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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06NDJAMENA643
2006-05-04 17:12:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT DEBY'S ELECTION: NOW WHAT?

Tags:   KDEM  PGOV  PHUM  PREL  CD 
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VZCZCXYZ0023
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNJ #0643/01 1241712
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041712Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3682
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1104
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0350
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0741
RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 0610
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1043
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0358
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0191
RUEHLC/AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 0843
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1356
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0551
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 2649
RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU 0437
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1745
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 1141
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0698
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0734
						C O N F I D E N T I A L NDJAMENA 000643 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2007
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL CD
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT DEBY'S ELECTION: NOW WHAT?

Classified By: Ambassador Marc Wall for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L NDJAMENA 000643

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2007
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL CD
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT DEBY'S ELECTION: NOW WHAT?

Classified By: Ambassador Marc Wall for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Few bothered to vote, no opposition
leader of any stature was a candidate, and the voter
registration lists were virtually useless, but never mind.
Now that these peaceful, but flawed elections held on May 3
are behind him, President Deby will claim a popular mandate
for holding on to power for at least another five years.
Most Chadians will reluctantly acquiesce, but few believe
they had a chance to vote in a credible or meaningful
election. All here will be listening closely to what we say.
We should be honest about our concerns, but also alert to
how our words can encourage democratic reform. END SUMMARY


2. (U) President Idriss Deby Itno's two year campaign to
extend his mandate in power for a third term completed its
final stage with the holding of presidential elections May 3.
Like the vote in the National Assembly in May 2004 to
authorize a referendum on revising the constitution to permit
him to stay on in office indefinitely and the referendum
itself in June 2005, the election on May 3 provoked a storm
of controversy and galvanized his enemies against him. But
the outcome will no doubt be deemed to be the one he wanted.
The announcement of the results, their certification by the
Constitutional Council, and the possible (though unlikely)
need to hold a run-off election are still to come. Still,
barring more armed insurrections or a palace coup, Deby can
look forward to his inauguration ceremonies on August 8
blessing his mandate for another five years in power.

--------------
It Looked Good, But Was It?
--------------


3. (U) The voting on May 3 in the capital city unfolded
without incident (septel). The streets were uncustomarily
empty for much of the day, but people who chose to vote were
able to do so at one of the 400 polling stations set up
throughout town. Most were simple stands of tables and
chairs set under shade trees along dusty neighborhood

streets. Knowledgeable attendants dutifully checked names
off the computer lists of registered voters. Police were
present at each site, but not overbearingly so. With few
exceptions, brightly colored ballots for Deby and the other
candidates were plentiful through the day. Upon arrival,
voters would present their voter registration cards, receive
one copy of each ballot, then proceed to a corner of the site
where they would stand behind a white sheet and place the
ballot of their choice in an envelop. They would then slip
the envelop into a clear plastic box and have their voting
card stamped and one of their finger tips daubed with
indelible ink.


4. (SBU) Despite a level of organization rarely seen in
N'Djamena, the Embassy teams visiting the polling stations
throughout the day did notice various irregularities --
underage voters, cases of double voting (or more), a large
number of unregistered voters signing in as "nomads,"
sometimes far exceeding the number of registered voters
appearing to cast their ballots. We were not able to
ascertain any cases of people being paid to vote, but at
least one voter told us of concerns by workers about being
harassed by employers if they were not able to show their
registration card with a stamp showing they had voted. More
fundamental problems were evident as well. Voter turnout was
light, perhaps, in our unscientific estimate, 20 percent at
best. No major opposition leader offered himself as a
candidate. With 5.6 million voters registered in a country
with over half of its population of perhaps nine million
under 18 years of age, the voter rolls were egregiously
bloated. That anomaly may not have mattered anyway, with so
many easily manipulated votes coming in from unregistered
"nomads."

--------------
The Caravan Passes
--------------


5. (SBU) The surface show of a normal election thus masks
the reality of an exercise few regard here as credible or
meaningful. Deby and his supporters will no doubt trumpet
the results as popular endorsement of his ambitions to stay
in power for another term. They will brush aside charges
that most Chadians and opposition leaders stayed away from
the election because they were convinced that their
involvement would make no difference in the outcome. The
opposition had a chance to participate in the elections, but
chose not to, they will argue. In response to criticisms of
irregularities, they will answer: how do you know? In a
sense, they will be right. With the exception of the Embassy
teams, a few international journalists, and some local NGO's,
no authoritative international teams of observers were
present, either the day of the vote, or in the preparations
leading up to it and the tabulation and certification now
underway.

--------------
What Should We Say?
--------------


6. (C) Chadians are eagerly awaiting what we say about this
election. For Deby, our positive assessment would represent
the most important endorsement he could receive. On the
other hand, our criticisms would sting. Although he could
easily blow them off, he would have a hard time getting over
the blow to his ego when what he most wants from the
international community is "respect." For the opposition and
the Chadian people, our words will resonate more loudly than
any others. Expecting little from the European Union or
African Union and fearing a whitewash from the French, they
look to us as their last hope for speaking candidly about a
political process they have written off long ago.


7. (C) In crafting a statement, we should be forthright in
our assessment of the outcome and our affirmation of our
principles, but also alert to how our words can help advance
democratic reform. That will not be easy. Now that Deby can
claim victory, he will likely be ready to give lipservice to
any roadmap we might suggest, but his past record does not
suggest that he will be any more serious about implementing
real reform. He is hardly the sort of leader inclined to
share power with his opponents, at least not in any way that
counts. His opponents know this. Short of Deby's commitment
to a timeframe for leaving office or holding real elections,
they will fiercely resist any plan that gives him cover for
business-as-usual.

--------------
Action Request
--------------


8. (SBU) We urge Washington to consider issuing a statement
that makes the following points:

-- We are pleased the May 3 election was conducted
peacefully.

-- The low turnout, boycott by opposition parties, and
flawed voter lists raise questions about the process.

-- We are disappointed that many Chadians did not believe
that they would be able to vote in a credible election.

-- We urge Chadians to engage in a dialogue on opening the
political process, sharing power in a new government,
improving the electoral process, and reaching consensus on
the regular hand over of presidential power.

-- We are ready to work with the Chadian government and
people in their efforts to strengthen the democratic process
in their country.
WALL