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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD2153 2007-06-30 12:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

THE NEW ELECTIONS COMMISSION AT 60 DAYS: SOLID

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM IZ 
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VZCZCXRO0202
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2153/01 1811203
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301203Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1955
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002153 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: THE NEW ELECTIONS COMMISSION AT 60 DAYS: SOLID
START BUT GROWING PAINS

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Robert Gilchrist for reasons
1.4(b) and (d).

-------
Summary
-------



1. (C) Summary: The Independent High Electoral Commission
(IHEC) of Iraq demonstrated solid potential during their
first sixty days in office. After a successful training trip
to India, the IHEC seized the initiative to begin creating a
voter registry, which is a key prerequisite for provincial
elections. However, in conversations with Deputy
PolCounselor, Poloff, and the Independent Electoral Advisory
Team (IEAT), the commissioners describe how they continue to
experience logistical difficulties in setting up their
organization. While noting the many political decisions that
needed to be made before provincial council elections could
be held, the commissioners nonetheless expressed intentions
of being fully prepared by the time of the vote. End Summary.



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


Successful training in India


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





2. (C) The IHEC commissioners had a successful training trip
to India from May 30 to June 9, which was organized by the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN
Office for Project Services. According to UNAMI Chief
Electoral Advisor Sandra Mitchell, the commissioners used the
space created by a non-conflict environment to develop strong
group cohesiveness and positive personal relationships.
"There was no evidence of any sectarian divisiveness," said
Mitchell. The commissioners attended all training sessions,
were responsible and timely, did their assigned homework, and
did not abuse their delegation privileges, stated Mitchell.
The result, she continued, is that upon their return to
Baghdad on June 10, "they hit the ground running very fast."



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


Next steps for provincial elections


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





3. (C) In a June 24 meeting with Deputy PolCouns and poloff,
IHEC Commissioner Hamdiya Al-Husseini (Shia) listed the
prerequisites for provincial elections: elections
legislation, appointment of the governorate chief electoral
officers, a voter registry, a mechanism to handle internally
displaced people, and a budget. Chairman Faraj stated that
the elections legislation must be sure to address the
electoral system, the choice of boundaries to be used, and
the date or dates of the elections, because these were
political questions that could not be determined by the IHEC.



4. (C) IHEC Chief Electoral Officer Kareem Al-Tamimi (Shia)
stated that the governorate electoral offices were suffering
from the absence of supervision and that the governorate
electoral officers (GEO) needed to be appointed as quickly as
possible. The process for appointment is for the Council of
Representatives (CoR) to propose a slate of five nominees for
each GEO position and for the IHEC to then select one of the
five. Presently, although the CoR has assembled slates for
seven of the nineteen positions (Baghdad governorate has two
positions), none had been submitted yet to the IHEC.



5. (C) According to Charles Lasham, Chief of Party for IFES,
an IEAT non-governmental organization, the IHEC needs to
focus on capacity building in the area of elections
procurement, which has never been done by Iraqis before.
During the previous elections held in 2005, the IEAT handled
all procurement steps, including writing requests for
proposals, bidding and awarding contracts, and costing and
sourcing materials. The IHEC does not have a procurement
department or any procurement procedures, said Lasham. UNAMI
Sandra Mitchell confirmed that building procurement capacity
was a priority for the IEAT.



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


Showing initiative with the voter registry


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





6. (C) Whereas the IHEC's predecessor organization, the
Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, refused to address
the issue of a voter registry until after elections
legislation is passed, the IHEC is showing more initiative
and feels that this is a task that can begin now, according
to UNAMI Sandra Mitchell. Mitchell told poloffs that the
IHEC has agreed to purchase the food Public Distribution
System (PDS) database from the Ministry of Trade. IFES
database experts would soon begin the work to convert the PDS
organized by heads of households to a database organized by
eligible voter. These experts will also need to reconcile

BAGHDAD 00002153 002 OF 002


the geographic mismatch between the food distribution
districts and the voter registration districts.



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


Growing pains


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





7. (C) With the support of IEAT, the IHEC Commissioners are
now focused on a long list of capacity-building topics.
These include department staffing reviews, legal frameworks,
procurement, security, and the employment status of the IHEC
staff, who are all on two month revolving contracts. The
commissioners are particularly concerned about security: they
do not yet have their promised International Zone housing or
armored cars. The risks they face were emphasized in May
when the family of one commissioner was killed in a red zone
mortar attack (Note: According to UNAMI Sandra Mitchell,
subsequent investigation suggested this was a random attack
and not a targeting based on the principal's new role as an
IHEC commissioner. End note).



8. (C) The new IHEC is also working through logistical
difficulties with its neighbor, the Council of Ministers
(CoM). Commissioners described how the CoM is pressuring
them to either cede space in their building and warehouse or
risk having their electricity cut off. "Are we independent
or not?" Chairman Faraj asked rhetorically. The
commissioners acknowledged that these problems were part of
the growing pains of starting a new organization and
committed to keep working until they are resolved. During
the meeting with the IHEC, poloffs noted that some of the
positive momentum built during the India training workshops
is being consumed by these infrastructure and logistical
challenges.



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


Comment


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





9. (C) Comment: Thus far, the new IHEC appears more
professional and less partisan than the previous board. The
seriousness with which they take the training offered by the
UN is reflected in their firm grasp of the steps they must
take to prepare for provincial elections. They also
demonstrated considerable initiative in tackling a voter
registry prior to the passage of any elections legislation.
End Comment.
CROCKER