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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09LIBREVILLE239
2009-05-28 16:02:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Libreville
Cable title:  

GABON: ANTI-CORRUPTION NGO MEETS WITH SENIOR GOVERNMENT

Tags:   ECON  EFIN  PGOV  GB 
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VZCZCXRO5091
RR RUEHBZ RUEHMA
DE RUEHLC #0239/01 1481602
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281602Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1171
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1010
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 1001
RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE 0915
RUEHMA/AMEMBASSY MALABO
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LIBREVILLE 000239 

DEPT ALSO FOR AF/C LISA KORTE; PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER;
DEPT PASS FOR USAID AFR/WA NATALIE FREEMAN

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN PGOV GB
SUBJECT: GABON: ANTI-CORRUPTION NGO MEETS WITH SENIOR GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS

REF: (A) Libreville 0198
(B) 08 Libreville 173
(C) 08 Libreville 030
(D) 08 Libreville 018

--------
Summary
--------



1. (SBU) An international delegation from the NGO Publish What You
Pay (PWYP) met with senior Gabonese government officials recently to
discuss transparency in the oil, mining and timber industries and
alleged mistreatment of local PWYP officials. The delegation
reported that their meetings were generally positive, although it
appears that they may have avoided some of the more contentious
issues raised by their local affiliates. End Summary.



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


Alleged Mistreatment of local NGOs


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





2. (SBU) Transparency in the oil, mining, and timber sectors,
particularly the accuracy of revenue reporting, was the focus of the
PWYP delegation's discussions with the Prime Minister, the Minister
of the Interior, and other senior government officials. The
delegation was in Gabon April 27-30 and met with the Ambassador at
the conclusion of their trip.



3. (SBU) The visiting PWYP representatives also raised the alleged
mistreatment of their local associates, including the January 2008
suspension of PWYP-Gabon and the January 2009 imprisonment of
PWYP-Gabon coordinator Marc Ona and member George Mpaga (Refs. C and
D). Both men faced international travel bans until Ona's recent
trip to the United States to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize
(Ref. A).



4. (SBU) Although Ona and Mpaga accompanied the PWYP delegation to
its high-level meetings, they did not bring up the political
critiques that have gotten them into trouble with government
authorities over the past year, including concerns about control
over the military, succession politics, and other issues.



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


Civil Society Participation
In Transparency Initiative


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





5. (SBU) To date, PWYP-Gabon has been the leader of civil society
coordination and engagement in the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI). EITI collects, compares and
publishes data on production and revenue payments in Gabon's oil and
mining sectors, and is reviewing the possibility of such reporting
for the timber industry. EITI published three reports on Gabon to
date, each more comprehensive than the last.



6. (SBU) As the coordinator of PWYP-Gabon, and despite his political
problems, Ona was maintained as one of six civil society
representatives in the Interest Group. New members of the group
include a senior Roman Catholic cleric and journalist. Ona told us
that he is pleased with the caliber of his new colleagues.



7. (U) The PWYP delegation was led by Marie-Ange Kalenga,
coordinator of PWYP-Africa. The group also comprised Christian
Mounzeo, member of PWYP-Congo and African civil society
representative on the international EITI board; Michel Roy, member
of Catholic Relief Services and international NGO representative on
the EITI board; and Maroufa Diabira, member of PWYP-Mauritania.



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


Comment


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





8. (SBU) Gabon is considered a leader among African nations within
EITI and has made steady improvements in its revenue reporting from
the publication of its first report in December 2005 (Ref. B).
However, the country lost its seat on the international EITI board
because of the suspension of PWYP and other local NGOs in January
2008 (Refs. C and D), which the EITI board judged to be inconsistent
with the obligation to permit the active engagement of civil society
in public debate. If Gabon is to fulfill this requirement and be
recognized as an EITI compliant country, its leaders must establish
a secure place for PWYP and other civil society organizations on the
national landscape. End Comment.


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