Cablegate: Progress of Democracy and Governance Assistance In

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

REF: A. CAIRO 2524

B. CAIRO 2198
C. CAIRO 1703

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.


1. (SBU) Post is moving to implement an ambitious program
of directly-funded democracy and governance (D&G) activities
in Egypt, using USAID and other resources. Implementation of
MEPI-funded D&G projects is a key component in this process.
Post signed a new directly-funded D&G grant on March 3 using
USAID funds (ref C). With NEA/PI support, post has finalized
the five MEPI grants that were also announced on March 3.
The range of D&G activities underway and planned here has the
potential to play a significant role in supporting political
reform. In a related development, post and GOE
representatives convened the first meeting of the
eight-member Democracy and Governance Consultative Group on
March 24 (ref B). Per our agreement with the GOE,
establishment of the Consultative Group provides an advisory
forum for consultations on direct U.S. funding of democracy
and governance activities by Egyptian civil society
organizations. We would welcome the Department sending a
representative to observe the next Consultative Group
meeting. End summary.

MEPI Support for D&G

2. (SBU) With the assistance of visiting NEA/PI Grants
Officer Marie Moser, post finalized grants for the five
MEPI-funded civil society projects that Ambassador Welch
announced March 3. (Four of the grants were signed April
4-5, and the fifth grant will be signed April 10 when the
responsible NGO official returns to Cairo.) These D&G
activities can now move to implementation. Post looks
forward to working with NEA/PI to identify additional MEPI
programming opportunities in Egypt, especially in the
democracy arena.

Additional D&G Plans

3. (SBU) Post directs and coordinates USG resources and
plans for D&G assistance in Egypt using our long-standing
Institutions of Democracy Working Group (IDWG), which is
chaired by the Charge with the active participation of USAID,
Public Affairs, and our combined Economic-Political (ECPO)
Section. The IDWG is currently devoting particular focus to
USG promotion of free and fair elections in the presidential
and parliamentary polls scheduled for September and November
2005. Drawing largely on USAID-Egypt resources, post is also
proceeding with direct funding to civil society organizations
in a number of areas related to D&G. Using its Annual
Program Statement mechanism (APS), which is advertised on the
USAID website, USAID-Egypt has solicited 40 concept papers,
which, if funded, would have combined value of $17.5 million.
The concept proposals by civil society organizations focus
on media monitoring, human rights training, promoting
women,s political engagement, training the next generation
in democratic thought, NGO capacity building,
decentralization, and promotion of free and fair elections.
As of April 4, USAID had reviewed 31 concept papers and is
exploring funding for 13 of them. It is giving priority to
elections-related proposals, including election monitoring.
USAID is also providing assistance to Egyptian civil society
organizations for proposal preparation and development of
necessary financial systems.

4. (SBU) Looking ahead to this year's elections,
USAID-Egypt has developed a scope of work in consultation
with USAID Washington to solicit proposals for elections
technical assistance. The scope of work notes that
conditions in Egypt are fluid, but that openings might exist
to provide technical assistance on voter education, candidate
training, strengthening of the yet-to-be established election
commission, and election monitoring. Based on the situation
at the time of arrival of the contractor, Embassy Cairo would
determine the activities on which the contractor would work.
The technical assistance will occur under an Indefinite
Quantity Contract, a pre-competed procurement instrument.
USAID will soon share the scope of work with the two
potential bidders, Development Associates International and
the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. This
activity should begin by late May or early June.

5. (SBU) The GOE is also reviewing USAID's proposal under
the D&G Strategic Objective Agreement to fund additional
governance activities in criminal justice, family justice,
and comparative legal education. USAID is also seeking an
implementing partner for a proposed media program (with
training and election reporting components), and is
developing a decentralization of local governance program.
USAID-Egypt plans to obligate these activities with the GOE
during the current fiscal year through amendments to the
Strategic Objective Agreement.

6. (SBU) Supplementing MEPI and USAID resources described
above, post's IDWG also will soon have the ability to draw
upon a 632(a) transfer (formerly known as the Participating
Agencies Support Agreement--PASA--funds) from USAID to the
Embassy to provide additional small grants in support of D&G
and other MPP goals. The 632(a) funds ($900,000 for the
current fiscal year) have been delayed due to technical
problems in the interagency transfer process, but we are
working with USAID to resolve this issue. Also using the
632(a) funds, we will be able to expand public diplomacy
exchange and information activities that support USG D&G
goals in Egypt, including 2005 elections activities.

DRL Activities in Egypt

7. (U) Thanks to a recent visit by DRL's Ramiro Martinez,
post has gained an improved understanding of DRL-funded
projects in Egypt, which currently include innovative efforts
by the American University in Cairo aimed at supporting
Egyptian human rights groups; a Catholic Relief Services
program designed to promote rural women's rights; and an
Internews project aimed at strengthening regional media.
Post looks forward to continued coordination with DRL to
determine additional DRL funding opportunities.

First Meeting of the Consultative Group

8. (U) In a development related to the March 3 announcement
(refs A and B), all members of the Consultative Group
(complete list in ref B), with the exception of Dr. Abdel
Moneim Said, attended the March 24 meeting. USAID Director
Ellis represented the USG. Ellis provided the March 24
meeting with a briefing on the purpose of the Consultative
Group and the agreement between the GOE and USAID on direct
funding of democracy and governance assistance to Egyptian
non-governmental groups. Ellis reiterated that the
Consultative Group was an advisory body that had no
decision-making power. He said that the Consultative Group
is a channel for sharing Egyptian ideas about democracy and
governance programming with the USG, and vice versa. Ellis
noted that USAID would not be able to implement all of the
ideas generated by the Consultative Group, nor would it be
the only source of USG D&G ideas for Egypt. The members of
the Consultative Group appeared completely in agreement with
Ellis's description of their task.

9. (SBU) The Consultative Group agreed that Mona Zulficar
will act as group rapporteur during the first year of
operations. The Consultative Group plans to meet on the last
Tuesday of each month for sessions lasting 90 minutes to 2
hours. Post encourages the Department to send a
representative to observe the April 26 or May 31 session of
the Consultative Group.

10. (SBU) USAID Director Ellis agreed to provide the April
26 meeting with an overview of USAID D&G activities in Egypt.
MIC,s Ambassador Badr clarified for the Consultative Group
that its consultations will focus on USG direct-funding of
non-governmental organizations, and not the entire D&G
portfolio of USAID-Egypt.

11. (SBU) The establishment of the Consultative Group
removes a procedural objection that the GOE had voiced about
USAID direct funding of D&G activities by Egyptian civil
society. The Consultative Group can potentially serve as a
source of innovative ideas for democracy activities, as well
as allay the concerns of the GOE about the implications of
USG direct funding of these activities. The actual utility
of the Consultative Group will only be revealed in the
outcome of future meetings; regardless, its establishment
supports our goal of rolling out a wide range of
directly-funded D&G activities, which should in turn
strengthen Egyptian civil society.

Looking Ahead

12. (SBU) Post believes that activities and plans described
above in paragraphs 2-7 represent significant progress during
recent months as the USG has sought to support political
reform in Egypt. In the months ahead, we will need to
consolidate and build on this progress, by working to ensure
the success of the existing activities and developing new
initiatives to respond to the evolving political environment
(ref A). Post believes that additional progress in
developing civil society D&G initiatives in Egypt will
complement and build on existing GOE reform measures (such as
the Alexandria Reform Conferences, which have emphasized the
important role of civil society). In addition, media
coverage of USG support for civil society in Egypt, even when
negative, draws considerable attention in the rest of the
Arab world.

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