Egypt resisted U.S. democracy efforts

Oct. 29, 2009 at 9:41 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Egypt's government resisted U.S. efforts to promote democracy there, all but wasting more than $180 million in U.S. foreign aid, a U.S. government audit said.

The "impact of (U.S.-funded) democracy and governance programs (in Egypt from 2004 to 2008) was unnoticeable," the report by the U.S. Agency for International Development's inspector general said.

USAID, part of the U.S. State Department, is responsible for most non-military foreign aid.

"A major contributing factor to the limited achievements ... (was) a lack of support" from President Hosni Mubarak's government, the audit said.

For example, the government -- which has ruled under a "state of emergency" since former President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by extremists in 1981 -- canceled, without explanation, a training program on anti-corruption and political reform, said the audit, first reported by USA Today.

And after USAID spent $618,000 to train 2,100 poll watchers in 2007 local elections, most were denied polling-place access, the audit alleged.

USAID auditors based their conclusions on international indexes of civil liberties, corruption, political rights and press freedom, USA Today said.

The audit also cited missteps by USAID grant recipients aggravated by poor USAID management. One grantee got $1.2 million to provide civic training to 600 teachers and 30,000 students, but actually trained just 330 teachers and some 2,000 students, less than 8 percent of the target, the audit contended.

USAID managers agreed with most audit recommendations and pledged to implement them, USA Today said.

Egypt, one of Africa's most populous countries, is the second-largest recipient of non-military and military U.S. aid after Israel, receiving $69 billion since 1948, the Congressional Research Service says.

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