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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06NOUAKCHOTT791 2006-06-28 16:18:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nouakchott
Cable title:  

PUBLIC STRONGLY SUPPORTS REFERENDUM RESULTS --

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM PINR EAID KPAO MR 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NOUAKCHOTT 000791 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/27/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR EAID KPAO MR
SUBJECT: PUBLIC STRONGLY SUPPORTS REFERENDUM RESULTS --
DESPITE MYRIAD PROBLEMS WITH ELECTORAL MECHANICS

REF: NOUAKCHOTT 784

Classified By: Amb. Joseph LeBaron, Reasons 1.4(b)(d)

--------------
(C) Key Points
--------------

-- While the great majority of Mauritanians, including
virtually all of Mauritania's 35 political parties, have
quickly and enthusiastically accepted the results of the
referendum (reftel), one political party has claimed outright
fraud.

-- Five leading human rights organizations, including GERDDES
and SOS-Esclaves (SOS-Slaves), which coordinated a referendum
observation mission to 173 polling stations, found that the
"election conditions were satisfactory...and the law was
enforced."

-- The four-member political party coalition "Bloc for
Change" (BPC) issued a press statement "denouncing" the
serious lapses associated with the referendum, including the
strong efforts of the government to influence the vote and
intimidation by security forces at polling stations.

------------
(C) Comments
------------

-- Embassy agrees with many of the criticisms in the BPC
statement. These elections were far from perfect in terms of
election mechanics.

-- But the problems identified in the statement are largely
procedural lapses that need to be corrected before the next
election. They are not examples of systemic fraud that
invalidate the referendum results. (We detail those
procedural lapses and problems in election mechanics septel.)

-- Embassy will work with NDI, the UN and our international
partners to help Mauritania address these problems before
what will be much more difficult municipal, legislative and
presidential elections.

-- The referendum was the easy vote. It will get much harder
from here on.

End Key Points and Comments.



1. (C) Following the landslide victory of the June 25
national referendum (reftel), public reaction has been highly
supportive for both the referendum and the Military Council
for Justice and Democracy (MCJD). While nearly all political
actors have expressed their support for the election results,
a handful have criticized electoral irregularities, and at
least one political party has claimed outright fraud.



--------------------------


WIDESPREAD PRAISE FOR THE REFERENDUM


--------------------------





2. (C) Referendum enthusiasm, expressed by officials from the
Ministry of the Interior and the National Independent
Electoral Commission, has been echoed by political parties
and civil society throughout Mauritania. Rally for Democracy
and Unity (one of the leading political parties) spokesman
Ould Sidelemeine told PolOff "we worked hard for the yes
vote, and are very happy with the huge support," adding that
"our president campaigned in Selibaby, Gorgol, Trarza, and
Nouadhibou to ensure the referendum's success." Republican
Party for Democracy and Revival (Taya's former political
party) Cabinet Director Ahmed Ould Khairou added "the
referendum was in the best interests of the Mauritanian
people and was in the best interests of our party...that is
why we supported a yes vote, and why so many people came out
to vote yes."



3. (C) Representatives from five leading human rights
organizations, including GERDDES and SOS-Esclaves
(SOS-Slaves), coordinated a referendum observation mission in

NOUAKCHOTT 00000791 002 OF 002


which they visited 173 polling stations in nine of
Mauritania's 13 regions. According to the group's press
release, "election conditions were satisfactory...and the law
was enforced." When asked by PolOff if the team had
witnessed any cases of fraud, SOS-Esclaves president Boubacar
Messaoud said "we saw some problems related to poor training
of poll workers, but nothing that appeared fraudulent."



4. (C) The observation mission's statement follows the
government's refusal to permit the group to officially
observe elections. The group decided to ignore this refusal
and went forward with its own observation mission anyway. In
addition, SOS-Esclaves has a history of being outspoken and
oftentimes critical of the government. In spite of these two
factors, the group was ultimately supportive of the
referendum process and election results.



--------------------------


IRREGULARITIES AND A CLAIM OF FRAUD


--------------------------





5. (C) The four-member political party coalition "Bloc for
Change" (BPC) issued a press release "denouncing" the serious
lapses associated with the referendum. Specifically, they
cite the strong efforts of the government to influence the
vote, the lack of independence on the part of the electoral
commission, and intimidation by security forces at polling
stations. BPC president Mohamed Ould Dellahi told PolOff
that "this is still the scenario we saw under Taya, with the
strong influence of the government to influence the result."
Dellahi said that while the BPC was disappointed with the
referendum, "we plan to participate in the coming elections,
and will work to amend the constitution because it is against
our principles."



6. (C) The BPC, which stopped short of claiming fraud in its
press release, boycotted the referendum because the proposed
constitutional amendments did not address sensitive racial
and ethnic issues which are the centerpiece of the
coalition's platform.



7. (C) The Party of the Third Generation (PTG) (a small
political party with limited political influence) is
currently the only recognized political party to officially
claim that the referendum results were fraudulent. The PTG,
which was the only party to advocate a no vote for the
referendum, has not provided details to support its claim of
fraud. PTG Representative Lebatt Ould Etah has not been
available for comment.



--------------------------


CALL FOR NEUTRALITY


--------------------------





8. (U) Union of Forces for Progress (one of the leading
political parties) Second Deputy Chairman Mohamed Mustapha
Ould Bedreddine has joined other leading political parties in
calling on the government to be "cautious and neutral" in the
coming elections. "The current phase is simple," Bedreddine
told reporters, adding that "the coming legislative,
municipal and presidential elections are more serious and
require everyone to prepare themselves and not to be led by
excessive optimism."
LeBaron