The delegation of .Africa may be in for further delay after new letters purportedly written to the Geo panel exposed a possible coercion by the African Union to another regional body UNECA that is relevant to the endorsement of the .Africa new gTLD as required by the applicant guidebook.
The AUC who is in competition for .africa and apparently also a “co-applicant ” with ZACR as per ZACR’s application to ICANN in 2012, has been busy sabotaging DCA’s endorsements from the beginning.
Past sabotage of DCA’s efforts by AUC and its Cohorts
Reportedly from its own quarters in 2010, when some underhanded letter was purportedly written by the AUC Deputy Chair, to counter the formal endorsement letter issued by the AUC Chairman to DCA in 2009, was the first. Next was in AUC pestering the Chairman of Corporate Council for Africa (CCA), a high profile US based NGO that does business in Africa to withdraw the endorsement letter it gave for DCA on .africa. Following that, in a protracted anti-competitive and monopolistic move, the members of its own .Africa Task-Force and AUC tried to reserve the .africa name for AUC by directly requesting ICANN for a special legislative protection to benefit the vested group to which the AUC would eventually delegate to the structure they identified, that, to no one’s surprise was themselves, which has since failed when DCA objected the proposal in Dakar in 2011, on the premise it violates the New gTLD program.
Post ICANN application, various counter moves have been taken against DCA’s application including ZACR, the proxy to AUC application objecting to DCA’s application on “community” grounds via ICANN’s appointed Independent Objector (IO), who after hearing DCA’s rebuttal refused to object DCA. Then, AUC used its Governmental muscle in coordination with an early warning objection of 17 ccTLDs, that are purportedly representing their Governments on ICANN GAC. This action was attributed to the advise from ICANN’s own Chair Steve Crocker to use the GAC vehicle to change the outcome of the .africa for the AUC, which it did , when the ICANN NGCP Board unanimously voted to stop DCA’s application from moving forward. However their move also failed miserably after an Independent Review Panel (IRP) favored DCA’s case against ICANN’s Board action on this matter. Finally, the AUC Commissioner, Elham Ibrahim in charge of .Africa for AUC has even gone as far stopping Bekele, CEO of DCA Trust from speaking at the ITU organized event in Addis Ababa, just because it was held on the AUC premises claiming .africa dispute.
The latest affair
In a new yet desperate attempt to force similar governmental influence unto the GeoPanel currently evaluating DCA’s endorsement post the IRP, the AUC reportedly seem to have coerced the UNECA head Dr. Carlos Lopes to undo the letter of endorsement written to DCA in 2008 by his own counterpart Ex UNECA Executive Secretary, H.E Abdoulie Janneh.
What comes across most irregular in Lopes’s reply of 22 September 2015 to AUC’s letter written by Dr.Elham Ibrahim in August 4, 2015, is that he is responding to a coerced position asserting that DCA’s endorsement is of “legal nature”, and referring it to the Secretary of his commission to respond, instead of soiling his own hands in the matter , basically saying he does not want to sign it. Similarly, his actions seem to have followed the same pattern just like the response of the Ex AUC Chair, Dr. Ping who has issued DCA an endorsement, but refused to sign any withdrawal document thereafter.
Here is an excerpt of Lopes’ reply to letter to Ibrahim of AUC:
Dr. Carlos Lopes Response: 22 September 2015
Dear Dr.Elham Ibrahim
“I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 4 August 2015, Ref. No. CIE/L/20/292.15, regarding the issue of dotAfrica.
After internal review of the issue, which is of a legal nature, I have requested the Secretary of the Commission, Ms. Sandra Baffoe-Bonnie to write to you and provide you with the Economic Commission for Africa’s position.”
I wonder what the original letter from Ibrahim instructed Lopes to do. This was not disclosed. I would imagine that it is the letter which dictated to Lopes exactly how the outcome of the UNECA letter should be reading now, the way we see it.
But the height of an astonishing brinkmanship is when AUC directly writes to the attention of ICANN’s Geo-panel regarding the matter and trying to influence the outcome of the independent evaluators on DCA’s endorsement, same way AUC did at GAC. Has anyone read the ICANN guidebook on such actions? Probably not!!
From my inquiry, it seems to me that no one would have wanted to sign the letter of response from UNECA for days on, but whoever volunteered to put her name on it had a job of “secretary of the commission” with a camouflaged title of “legal adviser” to purportedly give the voice of matter a legal weight, at the same time exposing her lack of “legal knowledge” when Ms Sandra Baffoe-Bonnie ignorantly stripped away the legal identity of the organization she works for, without having any idea what she is really saying. I would like to know where she got her law degree.
There you go Africa, make us proud with your bureaucratic corruption.
The usual confusions and misrepresentations on DCA in DI Reports
Turning to the usual sensational reporting written by Domain Incite (DI) on this matter yesterday, titled “Africa hands coffin nails to DotConnectAfrica evaluators”, the blogger Kevin Murphy, seem to have sourced a letter that is backdated in July 2015, with the same Reference No OES/15/09/0157 and made the reporting look like UNECA wrote the letter back in July 2015 on its own, evidently masking any potential coercion by AUC , as he failed to disclose the cover-letter that was attached to it dated 21, September 2015.
The letter posted by DI from UNECA seem to not deliberately disclose the actual cover letter by the head of UNECA, which DNA now sourced, and which clearly demonstrates the the top man at the UNECA refusing to sign his name to the issue calling it “legal nature” and forwarded it to whomsoever would put their name it. But that is DI for you, always masking the truth when reporting on DCA matters.