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Cablegate: Nigeria: Political Peer Review Endorsed at Nepad's

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
hosted a NEPAD Head of State Implementation Committee (HSIC)
meeting November 3. Nigeria's NEPAD coordinator, Ambassador
Aluko-Olokun, briefed Abuja-resident G-8 diplomats November
4, that the HSIC endorsed voluntary peer review as "critical"
to NEPAD. Aluko-Olokun characterized the African Union (AU)
as the "mother and father of NEPAD," but claimed the AU
currently lacks technical competence to perform peer review.
Thus far, Ghana and Botswana have volunteered to undergo
review. A last minute attempt to attend the summit by
Libya's Qadaffi was rejected because Northern Africa had not
named Libya as its representative to the Implementation
Committee. End summary.

2. (U) Seventeen nations attended the fifth meeting of the
New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Head of
State Implementation Committee meeting on November 3 in
Abuja. Committee Chair President Obasanjo welcomed the group
with a speech that underlined peace, security and stability
as preconditions for development. Obasanjo lauded positive
developments in Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Sudan and even in Somalia, but noted continued
instability elsewhere on the continent. He urged all parties
in Cote d'Ivoire to demonstrate commitment to peace and
reconciliation, and called for an end to fighting in the
Central African Republic and Liberia.

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3. (U) In his speech, Obasanjo defined the African Peer
Review Mechanism (APRM) as a voluntary assessment of mutually
agreed codes and standards to foster good governance. He
stressed that for APRM to be effective, Africa's development
partners must deliver on their commitments of material

4. (SBU) In briefing the G-8 diplomats, Aluko-Olokun
characterized the meeting as productive and focusing on
advancement of the NEPAD implementation process. Noting that
African countries have not implemented programs well in the
past, Aluko-Olokun claimed President Obasanjo and the other
leaders were determined to follow through on NEPAD. The
Committee set itself an April 2003 deadline to finalize the
APRM mechanism. They also completed the process for naming
the NEPAD Panel of Eminent Persons; accepted the APRM
criteria and standards from the Chair's Report on NEPAD's
June to October, 2002 activities; and approved priorities
and strategies for the next three years period in line with
the NEPAD Program of Action.

5. (SBU) Twelve countries signed the Declaration of Intent on
Implementation of the APRM, including South Africa. Of the
five countries that did not sign, Aluko-Olokun attributed
Senegal's absence to the early departure of President Wade,
Cameroon's to discrepancies between the French and English
language versions of the document, and Tunisia, Uganda and
Botswana to reasons unknown to him. (Comment: Several days
before the meeting, press reports had noted differences in
opinion among NEPAD leaders in the peer review mechanism.
South Africa's Mbeki had stated that NEPAD did not envision
"political" review, only economic review. End Comment.)

6. (SBU) According to Aluko-Olokun, APRM is voluntary now,
but it will become obligatory once NEPAD is incorporated into
the African Union. Furthermore, APRM will become more
attractive as international donor aid is increasingly
directed to African countries through NEPAD. The HSIC
rejected the argument NEPAD was undercutting the
effectiveness of AU political, economic, and human rights
commissions, which Aluko-Olokun argued had become moribund.
Furthermore, Aluko-Olokun said relations were too strained
between the AU and international community to expect any
effective leadership by the AU in the short term.

7. (SBU) Mbeki's comments about political peer review had
helped force the committee to focus on the issue. "Many
countries had not understood the idea," announced
Aluko-Olokun, "and many were afraid of the idea. We talked
about it extensively. It became evident that peer review
without political review was not viable. In principle and in
fact, there can be no economic peer review without some kind
of political review."

8. (SBU) Comment: Despite Aluko-Olokun's forward-leaning
statements on peer review becoming obligatory, the deal may
not yet be done. Even within the GON, some influential
players continue to insist that peer review will be
voluntary. The belief is that as more nations voluntarily
submit and benefit from increased development assistance and
private sector activity for good governance, the mechanism
will obtain a certain gravity, attracting other countries to
the fold. Additionally, there are differing opinions of what
peer review will look like. Will it only be on specific
areas designated by the country under review? Also, some
believe the mechanism will produce a "report card" or a
governance rating while others see the process as less formal
and more consultative, one that does not issue pass or fail
grades but provides suggestions and recommendations to the
subject governments.

9. (SBU) Aluko-Olokun rejected press speculation that
Cameroonian President Paul Biya's absence was the result of
heightened tensions with Nigeria. The International Court of
Justice decision awarding sovereignty of the disputed Bakassi
peninsula to Cameroon was not discussed at the November 3
HSIC meeting. Cameroon did send a full delegation of 30 to
35 members and actively participated in the meetings,
Aluko-Olokun said.

10. (SBU) Peer review dominated a large chunk of the HSIC
discussions. Apparently, some Governments were getting cold
feet, worried that they may be creating something that will
lead to their future discomfort and embarrassment. While the
meeting was successful in reaching agreement on "political"
peer review, the story as to what the review will actually
entail is yet to be told. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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