DCA Trust has fired back in a detailed response to the letter by AUC Commissioner AU Commissioner, Dr. Elham Ibrahim insisting that it “amounts to inappropriate interference designed to undermine the objectivity and independence of the GNP.”
Bekele has also quoted several parts of the applicant guide book which gives restrictions to applicants on how to communicate with the independent evaluation panels; the letter says in part that
From Section 22.214.171.124 of the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook, we can infer the important stipulation to:
“safeguard against the potential for inappropriate influence and ensure applications are evaluated in an objective and independent manner”.
We therefore strongly believe that the letter by AUC Commissioner amounts to inappropriate interference designed to undermine the objectivity and independence of the GNP.
- We note that Section 2.2.4. (‘Communication Channels’) of the ICANN new gTLD Applicant Guidebook clearly stipulates inter alia:
“Contacting individual ICANN staff members, Board members, or individuals engaged by ICANN to perform an evaluation role in order to lobby for a particular outcome or to obtain confidential information about applications under review is not appropriate.”
No party especially the applicants (including the AUC) may contact an Evaluation Panel (or Panels) directly. This ensures that any work being conducted by an Evaluation Panel is independent and free of interference from any party. The letter infers that “AUC letter is intended to advocate (or lobby) for a particular outcome and is very inappropriate according to the Guidebook provisions.”
Purported Heads of State Declarations & Ministerial Resolutions on .africa
It is a well known fact that most resolutions have been drafted almost annually to cement any lobbyist tenures with the intent to support an in existed ‘African Voice’, Ms. Bekele’s letter also questions the use of the declarations as supporting documents for proof of endorsement. The letter states
It is our view that as far as the new gTLD Program is concerned, these Ministerial Declarations and Resolutions mentioned in the AUC letter written by Infrastructure and Energy Division do not count as valid endorsements, letters of support or objections. This view has also been reinforced by ICC during their review of endorsement as evidenced in the IRP discovery process.
The AUC RFP comes back to haunt the .Africa process.
DCA Trust had on numerous occasions questioned the AUC RFP on .Africa and even refused to participate because it was ‘not open and transparent’. Therefore the letter also asks several questions (listed below)that the only the AUC will have a burden to proof or disproof.
How was the AUC .Africa RFP conducted?
Where is the complete list of firms/companies that responded to the AUC RFP on .Africa?
Where are the official minutes of the AUC Tender Board meeting that had been held to deliberate upon, and give consideration to the RFP outcome; and subsequent approval of the evaluated RFP results?
Was the .Africa RFP handled by the AUC Procurement Division? And if not; why was the RFP not overseen by the AUC Procurement Unit as per AUC working procedures and official policy regarding RFPs, RFQs, and such like processes that are used to administrate procurement actions?
Purported withdrawal of DCA’s UNECA Endorsement by UNECA’s Secretary of the Commission
The letter also questions the recent much discussed letter from an enforcing regional body UNECA given to DCA Trust in 2008. DCA reads mischief in the purported withdrawal more than three years after the closing of the new gTLD application window in 2012 and in the response to AUC Commissioner AU Commissioner, Dr. Elham Ibrahim
We wish to note that the UNECA letter to the AUC would not have been written if ICANN had not “resumed the evaluation” of DCA Trust’s .Africa application after the Final IRP decision was issued in July 2015.
Quoting an excerpt from the Final IRP Declaration which confirms an ICANN official position in a legal proceeding, Berkeley’s letter gives confirmation that the Geographic Evaluation Panel had already considered the validity of the letter:
“Pursuant to the ICC’s advice, the UNECA’s endorsement was taken into account. Like the AUC, the UNECA had signed letters of support for both DCA and ZACR.82 The ICC advised that because the UNECA was specifically named in the Abuja Declaration, it too should be treated as a relevant public authority. 83 ICANN accepted the ICC’s advice”.
The letter also noted that the AUC commissioner could have coerced the UNECA into submitting the questionable letter saying “but has been unduly pressured by the AUC Commissioner to write this letter.” see our coverage on the letter here: AUC Coerces UNECA to write Irregular letter to Fail DCA’s .africa GeoPanel Evaluation
Ms. Bekele’s letter also concludes that there must be an equitable treatment of endorsements that would mean either both .Africa applicants pass or fail, stating that
“If the AUC’s support as a public authority equates to the 60 per cent requirement, then the UNECA letter of support that DCA Trust has submitted should also be considered as equivalent to satisfying the 60 per cent requirement for the sake of equitable and fair treatment to both .Africa new gTLD applicants.”
The entire DCA Trust’s letter is linked here for further reading