wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ABUJA2984
2006-11-16 07:08:00
SECRET
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

CHIEFS OF MISSION AGREE ELECTION CRISIS LOOMING

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  PHUM  NI 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0409
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2984/01 3200708
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 160708Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7807
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002984 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2016
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM NI
SUBJECT: CHIEFS OF MISSION AGREE ELECTION CRISIS LOOMING


Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (S) The high-tech voter registration is fatally flawed
and is lowering the overall credibility of INEC and the
political process, according to nine Chiefs of Mission who
gathered for a discussion on the status of election
preparation for the 2007 elections. with bad news emerging
every day, the Canadian High commissioner reported that the
Canadian company contracted to provide the bulk of the voter
registration machines has backed out of the deal. This likely
cements the fate of the highly touted high tech voter
registration exercise and will be a big blow for INEC. But
this latest development is also a "victory for common sense,"
and opens the door to a realistic discussion of election
preparation needed to ensure that INEC prepares a credible
voter's register and sticks to its calendar for elections.



2. (S) On Nov. 15, 2007 Ambassador Campbell hosted the
second in an on-going series of Chief of Mission discussions
focused on the status of election preparation.
Representatives of the principal elections donors, France,
Italy, UK Japan, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the EU, shared
their views on the progress and prospects for successful
elections. While there was unanimous consensus on the
failure of the voter registration process, there were several
different suggestions put forward on which issues to
prioritize in attempting to salvage INEC's credibility, and
strategies aimed at underscoring the importance of
maintaining the current electoral calendar.



3. (S) The discussion opened with a report from the Swedish
Ambassador who reported that he had visited Iwu within the
last week and been given the "optimistic lecture" on
election preparation. Iwu admitted only temporary problems
with the arrival of machines, blamed politicians for wanting
to maintain the status quo, and said that money for INEC work
was not an issue. He did not acknowledge that there was a
major problem with the arrival of the registration machines,
but instead, Iwu laid out a scenario in which registration
would continue and 40 million people could be registered in
40 days, and if necessary, he could extend the registration
period until February 2008. He said that the paper back-up
with the electronic registration could provide a plan B, if
necessary.



4. (S) The Canadian High Commissioner reported that the
Canadian company which INEC was counting on to provide 20,000
of the 33,000 registration machines had backed out of the
deal. The HC said that two layers between the contract and
the supplier (a Nigerian company was the primary partner) had
complicated the deal, leading to a lack of transparency, even
on the amount of the contract, and that there was also a

problem with the letter of credit.
In other contracting news, the UK High Commissioner said that
a British company had decided it will no longer be the
supplier of the voter's registration cards, something it had
won the contract to provide. He did not give details but
indicated the decision was final.



5. (S) The EU representative reported that INEC in
desperation was exploring the idea of buying 8,000 laptops
with various software packages as one possible way to make up
for the Canadian machines. Post has obtained the confidential
report prepared by INEC's international consultant, which in
highly qualified language, recommends against the idea
because of major security, logistical, software, and
compatibility problems.



6. (S) The EU also reported on the formation of an emergency
UNDP steering committee tasked with developing a coherent
proposal for Plan B registration. The committee would be made
of the members of the donor basket and UNDP and would be
tasked with presenting its ideas to INEC, supplying INEC the
necessary technical advise and, if needed, money, according
to the EU representative.



7. (S) The UK High Commissioner proposed a two-pronged
strategy which included encouraging INEC to move forward with
the process in a practical way, and emphasizing the need to
keep to the April election and May turnover dates.. He also
suggested that INEC, as the only game in town be supported
politically. Other raised questions about whether INEC's
failed registration exercise had mortally wounded its
Chairman, and possibly the institution. Comment: There is
wide spread speculation that Iwu may be fired sometime in the
next few weeks, but there is no clear sign that this will
happen. End comment.



8. (S) There was a consensus that December was a crucial
month, with party primaries, a scheduled visit by President
Obasanjo to the UN, where he is expected to give a
valedictory speech, and also the month when a political
solution to the voter registration fiasco would most likely

ABUJA 00002984 002 OF 002


occur.



9. (S) Comment: Despite Iwu's regular statements that all is
well, clearly the high tech approach to voter registration is
dead, and the INEC is looking at alternative way to register
some forty million people. Iwu is also hinting that the
timetable for registration may be more "flexible" than he has
previously indicated, with the possibility that the process
could continue into February. However, a paper registration
process has its own challenges: the 2003 registration list
has never been computerized, and, in any event is almost
universally regarded as flawed. UN experts, among others,
suggest that it may be easier to build a new registration
list from scratch, a daunting prospect in this huge country
with such poor communications. End comment.
CAMPBELL