wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06DILI101
2006-03-07 05:42:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Dili
Cable title:  

DISTURBING DEVELOPMENTS IN PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTIONS; UNDP

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  TT 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0109
PP RUEHCHI RUEHNH RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0101/01 0660542
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070542Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2286
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0307
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0363
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0241
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0286
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0160
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 1605
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000101 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM TT
SUBJECT: DISTURBING DEVELOPMENTS IN PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTIONS; UNDP
PROPOSAL MAY AGGRAVATE THE PROBLEM

REF: A) 05 DILI 558, B) DILI 21

DILI 00000101 001.2 OF 003


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000101

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM TT
SUBJECT: DISTURBING DEVELOPMENTS IN PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTIONS; UNDP
PROPOSAL MAY AGGRAVATE THE PROBLEM

REF: A) 05 DILI 558, B) DILI 21

DILI 00000101 001.2 OF 003



1. (SBU) Summary: In recent discussions with representatives of
international election assistance NGOs and via requests for
assistance relayed to the UN, senior Government of East Timor
(GOET) officials have revealed an outline of their plans for the
2007 legislative and presidential elections. Embassy Dili is
concerned that the Government's approach to the planning and
structure of these elections will involve little public
consultation, will give the ruling party excessive control over
electoral institutions, and will not establish strong
independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms. While
international election assistance NGOs are planning programs to
fill in some of the gaps, a robust UN election assistance
program will be needed both to counteract some of the
Government's undemocratic inclinations and to fill in the gaps
that are too big for the NGOs to fill. Unfortunately, the UN
Development Program (UNDP) is in the process of designing a
program that would provide technical assistance to the
Government's specifications while doing little or nothing to
level the playing field. The UNDP program would also rely
almost entirely on bilateral funding, thus virtually
guaranteeing its inadequacy. In order to ensure free and fair
elections, East Timor needs a UN Election Assistance Division
program that should include: a) carefully selected international
advisors working on all aspects of election preparation and
implementation; b) substantial support for the independent
election commission that is mandated by East Timor's
Constitution; c) training and logistical support for political
parties; and d) strong monitoring presence during the campaign
as well as on election day. End Summary.


2. (U) Representatives of several international and/or
multilateral organizations, including UNOTIL (UN Office for East
Timor), the UN Department of Political Affairs' Electoral
Assistance Division (EAD), UNDP, and the International
Federation of Election Systems (IFES), have met recently with
senior GOET officials to assess East Timor's preparedness and

Government planning for the 2007 elections. Ref B discusses the
visit and report of EAD's Needs Assessment Mission. Reports
received from representatives of other organizations that have
met with GOET officials confirm the impression of the EAD
mission that GOET is planning a national election that may
replicate some of the problems of Timor's recent local
elections, discussed in Ref A.


3. (SBU) IFES representatives met recently with Minister of
State Administration Ana Pessoa, the primary official overseeing
the development of a new election law and the organization of
the 2007 elections. Pessoa, who effectively functions as Deputy
Prime Minister, is the most important member of Prime Minister
Mari Alkatiri's small inner circle of advisors who spent their
exile in Mozambique. In her meeting with IFES representatives
she outlined some key intentions regarding the election law and
the kinds of assistance GOET wants from the international
community. The Government intends to write a law that retains
the same problematic structure used during the local elections
(see ref A). This will include the Technical Secretariat for
Election Administration (STAE), responsible for all election
logistics and reporting directly to Pessoa's ministry, and an
independent monitoring body. Although East Timor's Constitution
requires an independent body to supervise or oversee
("supervisar") the elections, the National Election Commission
that oversaw the local elections had little real power and even
fewer resources. See Ref B. In addition, Pessoa indicated that
the election law will provide for proportional party
representation in the Parliament, but will favor larger parties
by establishing a minimum threshold for party representation.
Pessoa also addressed the issue of election scheduling. While
dates are yet to be set, she made clear that the Government will
not depart from its plan to hold parliamentary and presidential
elections on two separate dates, with the parliamentary election
most likely first.


