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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02ABUJA1027
2002-03-28 17:06:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIA: NEPAD MEETING SIDESTEPS ZIMBABWE

Tags:  PREL PGOV PHUM EAID ZI NI 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001027 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/07
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EAID ZI NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: NEPAD MEETING SIDESTEPS ZIMBABWE


CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER. REASON 1.5 (D.)




1. (C) Summary: Despite high-level attendance
(including nine Heads of State), the March 26 NEPAD
Summit did not produce any dramatic developments; the
meeting was basically a planning session. The final
communique was silent on Zimbabwe. However, Summit
discussions and public statements by key participants
criticized the West for being more concerned about
that country than other African states, including
chronic trouble spots, and for threatening to withhold
cooperation from NEPAD due to disagreements between
the West and Africa over how to handle Zimbabwe's
political crisis. The Summit reviewed draft action
plans on Political Governance and Economic Governance,
both with peer review mechanisms. Draft plans were
also considered in the critical areas of Agriculture,
Infrastructure, Capital Flows, and Human Development
(Health and Education). The draft plans are not
scheduled to be finalized until July, which will be
too late to inform G-8 discussions on Africa during
the June meeting in Canada. End Summary.




2. (C) During a luncheon hosted by the Canadian High
Commissioner, Ambassador Jeter got a read-out of the
Summit from Nigerian officials seconded to the NEPAD
secretariat: Ambassador Isaac Aluko Alokun, Sola

SIPDIS
Akinabe, and Sunday Dogonyaro. (With Canada hosting
the G-8, Prime Minister Chretien is scheduled to
arrive in Abuja next week for talks with Obasanjo and
other African Heads of State to discuss the
relationship between NEPAD and the contemplated G-8
Action Plan for Africa.)




--------------------------


ZIMBABWE -- TOO HOT AND PREMATURE TO HANDLE!


--------------------------






3. (C) Although the turbulence of Zimbabwe's political
crisis loomed over the conference, the Summit
communique does not mention the country. However,
Zimbabwe was discussed on the margins. According to
the Nigerian trio at the luncheon, the discussion on
Zimbabwe was awkward, at times difficult. Some Heads
of State were piqued by the attention the West
focused on Zimbabwe, claiming egregious political
events in other African states received but a fraction
of the glare directed at Harare. Angola was often
cited as an example. The Summiteers thought the
attention was not due to any objective standard but
because of the UK's patronage of the country's white
minority. Almost everyone criticized the pace of
Zimbabwean land reform and the UK role in it.






4. (C) Several leaders argued the inappropriateness
of raising Zimbabwe at this forum since the Mugabe
government had not yet joined NEPAD. With few
exceptions, the Summiteers did not want NEPAD, at such
an early stage in its development, to enmesh itself in
this controversy. Here, the participants had a
procedural out.






5. (C) As the communique indicates, the document
creating the African Peer Review Mechanism is a draft
that needs to be finalized at the next meeting of the
Peer Review Steering Committee. This meeting is
several months away. Because the peer review
mechanism is still a work in progress, Summiteers who
did not want to condemn Harare argued that
consideration of Zimbabwe was premature and improper
because there was no agreed mechanism by which to
conduct the review. During a rather heated exchange
between the Algerian and Portuguese Ambassadors at a
March 27 dinner Ambassador Jeter also attended, the
Algerian expressed consternation at what he termed
Western attempts to link NEPAD's viability to
Zimbabwe. He claimed that resolving political crises
like Zimbabwe was not the main thrust of NEPAD. In
any event, Zimbabwe was not ripe for discussion until
the peer review mechanism had been adopted. This
position, he said, would be explained by the African
leaders at the G-8 Summit.(Comment: The subtext of the
Nigerian trio and the Algerian envoy's statements was
that most participants opposed discussion of Zimbabwe
because they did not want to be seen as succumbing to
Western pressure. Obasanjo struck this tone in a
public statement made on the eve of the NEPAD Summit,
which Ambassador Aluko Alokun said grew out of
Obasanjo's frustrations at the London Commonwealth
meeting. In a not so oblique reference to Zimbabwe,
Obasanjo criticized the West for threatening to
distance itself from NEPAD because of dissatisfaction
with the conduct of one single African country.
Obasanjo claimed this pressure was, in effect, an
attempt to "take "NEPAD away from Africa." End
Comment.)






6. (C) The NEPAD secretariat officials at the luncheon
explained that the Heads of State did not view NEPAD
as a new organization but an initiative under the
aegis of the OAU/AU. Once the peer review mechanism
was finalized by NEPAD it would go to the OAU for
final adoption. Only when adopted by the OAU, would it
have any binding force. Currently, the basic outline
for the review mechanism calls for a technical
committee in NEPAD to assess members' good governance
and social development against agreed upon standards.
Based on these assessments, the technical committee
will prepare country reports on member-states.
Actions against misbehaving or non-performing states,
including sanctions, are to be decided, through a
political process, at the Head of State level.
(Comment: The scenario painted by the NEPAD staff
assumes universal acceptance of the review mechanism.
The legal status of the mechanism, should any OAU/AU
member oppose its adoption as an unwarranted
interference in domestic affairs, is a question that
may not have been asked or answered at the Summit.
End Comment.)




