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09BAGHDAD3134 2009-12-02 19:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

ELECTION LAW UPDATE: KURDS ENGAGE

Tags:   PGOV KDEM IZ 
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1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Having been advised by U.S.,
UNAMI, and Iraqi interlocutors that their foot-dragging on
negotiations could diminish their clout with all, the Kurds
conveyed late December 2 a formal response to the Sunni-Shia
proposal. The Kurds say they are rejecting the proposal as
unconstitutional and disproportionately disadvantageous to
the Kurds, but agreed to send an empowered negotiator to
Baghdad the next day to work toward an agreement. To buy
more time for negotiators, Speaker Sammaraie has sent a
letter to the Supreme Court asking to extend the review
period for the veto. If and when the three sides reach
consensus, the Presidency Council will send a letter of
clarification to the Council of Representatives (COR) that
would memorialize the agreed terms, including the
distribution of seats among governorates. END SUMMARY AND
COMMENT.



2. (C) The meeting between the Vice Presidents, Deputy PM
Issawi and political bloc leaders that had been touted as the
forum that would devise a way forward on the election law did
not convene today, as the Kurds failed to send a negotiator
and Vice President Adel Adbul Mahdi was out of town. The
Kurds did, however, issue the official response we had
pressed them for yesterday (reftel). Fuad Hussein, Chief of
Staff to KRG President Barzani, told PolCouns that in an
email this afternoon to DPM Issawi, the Kurds rejected the
pending Sunni-Shia proposal on three grounds: (1)
inconsistent use of population data to derive seat
distribution; (2) objection to provision allowing internally
displaced persons (IDPs) to choose whether to vote in current
place of residence or the governorate from which they fled
(NOTE: This clause was subsequently stricken from the
agreement by Issawi and Hadi al-Amiri. END NOTE); and (3)
that current negotiations constitute an attempt to amend the
November 23 amendment, which the Kurds believe must be vetoed
before it is altered.



3. (C) PolCouns stressed to Hussein that now that the Kurds
have responded to the proposal, it is imperative that Kurdish
leaders send to Baghdad an empowered negotiator to reach a
resolution. Husayn countered that the it was up to the Shia
and Sunni sides to offer a new proposal, but PolCouns
insisted that the Kurds must be proactive, come to Baghdad,
and engage their counterparts. Hadi al-Amiri, lead
negotiator for the Shia, subsequently told PolCouns that
Kurdistan Alliance bloc leader Fuad Masoum had told him he
would be coming to Baghdad the following day to negotiate for
the Kurds. Amiri said he asked the Kurds to send their
technical experts to Baghdad so that experts here could
explain the current proposal more thoroughly.



4. (C) Embassy and UNAMI are enlisting Iraqi leaders to
pressure Barzani to engage in negotiations and work toward an
expeditious resolution. Charge spoke with ISCI Chairman
Ammar al-Hakim, who stated he would speak to both Barzani and
KRG PM Barham Salih to point out that they are inadvertently
helping Arab hard-liners at the expense of their more
moderate allies. Emboff met this morning with President
Barzani's son and advisor, Masrur Barzani, to urge the Kurds
to engage in negotiations and to caution against sending the
election law amendment to the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament (IKP)
for debate. UNAMI SRSG Melkert informed Charge that he will
travel to Erbil on December 3 for a meeting with President
Barzani to emphasis that the Kurds need to come to the
negotiating table, otherwise critical assistance, such as
Qnegotiating table, otherwise critical assistance, such as
UNAMI's electoral assistance program, may be in jeopardy.
UNAMI reported that support for Melkert's mission has swelled
among Sunni and Shia leaders.



5. (C) To stretch the timeframe for discussions between the
parties, COR Speaker Sammaraie endorsed a plan proposed by
UNAMI and sent a letter to Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud
requesting that the Federal Supreme Court issue an advisory
opinion that would extend the review period for the veto to
December 8 by subtracting the five days of the Eid holiday.
If supported by the Court, this move would alleviate the
pressure on Vice President Hashimi to veto the law before the
December 3 deadline. During an evening meeting with PolCouns,
Amiri reported that he had spoken with the Chief Justice, who
expressed his desire to be helpful and promised to convene a
meeting of the Court tomorrow morning. Medhat gave a more
cautious response to Emboff, telling him that the decision
would be made in accordance with Iraqi law and the
constitution.



6. (C) Should the Kurds accept the current proposal, or a
close variant thereof, the party blocs plan to meet with the
Presidency Council and ask the President and two Vice

BAGHDAD 00003134 002.2 OF 002


Presidents to send a letter to the COR seeking
"clarification" on elements of the November 23 amendment that
are currently being negotiated. As envisioned, the COR would
respond on December 8, its first day back in session after
Eid, with a letter reflecting the result of negotiations,
thus memorializing the political consensus that all parties
appear to be seeking to reach.
FORD