and Media (Minttics), after the President, João Lourenço, called on Wednesday for dialogue.

Minttics then addressed an invitation to UNITA to overcome the "atmosphere of crispness", stressing the need to "create conditions of animosity and tolerance that reestablish the professional relationship between the parties (...) and in benefit of the full realization of the constitutional right to inform and be informed".

At issue is the announcement by the two television stations to boycott the activities of UNITA, while its management did not present a public apology, for an alleged aggression of journalists, during a demonstration, last Saturday, of the largest opposition party, and in the aftermath there was an exchange of communications between the parties.

Speaking to the press at the end of the meeting, UNITA secretary-general Álvaro Daniel said that the communiqués created a climate less good for the political, social and emotional environment that is intended, at a time when the country is heading towards 46 years of independence and 20 years of peace.

"At a time when we are only a few months away from the next elections. The people want to go to the elections calm, in an environment of acceptance of the difference and of an open debate, a debate of ideas about what we should do to develop our country in several aspects, in the economy, in politics, and of democracy itself", affirmed Álvaro Daniel.

According to UNITA's secretary-general, it was transmitted at the meeting that "the big problem is not the uneasiness that was created with these two television networks", but rather "an uneasiness that has been dragging on", having a dialogue deficit that allowed things to reach that point.

Álvaro Daniel stressed that there is an understanding that the networks will continue to cover the party's initiatives, because it is a public organ and that everyone will work "so that in cases like this, or in cases of agglomerations, the lives of professionals and non-professionals will be preserved".

"This is the guarantee that was assumed here and we are all going to work for this, the television stations' management and us as a political party," he indicated.

In his turn, the Secretary of State for Social Communication, Nuno Carnaval, classified as very positive the meeting, in which he appealed and recommended the organizations to assure the accomplishment of a constitutional right, which is to inform and form the citizens, without distinction of parties.

"They should cover the activities, give treatment to the information of all political parties, organizations, civil society and especially the institutional programming of the Government," he stressed.

Nuno Carnaval considered that in this phase, "a sensitive moment", the media plays a prominent role, irreplaceable, in the construction and consolidation of the democratic state and the rule of law.

"We register this concern and with great satisfaction the assurance of the UNITA party leadership of the need to safeguard the physical integrity of the media professionals, of greater commitment and engagement in the interaction (...) so that the media can be increasingly plural and exempt in what are inherent issues to the participation and inclusion of all," he stressed.

In his turn, the director of TV Zimbo, Amílcar Xavier, said that the decision to block the activities of UNITA was taken after hearing the editorial board and the direction of information, and it was "the indignant journalists who said they would no longer cover acts of this kind, because their physical integrity was at stake.

"The guarantees were given by UNITA in this meeting, there was reasonableness, good sense", said Amílcar Xavier.

The administrator for the Content Area of TPA, Neto Júnior, said that the meeting served to "break down walls and build a bridge of dialogue" between TPA and UNITA.

"But the fundamental thing here is that guarantees are given to protect the physical and moral integrity of journalists in the context of journalistic coverage in political activity promoted by the UNITA party," he said.

"This is the guarantee that TPA would like to have had and has, starting, of course, to send its journalists to all activities, realizing that these journalists will leave this activity with the guarantee of their physical and moral integrity," he added.

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