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Cablegate: Senegal Restarts Mcc Effort with Positive Steps

VZCZCXRO9464
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0183 0461249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151249Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0034
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC

UNCLAS DAKAR 000183

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/EPS AND AF/W

E.O.12958
TAGS: EAID KMCA PREL ECON MCC SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL RESTARTS MCC EFFORT WITH POSITIVE STEPS

REF: 07 DAKAR 2144 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary: After four years of missteps and missed
opportunities, Senegal is again pursuing a Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC) compact, with some positive initial efforts.
Responding to MCC criteria for re-engagement, Senegal has
established a new counterpart agency and has agreed to work together
on examining the country's economic constraints with an eye to a new
proposal. Prime Minister Soumare has offered his personal
assurances to Charge to help keep the effort on track. End
summary.

A POSITIVE RESPONSE
-------------------
2. (SBU) In a December 20, 2007, letter to President Wade, John J.
Danilovich, CEO of the MCC, confirmed that Senegal remains eligible
for Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) funding in 2008. Ambassador
Danilovich also outlined a number of steps, with clear time-lines,
that the GOS should take in order to effectively pursue a possible
compact. President Wade replied positively in a January 25 letter,
stating that his administration will take the steps necessary to
create a proposal that meets all MCC criteria. President Wade also
indicated that Prime Minister Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare will lead
Senegal's effort. In a January 30 letter, the Prime Minister
confirmed Senegal's willingness to pursue a compact as outlined by
Ambassador Danilovich and noted that the GOS was already
establishing a counterpart agency, to be headed by Mr. Ibrahima Dia,
who was the number two official at Senegal's previous counterpart
agency, the AMPMD.

3. (SBU) On February 4, Economic Counselor met with Mr. Dia to
congratulate him on his appointment and to encourage him to not lose
any time in standing up his organization. Dia, whom we assess in a
favorable light from his time at the AMPMD, was knowledgeable,
organized, and anxious to host a team from the MCC in order to
outline the criteria for a new economic constraints analysis. He
had already hired most of his core staff and would soon be in a
fully functional office. When asked if the government had any
preconceived ideas for a new compact, Dia said that there were
always ideas floating around (including one we've frequently heard
mentioned lately to construct rainwater retention basins). He
added, however, that his mandate was to work with the MCC to
consider proposals based on new analysis, not previous ideas. At
the same time, he mentioned that, in his view, a compact focusing on
boosting rural incomes would be of tremendous benefit to the
country.

PRIME MINISTER SOUMARE IS ON-BOARD
----------------------------------
4. (SBU) The Charge d'Affaires met with Prime Minister Soumare on
February 13 to acknowledge the positive responses sent by President
Wade and the PM. The CDA underscored that the MCC is ready to work
in collaboration with the GOS, but having failed to conclude a
compact on two proposals after significant effort and cost, this
current effort was vitally important if the GOS was indeed serious
about receiving MCC funding. PM Soumare expressed his complete
agreement. He demonstrated an understanding of how MCC works,
confirmed the government's willingness to support the chronology
that Ambassador Danilovich outlined, and offered his intention to
follow the program's progress at each step. The PM also introduced
Mr. Diatourou Ndiaye, Economist and Special Advisor to the Prime
Minister, who is the PM's designated point-person for the MCC.
Soumare said that if there were any problems with the effort that
Mr. Ndiaye needs to know so that it can be reported back to the PM.


COMMENT
-------
5. (SBU) At this point, we are guardedly optimistic that Senegal
will make a sincere effort to follow MCC guidelines and requirements
in order to develop a sensible and timely compact proposal. The
exchange with the Prime Minister was direct, but also positive and
sincere. He offered his personal pledge to the CDA to do all he can
to keep Senegal's latest, perhaps last, MCC program on track. We
hope it will help that Soumare is a technocrat and not an ambitious
politician caught up in "palace intrigues" as was the previous Prime
Minister. The key to concluding a compact, however, will rest in
the willingness of the country's most powerful players to refrain
from viewing MCC funding as a potential source of lucrative deals
that can benefit the inner circle.

SMITH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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