4. (SBU) Regarding international election assistance, Minister
Pessoa has made requests to UNOTIL for several advisors
(including technical assistance to STAE and legal drafting
assistance for the election law) and has conveyed some
receptiveness to the assistance available via international
NGOs. However, both IFES and UNOTIL sources have noted that she
clearly wants to impose strict limits and controls on the form
and scale of international involvement. According to these
sources, Minister Pessoa wants international technical
assistance tailored in such a way as to minimize the likelihood

DILI 00000101 002.2 OF 003


that the assistance will include advice the Government does not
want to hear.


5. (SBU) Among other indications of this determination, Minister
Pessoa has insisted that UNOTIL appoint a particular legal
advisor, a relatively undistinguished Portuguese lawyer who
assisted GOET last year in drafting the problematic local
election law. She has rejected an offer by UNOTIL to provide an
election law expert from Spain who is fluent in Portuguese and
far more highly regarded than the advisor whose appointment
Minister Pessoa prefers.


6. (U) At present the Government indicates that it has not begun
to draft an election law. Nor has there been consultation with
anyone outside the Government itself about what the election law
ought to provide. Meanwhile, the ruling Fretilin party has
already begun its preparations for the 2007 elections: several
regional party congresses have already been held to elect
delegates to the national party Congress scheduled for late May.
The national Congress will almost certainly re-elect its two
top leaders, Prime Minister Alkatiri and National Parliament
President Francisco Lu'Olo Guterres, to lead the party in the
upcoming elections. Opposition parties have not yet gotten off
the mark, in part because they are less organized and far less
well-financed than Fretilin, and in part because in the absence
of an election law they do not yet know the context in which to
structure their campaigns. Moreover, organizations that intend
to work on voter education, advocacy, and/or election monitoring
lack the legal context in which to move forward with their
planning.


7. (SBU) On Friday, March 3, Emboffs attended a meeting called
by UNOTIL to unveil what was billed as a comprehensive UN
electoral assistance plan. Although the meeting was chaired by
SRSG Sukehiro Hasegawa, who is the head of UNOTIL as well as of
UNDP in East Timor, the presentation of the proposed electoral
assistance program was given entirely by UNDP officers and
appears to be entirely a UNDP program. In response to questions
at the meeting and in a later private conversation, Dr. Hasegawa
indicated that EAD would be asked to "bless" the UNDP program
and perhaps to advise it.


8. (SBU) The proposed UNDP program apparently resulted from a
two-person UNDP Needs Assessment Mission, which visited Dili
after the EAD mission and without any of the publicity or broad
consultation that characterized the latter mission. Indeed,
the UNDP mission apparently confined itself largely to meetings
with Minister Pessoa, and UNOTIL sources report that UNDP's
initial proposal for an electoral assistance program in Timor
was essentially a laundry list of the things Minister Pessoa had
indicated she wanted. This consisted primarily of nine
international advisors to STAE, including two legal advisors who
would assist in drafting the electoral law and others who would
provide technical advice, public information services, and so
forth.


9. (SBU) According to UNOTIL sources, Dr. Hasegawa insisted that
the UNDP program include some assistance to the independent
electoral commission. The proposal was modified accordingly,
although "Phase I" of the program included only one
international advisor to the commission. In "Phase II" --- to
be implemented after the election law is adopted, during the
last few months before the election itself --- most of the UNDP
advisors would still advise STAE, but six would advise the
independent commission. The proposal presented at Friday's
meeting would also provide assistance to allow the commission to
have a few Timorese staff members in each of the country's
thirteen districts.


