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Cablegate: Bangladesh Reports On Un Democracy Fund

VZCZCXRO2406
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0412 0710906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120906Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3502
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9722
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1537
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7817
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 8975
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2525
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA

UNCLAS DHAKA 000412

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
PLEASE PASS TO RACHEL LEATHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID KDEM KPAO PGOV PREL UN NGO OIIP BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH REPORTS ON UN DEMOCRACY FUND

REFTEL STATE 019783

1. SUMMARY. One project in Bangladesh was awarded under the United
Nations Democracy Fund, the "Clean Candidate, Clean Election
Campaign, 2006" proposed by Brotee Samaj Kallyan Sangstha. The
project is on hold, however, because the elections scheduled for
January 22, 2007 in Bangladesh were cancelled on January 11, 2007.
No new date for elections has been set yet. No funding has been
disbursed. Brotee remains active in other projects, and expects to
continue with this program once new election dates are set. END
SUMMARY.

UNDEF IN BANGLADESH

2. The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) generated substantial
interest In Bangladesh when the first call for proposals went out in
2006. At least six proposals were submitted by Bangladeshi
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and by international NGOs with
a significant presence in Bangladesh. One grant was ultimately
awarded to a proposal entitled, "Clean Candidate, Clean Election
Campaign, 2006 in Bangladesh." This lone recipient was Brotee Samaj
Kallyan Sangstha (Brotee), which loosely translates from Bengali as
"Commitment to Social Welfare Organization." Due to Bangladesh's
turbulent political situation, however, the UN Secretary General in
early January 2007 made the decision to delay the release of funds
for elections-related technical assistance. The national elections
scheduled for January 22, 2007 were suspended indefinitely on
January 11, 2007. There is as yet no new date for elections and the
project is currently on hold. No funds were disbursed.

BROTEE'S PROPOSAL

3. Brotee planned to carry out a series of voter awareness
activities to give voters greater access to information both on the
electoral process in general and on the candidates in particular.
The hope was that increased exposure to public scrutiny would
enhance the number of "clean" and "competent" candidates. The
period leading up to the January 11 suspension of elections was
quite volatile, punctuated by violence and strikes on an almost
daily basis. This environment severely restricted most of the
country's normal activities including Brotee's proposed campaign.

BROTEE AND UNDEF TODAY

4. The local United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office
reports it is well informed on both UNDEF and the Brotee project in
particular. UNDP is currently in contact with Brotee and the UNDEF
to find ways to facilitate this campaign even under the drastically
changed circumstances currently present in Bangladesh. Brotee
itself appears to have a good working relationship with UNDEF as
well. Since the project was postponed before substantial work
began, there are no project outputs or outcomes to report on. A new
project implementation schedule along with an updated evaluation
plan will be developed once a new election schedule is released and
when the UNDEF decides how they plan to move forward under whatever
new national election structure is created.

LOOKING FORWARD TO NEW ELECTIONS

5. Although the UNDEF sponsored Brotee project never had a chance
to get off the ground, their underlying proposal for a campaign
towards "clean" candidates remains important and in fact seems far
more likely to receive support under the country's current
circumstances than if it had been carried out in the environment
prevailing before the recently aborted elections. The current
general perception is that the newly re-constituted Bangladesh
Election Commission, the citizenry in general, and to some extent
even the major political parties, are now much more receptive to
this type of initiative. Brotee remains engaged with other
development partners on elections related issues and is prepared to
continue with this proposal once the timing is deemed appropriate.


6. Post looks forward to the UNDEF considering funding additional
projects in Bangladesh in the future. There is a high level of
donor coordination in-country which facilitates greater programmatic
impact of programs like future UNDEF supported projects.

PASI

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