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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NDJAMENA863
2005-05-30 16:26:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

LIFTING TERM LIMITS: REFERENDUM APPROACHES,

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  KDEM  CD 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

301626Z May 05

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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  NDJAMENA 000863 

SIPDIS


LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/05
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM CD
SUBJECT: LIFTING TERM LIMITS: REFERENDUM APPROACHES,
CHARGES OF MANIPULATION

REF: NDJAMENA 384

Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Kathleen FitzGibbon for reaso
ns
1. 4 (b) and (d).



1. (SBU) Summary: The public referendum on proposed
constitutional amendments will be held June 6, and
allegations of manipulation and irregularities abound.
Opposition parties and private radio stations have filed
court cases regarding flaws in the registration process, the
electoral list, and government restrictions on radio
broadcasts. The Supreme Court struck down a government
ruling preventing radio broadcasts of political debates which
the High Council for Communications is choosing to ignore.
Other allegations of government manipulation are emerging,
including intimidation tactics, bribery, and circulation of
blank and re-usable registration cards. Opposition leaders
do not anticipate any election-related violence and have
called for a general stay-at-home strike on the day of the
referendum. Any violence that occurs will likely be
spontaneous outbreaks by disgruntled students. End Summary.

- - - - - - - - -
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
- - - - - - - - -



2. (C) On June 6, registered Chadian voters will vote "oui"
or "non" for several Constitutional amendments. The most
important of which is the removal of presidential term
limits. The non-existent Senate will be abolished and
replaced with a Social and Economic Council, which will
advise the President on key policy issues. The three day
voting period for the nomads begins on June 3. The ruling
Movement for Patriotic Salvation (MPS) central and
neighborhood headquarters are adorned with MPS flags and
signs promoting a "yes" vote. Most opposition parties are
advising their supporters to boycott the referendum and
observe a "ville morte" (i.e. a stay-at-home strike) on June


6. P/E officer met with party leaders Lol Mahamat Choua,
Ibni Omar Saleh, and Saliu Ngarba, all of whom indicated that
they have instructed their supporters to avoid any
confrontations and to stay home. Interestingly, each of them
indicated that if there is to be any trouble, it would likely
be spontaneous, coming from university students or would be
the result of a government provocation. Choua and Saleh
advised that official U.S. participation in the Government's
observer team would make the USG complicit in a completely
fraudulent exercise.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PROBLEMATIC REGISTRATION PROCESS AND ELECTORAL LIST
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



3. (C) The opposition charges that an analysis of the
Government's published numbers for registration demonstrates
significant irregularities. During a visit to Moundou and
Sahr in early March, the then-Governor of Sahr Damyo and
Deputy Governor of Moundou Lucas showed P/E officer and P/E

assistant the Government's tallies of the number of Chadians
registered by administrative district. Both officials were
surprised, particularly that more voters were registered in
the northern and eastern parts of the country than elsewhere
in the country. According to the Independent Electoral
Commission (CENI), the country's population increased from 6
million in 1993 to 9.3 million in 2005. CENI registered 4.9
million voters. According to Saliu Ngarba, only 45 percent
of Chadians are over 18 and eligible to vote so it is not
possible to register 5 million out of 9 million people.



4. (C) The challenged numbers also come from the sparsely
populated and logistically-challenging northern parts of Chad
such as the B.E.T., where 92 percent of the potential voters
were registered, Biltine, (71 percent) and Kanem (73
percent). Two more densely populated southern states, Logone
Occidental and Logone Oriental each showed only a 39 percent
of the population registered. Other southern states,
including Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Tandjile, Moyen
Kebbi, and Moyen Chari all showed decreases in the numbers of
persons registered from two to 13 percent. Part of the
explanation for the decreased numbers of registered voters in
the south is the door-to-door registration process and calls
by some opposition leaders to their southern constituents not
to register. However, even Lucas maintained that the
differences between the north and south are glaring, but


predictable because it is difficult to verify the lists in
the northern part of the country. Both he and Damyo were
concerned about fraud and the nomadic vote because nomads
were allowed to register in one district but vote elsewhere,
depending on where they are located on the days prior to the
referendum.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
HUSHING THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



5. (SBU) On May 4, the High Commission for Communications
(HCC) issued an order prohibiting private radio stations from
broadcasting political debate concerning the referendum. The
HCC also stated that it would use a list of the 74 political
parties for the public service broadcasting of their
messages. For example, each party would get a chance to
broadcast on the radio and television three times during the
campaign period. Three minutes on the radio and two minutes
on the television. The parties messages must be registered
well in advance of their broadcast in the presence of a
member of the HCC. Any message to be carried in a language
other that French and Arabic must be reviewed by the HCC 48
hours in advance. The independent media took the case to
court and on May 25, the Supreme Court suspended the HCC's
prohibition. However, on May 27, HCC Chairman Moussa Dago
announced that the court decision did not affect the HCC
regulation that radio stations operated by community and
private associations cannot broadcast political messages.
The lawyer from the union of private radio station claimed
that Dago is confusing radio stations run by community and
private associations with private commercial radio stations.
Ibni Omar Saleh, leader of the Party for Freedom and
Development (PLD), praised the Court's decision, but said
that in practice it is not important because the referendum
is only a week away and private radio stations have
effectively been silenced for the majority of the campaign
period.

- - - - - - - - -
OTHER ALLEGATIONS
- - - - - - - - -



6. (C) Other charges of ruling party and government
manipulation are evident in the streets of N'Djamena.
Several different sources, including an army officer, are
reporting that members of the Presidential Guard have been
given police uniforms and have been deployed throughout
N'Djamena, particularly at the major traffic circles.
Members of the Deby family, including his wives and children,
have been seen giving "small gifts" to residents in various
neighborhoods. In meetings with government officials,
traditional leaders, particularly in the east, have
reportedly been told to "get out the yes vote" of their
people. Neighborhood chiefs have been given blank
registration cards that can reportedly be used more than
once. Finally, opposition deputies in the National Assembly
and other opposition leaders are bringing a new court case
alleging that there are discrepancies between the amendments
the body voted on and what is being presented to the public.

- - - -
COMMENT
- - - -



7. (C) Most N'Djamena residents believe that the outcome of
the referendum is already a done deal. For this reason, the
majority of the opposition has not mounted a concerted "no"
campaign and is instead calling for a general stay-at-home
strike. Given the opposition's non-militant position, we
expect widespread apathy on June 6, with only MPS supporters
going to the polls. Nonetheless, the Government appears
prepared to clamp down on any trouble that could arise. We
will be seeing the President of the CENI this week to respond
to a formal invitation to participate on an official
monitoring mission.
WALL


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