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Cablegate: Usaid-Funded Transition Partner Accused of Violating

VZCZCXRO9796
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0100/01 0240940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240940Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9771
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000100

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND BPITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR FSHANKS
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: USAID-FUNDED TRANSITION PARTNER ACCUSED OF VIOLATING
SUDANESE NGO LAW

KHARTOUM 00000100 001.2 OF 002


KHARTOUM 91

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a USAID assistance
partner, will close out its program in Sudan on January 31, 2008.
After a week of negotiations with the Government of National Unity
(GNU) Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC) over disposition of
assets, DAI was told by HAC that it was in violation of Article 7 of
the Organization of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act and will be
prosecuted. According to DAI, HAC reportedly told DAI it is also
gathering evidence against USAID with the aim of closing down
USAID's programs in Sudan. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
BACKGROUND OF DAI CLOSE-OUT AND SEIZURE OF ASSETS
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (SBU) Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), an assistance partner
under USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives' (OTI), was
contracted to implement a small grants program in Sudan to help
create space for peaceful political change and for longer-term
development activities. Due to contractual issues, DAI is closing
out its offices and scheduled to leave Sudan on January 31, 2008.
Another assistance partner has been awarded a contract to carry out
OTI's mandate in Sudan.

3. (SBU) For more than a week, USAID and DAI have been in
negotiations with the HAC over disposition of DAI's assets,
including vehicles and equipment. (Note: This issue has been a
thorny one for NGOS throughout 2007 when closing out projects or
programs). In 2007, HAC pressured NGOs operating in Darfur to
include new language in technical agreements signed between the NGO
and the government to turn over all assets to HAC at the close of a
project. NGOs then sought donor advice, and USAID and other
international donors coordinated their approaches in responding to
this issue. End Note.) This marks the first time that a USAID
implementing partner has had to deal with the HAC on asset
disposition. Through these negotiations, USAID has sought to ensure
that DAI's assets can be transferred to USAID's other implementing
partners to continue USG-funded work as allowed by Sudanese law.
However, the Sudanese government has held that it has the right to
determine which organizations or government offices receive DAI's
assets.

4. (SBU) On January 17, HAC in El Fasher refused to grant exit visas
to DAI staff until DAI relinquished all of their assets in El Fasher
to HAC officials. (Note: Exit visas are required to leave the
country. End Note.) In order to get the remaining staff person
safely out of Darfur, USAID authorized DAI to turn over all
equipment. Assets are now with HAC in El Fasher.

5. (SBU) On January 19, HAC officials in Nyala entered the DAI
residential and office compound, where USAID field staff reside and
work, and informed USAID that it had been ordered to take DAI's
assets in Nyala as well. Upon hearing that DAI in Nyala had already
left the region, HAC officials said that they would wait for further
orders from Khartoum.

6. On January 21, USAID/Sudan Mission Director Patrick Fleuret had a
positive meeting with the HAC Commissioner in Khartoum, Hassabo
Abdel Rahman, to agree on steps to avoid such an incident as in El
Fasher in the future. On January 22, CDA Fernandez made the same
points to the new Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Hassabo
(reftel). Although no agreement was reached on the disposition of
the assets seized in El Fasher, the two sides agreed to send a team
with representatives from both HAC and USAID to El Fasher and Nyala
to survey the situation there. Hassabo also expressed his desire to
enter into a technical agreement with USAID. USAID participants
responded that they would be open to discussing a technical
agreement, but urged that the current matter of the equipment seized
from DAI would need to be resolved first.

------------------------------------------
MEETING BETWEEN HAC's NGO DIRECTOR AND DAI
------------------------------------------


KHARTOUM 00000100 002.2 OF 002


7. (SBU) On January 22, DAI's Chief of Party, who is head of DAI in
Sudan, was called into the HAC offices in Khartoum to discuss final
close-out of activities with the HAC NGO Director, Moutassim
Abulgassim (GOS Sources told Charge on January 23 that Abulgassim is
a NISS official placed at the HAC). According to DAI, Abulgassim
communicated three points: 1) DAI is in violation of Article 7 of
Sudan's humanitarian law. This is based on the allegations that DAI
has been providing large sums of money to non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) without consulting HAC or establishing
technical agreements (Note: Article 7 provides: "Donation and
fundraising for the organization's programmes shall be undertaken
though a project document to be approved by the Commission, as may
be prescribed by the Regulations." End Note.); 2) the Sudanese
government has "every right" to assume that DAI is supporting
opposition activities aimed at destabilizing the government, as well
as directing activities against the internal security of the state;
and 3) DAI, as the implementer of these activities, can and will be
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including imprisonment.


8. (SBU) According to DAI, the HAC Commissioner requested that
within 48 hours DAI resolve a labor dispute over severance packages
to outgoing staff, provide proof of procurements of commodities for
in-kind grants, write an official statement from DAI to USAID
reporting that DAI has been informed that it has violated Article 7
of Sudan's humanitarian law, and that DAI be prepared to send staff
to El Fasher and Nyala for handover of assets, if required to do so
by the HAC Commissioner. HAC communicated to DAI that if these
conditions were satisfied, then DAI would obtain exit permits from
Sudan.

9. (SBU) DAI further reports that Abulgassim stated, at the
conclusion of the meeting, that the Sudanese government is gathering
evidence to support its allegation that USAID is illegally meddling
in the internal affairs of the country with the intention to close
down USAID programs in Sudan. Abulgassim reportedly also stated
that the government was preparing a media campaign to that effect.
CDA will raise these allegations with the next senior Sudanese
official he meets.

--------------------
ONGOING DAI RESPONSE
--------------------

10. (SBU) DAI is working to comply with all HAC requests within the
48-hour time period. DAI has a country agreement signed with HAC to
implement its activities. As a matter of routine, DAI requires all
of its grantees to obtain HAC approval, which is documented in its
agreement with the grantee, of all events and activities that it
supports. As of January 23, DAI has only handed over assets in El
Fasher.

11. (SBU) Comment: We are very concerned over this escalation of the
asset disposition issue and administrative close-out of the DAI
program, and are working to ensure that the issue is resolved
quickly. Although the HAC reportedly just extended the moratorium
easing restrictions to humanitarian access (according to media
reports) for Darfur, we expect that the struggle over access to
Darfur will only escalate as UNAMID deploys more fully and western
NGOs seek to assist with census and elections preparations. As is
often the case in Sudan, the questions will be: how orchestrated is
this campaign of petty harassment, how far will they go and how
enshrined is it as Sudanese state policy?

FERNANDEZ

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