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At UN, Darfur No-Bid Contract Spun by UK, Chad and Somalia Preemptively Bid Out

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- As the UN Security Council threatened action against anyone who impedes the Darfur peace talks scheduled for Libya this weekend, Sudan's representative criticized the UN's $250 million no-bid contract with Lockheed Martin for infrastructure for the Darfur peacekeeping mission as a "clear violation of UN rules" akin to "the Oil for Food scandal." Inner City Press asked Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad what Sudan intends to do about the contract. "We will raise it in the Fifth Committee," he said. "And in the General Assembly."

            By contrast, permanent Security Council member the United Kingdom does not believe it has any responsibility for the no-bid Darfur contract. Inner City Press asked Amb. John Sawers if he thought there should have been a competitive process -- some argue that the sole-source award to U.S.-based Lockheed Martin has needlessly handed Sudan an issue. Amb. Sawers said, video here at Minute 4:54, "I don't have a particularly strong view on that. The Secretary-General was asked a question on that and he responded. I think it's a matter for the UN."

            Who is "the UN," if not the UK, permanent member of the Security Council and drafter of the Council's Presidential Statement on Darfur? Does Amb. Sawers mean that the UK feels it has nothing to say about the propriety of UN procurement and contracting? In fact, in a purportedly off-the-record breakfast held primarily for the British press, the Lockheed no-bid contract was defended, as necessary due to the need for speed after the Council passed its Darfur mission resolution.

            But this defense is undermined by a recent addition to the UN's procurement website, soliciting "Expressions of Interest" for "Provision of Multi Functional Logistics’ Services for Darfur, Chad/Central African Republic and Somalia," with a deadline of November 15.

UK's Amb. Sawer and Ban Ki-moon and file, Lockheed contract not shown

In part the solicitation, here online in full from Inner City Press, reads:

2.1 Darfur - The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769(2007) established the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) of approximately 31,000 personnel (military, police, civilians) to improve the security situation in Darfur. There are approximately 35 existing logistic bases and camps. More camps are planned to be constructed. Under the MFLS contract (following from this EOI, some of those existing camps will either need to be upgraded or replaced with new camps are expected to be constructed. The MFLS will also include operation and maintenance services for these camps. These camps will vary in size to accommodate from 100 to 2,000 personnel. The actual surface area of the respective camps will be dependent on environment. The final mixture of detailed work requirement is still being determined at this stage.

2.2 Chad / CAR - The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007) on 25 September 2007 established the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), authorizing the deployment of approximately 500 UN personnel to assist European Union troops to assist refugees and to counter threats to humanitarian activities, in accordance with the resolution. Although of a smaller scale, a MFLS will be implemented.

2.3 Somalia - In its Presidential Statement of 30 April 2007, the Security Council requested Secretary General to “immediately begin appropriate contingency planning for a United Nations mission to Somalia”. At this early stage it is planned to have a UN logistics base at Mombassa, Kenya to support the main supply line from Mombassa to Kismayo, Mogadishu and Hobyo, which will serve as secondary logistics bases in Somalia. At this early stage the number and location these sites is unknown, but it is envisaged that approximately 24,000 personnel may be required.

            It is explained to Inner City Press that this solicitation, made after the rules had already been waived to allow the transfer of $250 million to Lockheed Martin for six months in Darfur, is intended to try to clean up the process after-the-fact. But in fact more questions are raised: if the UN can ask for Expressions of Interest for infrastructure for a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia which the Security Council has not even yet decided on -- despite the EOI's estimation of a 24,000 troop force -- why couldn't this have been done for the Darfur hybrid force, which was talked about the planned for as far back as previous Secretary-General Kofi Annan? Developing.

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Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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