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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BISHKEK1514
2007-12-20 11:18:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZ ELECTIONS: MISCOUNTING THE VOTE

Tags:   PREL  KDEM  SOCI  KG 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BISHKEK 001514 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (GEHRENBECK)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2017
TAGS: PREL KDEM SOCI KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ ELECTIONS: MISCOUNTING THE VOTE


BISHKEK 00001514 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Lee Litzenberger for Reasons 1.4
(b) and (d)



1. (SBU) Summary: Despite the relatively peaceful conduct
of the Kyrgyz parliamentary vote on December 16, the
Embassy's 14 teams of observers noted widespread
irregularities and vote total manipulations. Observers in
Osh and Jalalabad oblasts recorded numerous instances of
unchallenged repeat voting. In Talas, a precinct chairman
wanted to shield the Embassy team from ballot forging,
whereas another team in Chui oblast witnessed a blackout and
subsequent questions about ballots appearing during the
blackout. The Embassy team in Talas also observed the
revision of precinct vote protocols at the town election
commission, which resulted in additional votes for the
pro-presidential Ak Jol party. With the December 20
announcement that opposition party Ata Meken will not gain
seats in parliament, questions remain as to what options Ata
Meken will pursue. End Summary.



2. (U) The Embassy fielded 14 teams composed of Americans
and local staff in all regions, except for southwestern
Batken oblast, to observe voting in the December 16 Kyrgyz
parliamentary elections.

Questionable Actions During Voting


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





3. (SBU) While the elections passed relatively peacefully,
Embassy personnel noted numerous irregularities in the
voting. In Osh, Embassy observers noted repeat voting by
students at Osh State University. At the Osh vodka
distillery, Embassy observers were escorted to another room
for registration and subsequently discovered a large number
of ballots had been deposited in the ballot box during their
absence. In Jalalabad, a voter returned to the polling
station and handed a precinct election commission (PEC)
staffer a passport with the request that he "give it back to
the owner." A man was later observed outside this same
polling station with a stack of passports, a scene repeated
elsewhere in Jalalabad oblast.



4. (SBU) Many voters were shuttled between different
precincts for voting. In Jalalabad oblast, an Embassy team
noticed a white van deposit about 10 men to vote at one
precinct. After moving to another precinct, the same Embassy
team observed the same van and voters arrive to the new
precinct to vote without any questions being raised.
Elsewhere, voter lists were padded with hundreds of
additional voters who had "returned" from work in Kazakhstan
and Russia. Police and military personnel were (illegally)
present inside many polling stations. Outside the Kok Oy
polling station in Talas oblast, a Border Guard lieutenant
colonel was overheard advising a general and the local oblast
governor in separate conversations the status of votes by

border guards marshaled to vote at the station.

Staging the Vote Count


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





5. (SBU) When an Embassy team arrived at Talas City School
#8 shortly before 20:00 to observe the closing vote count,
the PEC Chairman began making and receiving frantic phone
calls while occasionally holding a flashlight. At about
20:45, and before the ballot boxes had been opened, the PEC
Chairman pulled the local Embassy employee aside and
suggested that he do him a "favor" and escort the American
observer outside. "We were told to forge ballots," the PEC
Chairman explained to the local Embassy employee, "and we
could have convinced the other local observers to agree, but
not in the presence of a foreigner." After the Embassy team
declined the request, PEC members opened the ballot box and
began sorting (but not announcing) the votes while the PEC

BISHKEK 00001514 002.2 OF 003


Chairman continued his phone conversations with explanations
that "the Embassy is still here," "there are two of them
sitting here," and "they're still watching me." Finally,
after 22:00, the PEC Chairman posted the results on the
precinct protocol with opposition Ata Meken besting
pro-presidential Ak Jol 290 to 166, and with all remaining 10
parties receiving less then 100 votes each.



6. (SBU) In contrast to events at Talas City School #8, the
presence of an Embassy team in Sokuluk in Chui oblast did not
prevent the need for flashlights during the vote count.
Shortly after 20:00 and following the dumping of ballots onto
the counting table, the lights went out. Within 15 seconds,
numerous flashlights were ablaze. A PEC member, who then
looked at the illuminated table picked up a big bundle of
ballots and shouted "who put this in here?" The head of the
local village administration grabbed the PEC member, pulled
her away and spoke with her. Despite her objection that
"this was not right," they both returned to the table and she
began counting the bundle, containing ballots folded in a
manner inconsistent with other ballots. The lights soon came
back on. The final precinct protocol results showed a
whopping 90% turnout of 1330 voters even though local
observers in the room had recorded about 450 people voting
(to include absentee ballots) during the day. The vote count
listed 659 votes for Ak Jol, 459 for Ata Meken, 110 for the
Social Democrats and four other parties receiving less than
50 votes each.

Getting the Figures Right


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





7. (SBU) After the precinct protocols had been inked, the
PEC chairs, accompanied by police escorts, carried the
protocols and ballots to town or rayon election commissions.
In Talas City, the Embassy team saw the PEC teams arrive with
ballots over the course of several hours. The town election
commission (TEC) chairman learned of the Embassy presence and
signed off on Talas City School #8's protocol. Many other
precinct protocols, however, were revised. Talas City School
#6 saw an increase in votes from 811 registered in the
initial protocol to 1,657 in the TEC-endorsed version. Ak
Jol's vote total from School #6 subsequently increased from
231 to 1,077 while all other parties saw no change in their
figures. The total number of votes at Talas City School #5
remained the same, but the updated TEC-endorsed protocol
shaved 154 votes from numerous parties to boost Ak Jol's
total to 444, thereby matching Ata Meken's 444 votes in that
precinct.



8. (SBU) Throughout the evening and following morning (the
Embassy team in Talas stayed at the TEC until about 5:00 am),
the Embassy team noted that many TEC calculations were taking
place outside the eyes of domestic observers. An Ata Meken
observer complained to Emboff that the PEC at the Talas
hospital precinct issued blank protocols to observers and
departed with the ballots. The Embassy team observed a stack
of unattended packets (shaped in the form of ballots believed
to be from the hospital precinct) in the TEC auditorium,
which later disappeared and were later disclosed to have been
located in the TEC Chairman's office. The Ata Meken observer
complained that the vote total for the hospital precinct had
been adjusted upwards by several hundred, with Ak Jol
commanding a majority of the vote.

Comment


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





9. (C) Embassy teams saw clear cases of fraud and abuse of
administrative resources in the election. While some
domestic observers may have complained, PECs often did not
acknowledge complaints, but in other instances domestic
observers may have been cowered for fear of the consequences.

BISHKEK 00001514 003.2 OF 003


With the December 20 announcement of the parties "winning"
parliamentary seats (Ak Jol with 71, the Social Democrats
with 11 and the Communists with 8), the question remains as
to whether the conduct of the elections will cause the
opposition, and in particular Ata Meken, to pursue other
options. Embassy will comment septel in more detail about
the new parliament and the implications of the December 20
announcement.

YOVANOVITCH