The journalist, known as Homeport on leading message boards covering ERHC Energy, said a fair reading of the President's remarks - obtained by him from a transcript - shows that most reporting on his comments fell far short of the mark.
Not only did the president call it incomplete and lacking evidence, but he said it "created an unjustified atmosphere of suspicion", said it "at best is preliminary and incomplete," and was "more likely to prejudice national interests than to attempt to protect them."
In addition, rather than merely referring to his predecessors indirectly, or saying that it was unknown who signed the original agreement - as was widely reported in error - De Menezes made a direct reference to those responsible in his speech, saying "such a loss is due to possibly poor negotiations during this last auction. Until today, the country ignores who authorized the re-signing of this accord in 2001: if it was the government or the President of the Republic at the time.”
Most news agencies reported that the president said the probe was "incomplete" and "lacked evidence," but gave no hint of the extent of his stinging remarks.
Here are comments and the translation provided by Homeport, a trusted poster:
STP News: I managed to get a copy of Pres Menezes' speech to the country early last week. He deals with three issues: parliament's renege on constitutional referendum, AG Pereira's awards inquiry and the aid flap involving FM Pequeno, in that order. Unlike the impression given by media reports that dribbled out of STP over three days, it was one speech, not two.
Menezes' comments on the AG's inquiry and ERHC are of great interest, I think, and deserve to be read in their entirety and in context - in contrast to the few partial quotes we'd seen before.
For your reading pleasure – and comment – my translation from the original Portuguese:
“I want to return to the second point of my speech, the Report of the Attorney General of the Republic, which created an unjustified atmosphere of suspicion, in my opinion, about the oil dossier, and, more concretely, about the 2nd auction of blocks in the joint zone.
“In effect, based on his investigation, the AGR concluded that the procedures of the 2nd auction lacked transparency and regularity and suffered serious procedural deficiencies and political manipulation.
“However, these conclusions resulted from an only partial investigation, seeing that, according to the report, requests for information made to Nigeria received no answer.
“Was it prudent to make public partial results of a potentially corrosive report such as this!?
“And more, when it concludes the following, in the 2nd paragraph of the investigation and future actions, and I quote: ‘Despite this AGR office’s having determined grave procedural deficiencies in the conduct of the 2nd auction, it was not possible for this AGR office to establish on the basis of documents and the available evidence whether the allocation of shares and the conduct of the 2nd auction was or not affected by conflicts of interest, political favoritism, or by payments or transfer of valuables to any citizen or functionary of the STP government.’ End of quote.
“Well then, whom do we hold responsible, if in relation to Nigeria it has no elements to determine even if there were illegalities or not in the process that took place?
“Shouldn’t the fact that the AGR office did not have all of the information have counseled the continuation of the investigation rather than the publication of a report that at best is preliminary and incomplete!?
“I believe that that form, divulging a partial report, reviving issues that have been exhaustively discussed, like that related to the rights acquired by ERHC, are more likely to prejudice national interests than to attempt to protect them, as I believe was the objective.
“We must finally conclude that this Report, such as it was presented to us, I dare to say, comes as a whitewash for the most criminal, the biggest assault ever on the wealth of the people of Sao Tome since independence: that is the accord signed in 1997 and redone in May 2001with the ERHC Group. Yes, that is where, due to the rights the accord attributed to the referred group, the country loses USD 58 million if we conclude the 2nd auction of blocks such as it is presented to us at this moment, and not that which they want us to believe: that is, that such a loss is due to possibly poor negotiations during this last auction. Until today, the country ignores who authorized the re-signing of this accord in 2001: if it was the government or the President of the Republic at the time.”