--------------------------


A NEW APPROACH, BUT SOME OLD RHETORIC


--------------------------






7. (SBU) There was noticeably more West-bashing
emanating from the conference hall than at the
previous NEPAD Summit in Abuja last October.
President Obasanjo set the stage in a March 25 public
statement. After meeting with OAU/AU Secretary
General Amara Essy, Obasanjo chastised Western nations
for expressing "warm words" but not providing any
concrete assistance on debt relief. He vowed that
NEPAD would be the product of African leadership, not
the dictates of others.




8. (C) A discordance, critical of the West, has been
noticeable in Obasanjo's public statements during the
past few weeks. Part of this is due to the
disagreement over Zimbabwe that, at times became an
emotionally charged issue for Obasanjo. Also,
Obasanjo is clearly frustrated that, for all of his
lobbying and visibility on the world stage, coupled
with his decision to stake out a basically pro-Western
foreign policy, he has not landed more tangible
assistance for Nigeria, particularly on his pet issue
of debt relief. Additionally, domestic pressures now
are escalating as elections approach and the economy
sputters. Obasanjo's nature is to blame others when
the chips do not fall as he hoped. Nigeria has come
up short but, in his mind, the responsibility belongs
to others. Usually, he blames domestic opponents.
This time, the confluence of Zimbabwe, the UN
Monterrey conference, and NEPAD made the creditor
Western democracies too attractive a collective target
to ignore. Additionally, the early March suspension of
a formal IMF-GON program, billed here as Nigeria
showing the IMF the exit door in order to develop a
home-grown reform package fits into the anti-West
posturing.




9. (C) Obasanjo's outburst might be the result of
temporary pique due to this convergence of events. He
often deviates from script when annoyed and these
forays sometimes yield regrettable statements.
However, with political and economic pressures
mounting around him, it is likely this rhetoric will
continue.




--------------------------


WHAT NEXT FOR NEPAD


--------------------------








10. (C) In addition to the Political Governance action
plan (Political Peer Review) there is also an Economic
and Corporate Governance plan and Peer Review
Mechanism intended to encourage governmental best
practices in economics and finance in order promote
private sector growth and investment. Also, to promote
"fast track" development, the Summit reviewed action
plans in the following sectors:




-- Agriculture and Market Access;
-- Infrastructure (Information and Communication
Technologies, Water and Sanitation, Transportation and
Energy);
--Capital Flows; and
-- Human Development (Education and Health,
particularly HIV/AIDS and other communicable
diseases).




11. (C) The NEPAD Secretariat officials stated that
the Political Governance draft action plan was more
developed than the other draft plans but none was
complete. They did not expect completion and final
adoption until July. The next NEPAD Summit will be in
Dakar in April. The focus of that meeting will be
attracting private sector buy-in to the NEPAD process.




--------------------------


NEPAD AND THE G-8


--------------------------






12. (C) The Canadian High Commissioner expressed
concern that schedule for finalizing the papers would
make it difficult to hold meaningful discussions
regarding NEPAD with the G-8 this year. The G-8
wanted to roll out its own Plan of Action for Africa
at the June Summit in Canada. As part of this process,
the G-8 hoped to meld as much of NEPAD into its
deliberations as possible. However, the July date for
final adoption of the NEPAD action plans will be too
late to inform G-8 discussions in June.




13. (U) FYI: the following Heads of State attended
the conference:


Abdelaziz Bouteflika - Algeria


Denis Sassou Nguesso - Republic of the Congo


Joaquim Alberto Chissano - Mozambique


Olusegun Obasanjo - Nigeria


Paul Kagame - Rwanda


Abdoulaye Wade - Senegal


Thabo Mbeki - South Africa


Meles Zenawi - Ethiopia


Anerood Jugnauth - Mauritius


In addition, Gabon Vice President Di Ndinge, Egyptian
Minister for Foreign Relations and International
Cooperation El-Naga, Malian Foreign Minister Sidibe,
OAU Assistant Secretary Generals Lawrence Agubuzu and
Said Djinnit, as well as officials from UNECA, ADB and
FAO also attended the Summit.




--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------






14. (C) There were no major breakthroughs at this
Summit which, beside the Zimbabwe issue which was not
a formal agenda item, was more procedural than
substantive. Clearly our belief that the Summit should
have made a statement about the Zimbabwean political
crisis was opposed by many of the Summiteers and it
may be months before the Governance Peer Review
Mechanism is in place. In the interim, we should work
behind the scenes with some of the prime architects
behind NEPAD so that Zimbabwe is subject to review
when the time is ripe under the NEPAD schedule.


JETER