Parliament Passes Law On Freedom of Conscience

The Angolan Parliament on Tuesday here approved the draft law on the exercise of freedom of conscience of cult and of religion, with 134 favourable votes, two abstentions and none against, during a session chaired by its Speaker, Roberto de Almeida.

The document, presented by the Minister of Justice, Paulo Tjipilica, aims to regulate, in a specific way, the practice of constitutionally consacrated rights on cult and religious practices.

The diploma, comprising 20 articles and four chapters, prompted great debate having the participants agreed in regulating the practice of cult and to put and end to the proliferation of new churches.

According to the Minister, his sector has officially recorded 83 churches or religious congregations, in Angola, till the year 2002, whereas 880 others await legalization.

The Parliament's Commission On Constitutional and Juridical Affairs says the new Bill constitutes a diploma capable of moderating the appearance and proliferation of churches and associations with religious nature.

"Some churches practice rites contrary to public order and the national interest and they don't do more, but to explore the natural conscience of the religious feeling of the Angolan people with profitable purposes".

On the other hand, The MPs unanimously approved a cooperation accord between the Parliaments of Angola and Congo, meant to strengthen cultural, friendship, fraternal and solidarity ties.

They also passed five conventions, namely related to the International Coffee Organisation; the International Civil Aviation; Research, Development and Training in the area of Science and Technology; Technical Assistance by the International Agency of Atomic Energy and the last one the Rapid Notification of Nuclear Accidents. During the session, chaired by the Parliament Speaker, Roberto de Almeida, the Deputies got informed about the execution of the 2003 Assembly's budget.

Before the session, the presidency introduced the first Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Joao Lourenço, elected for this post during the last session, in replacement of Juliao Mateus Paulo "Dino Matross", the current MPLA Secretary-General.