3 February 2013

Angola: Government Suspends Universal Church

Photo: Euronews
File Photo:Tragedy Claims 13 Lives At Religious Year-End Mass in Angola.

Luanda — The Angolan Government Saturday in Luanda announced that it blames the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) for the incident of December 31 last year at Cidadela Desportiva Stadium that resulted in the death of people and decided to suspend its activity for 60 days.

The decision is contained in a note from the Aid Organs of the Presidency of the Republic.

According to the note, "in view of the seriousness of the facts that regrettably resulted in the loss of human lives, the Executive has decided that the matter of the case be referred to the Republic Attorney's Office for further investigation and consequent civil and criminal accountability."

The Aid Organs of the Presidency of the Republic further state that the Enquiry Commission appointed to establish the causes that led to the Cidadela Desportiva Stadium incident found that the incident was owed to the overcrowding of the inside and outside areas of the stadium, caused by the deceitful publicity contained in the slogan "The Day of the End - come an put an end to all problems in your life; disease, misery, debt, etc. Bring all your family."

The source adds that this deceitful publicity created within the faithful an enormous expectation to see their problems resolved, which attracted into the site of the event a large number of people, among elderlies, children and sick.

According to the note, the publicity used to mobilise the faithful was criminal and deceitful as, in terms of the article 14 and 16 of the Lei 9/02 - General Law on Publicity, it contained false information, capable of raising alarm to the public spirit and mislead them.

The probe also found that as a result of the massive concentration of people, various constraints were noted such as the overcrowding of the site ahead of the time set for the start of the vigil, disorderly parking inside, outside and in adjacent areas, which surpassed the expectations of the organisers and affected the action of the protection forces, including the National Police, Civil Protection Service, National Institute of Medical Emergency, Red Cross and others.

It was also found that despite indications from the Cidadela Complex management that the stadium could only hold 30,000 people, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God decided to accommodate at the site a total of 152,600 persons, without a notice to the concerned authorities.

The enquiry also established that the projection made by the UCKG regarding the number of people for the site was not realistic and erred in its calculations.

Another finding was that the bill announced the start of the event at 8:00 pm, but instead by 06:00 pm all spaces inside the stadium were fully crammed with people and all gates closed, except the VIP one and the number 6 toward which a considerable part of the crowd moved, causing a big pressure at the entrance.

On the other hand, the Aid Organs of the Presidency of the Republic Recommend that other churches like the " Igrejas Mundial do Poder de Deus", "Mundial do Reino de Deus", "Mundial Internacional", "Mundial da Promessa de Deus", "Mundial Renovada e Igreja Evangélica Pentecostal Nova Jerusalém", which are still to be recognised by the Angolan State, hold religious services and publicity, resorting to similar practices to those of the UCKG, should also be banned from any religious activity in the country.

It is also recommended that the ban should be monitored by the ministries of Interior, Justice and Human Rights, Culture, Administration of Territory and Social Communication and the provincial, until the investigation by the Republic Attorney Office comes to a conclusion.

Meanwhile, the concerned ministerial departments are instructed to review the existing legislation, particularly the law 2/04 of May 21 on the Freedom of Conscience, Warship and Religion, the Law 16/91 of May 11 on Right to Gather and Demonstrate and the Law 9/02 on Publicity, the Presidential Decree 111/11 of May 31 on Shows and Public Entertainment and create norms that regulate the holding of religious services out of temples.

In view of the above mentioned, the Angolan Executive appeals to the faithful of the churches in respect and the population in general to remain calm and fully comply with the decision made.

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