10. (U) In addition to the diplomatic corps, invitees to the
March 3 meeting included East Timor's political parties, NGOs,
and journalists as well as STAE director Tomas Cabral and
members of the National Election Commission. Representatives of
opposition parties, journalists, and Commission members
complained that the proposed assistance to the Commission was
grossly inadequate. They argued that in order to fulfill its
oversight mandate, the Commission would have to be present not
just in the thirteen districts, but in the sixty-five
sub-districts and in each of the polling places around the
country, during the campaign and also on election day. STAE
chief Cabral, on the other hand, said the Commission would need
no independent help because the Government would give it all the
resources it might need to perform its constitutionally mandated

DILI 00000101 003.2 OF 003


functions. Diplomats present at the meeting generally confined
themselves to asking questions. Some of these questions focused
on issues similar to those raised by the NGOs and opposition
party members. Others asked why they were being presented not
with an EAD proposal but rather with what appeared to be almost
exclusively a UNDP program.


11. (SBU) Emboffs have learned that later on Friday, after the
meeting with the diplomatic corps and other observers, UNDP met
with Minister Pessoa to present the details of the draft
program. According to sources in the meeting, Pessoa indicated
that the GOET was happy with the parts of the proposal that
would assist STAE, but she insisted that almost all the proposed
assistance to the independent election commission be cut from
the proposal. In particular, she indicated that the commission
would need no presence in the districts, much less in all the
sub-districts or at all polling places. Rather, she indicated
that, "STAE can take care of that."


12. (U) UNDP also made an appeal at Friday's meeting for
bilateral donations to fund it proposed program. The budget was
about $8 million, and UNDP representatives indicated that UNDP
would be able to contribute little or nothing from its central
budget, which provides only $1 million per year for East Timor.
Diplomatic representatives of Australia, Portugal, and Brazil
indicated that they might contribute to the program. The
Ambassadors of the United States and Japan indicated that their
governments were committed to providing some assistance for the
elections, but that they would have to study the proposal
further before deciding how much if any of their electoral
assistance would be channeled through UNDP. (Comment: USAID
has tentative plans to spend between $2 million and $3 million
on a wide range of election-related activities through IFES,
NDI, IRI, and perhaps organizations that work to develop the
capacity of news media. Embassy Dili's preliminary assessment
is that USAID's current plans, although no substitute for a
robust UN electoral assistance program, are far more likely to
enhance the prospects for a free and fair election than the UNDP
program will be, and that it would be counterproductive to
divert funds from these activities to UNDP. End Comment.)


13. (SBU) UNOTIL sources indicate that UNDP is revising the
program in an attempt to meet Minister Pessoa's concerns. It is
possible, however, that the inability of UNDP to negotiate a
program that even pretends to provide adequate resources to the
independent commission will strengthen the hand of EAD in
internal UN negotiations in New York. This could result in the
revival of the idea discussed in Ref B for an EAD-designed
program designed to promote international best practices.


14. (SBU) Meanwhile, however, Emboffs have learned that UNDP
and/or UNOTIL have agreed to pay for a "consultancy" by the
Portuguese legal advisor requested by Minister Pessoa, who will
visit later in March along with a colleague, also Portuguese, to
assist her in drafting the law. It appears that the resulting
draft will largely replicate the flawed local election law --- a
powerful STAE reporting to Minister Pessoa, a weak oversight
commission, and such other features as hundreds of "civic
education brigades" paid with government funds and controlled by
Pessoa's ministry rather than by the independent commission.
See Ref B. The plan appears to be that this draft will be
endorsed by the Council of Ministers and sent to the
Fretilin-dominated Parliament for speedy enactment with little
or no public consultation, much less any attempt to forge a
broad national consensus.


15. (SBU) Comment: These recent developments strengthen
Embassy's conviction, expressed in Ref B, that in order to
ensure free and fair elections East Timor needs a UN Election
Assistance Division program that should include: a) carefully
selected international advisors working on all aspects of
election preparation and implementation; b) substantial support
for the independent election commission that is mandated by East
Timor's Constitution, including support for the commission to
have a presence in the sub-districts and at the polls; c)
training and logistical support for political parties; and d)
strong monitoring presence during the campaign as well as on
election day. End Comment.
REES