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09KABUL1100 2009-04-30 14:15:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
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1. (SBU) Campaign staffers for United Front (UF)
presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah hope to lock in vice
presidential nominees by May 2 and register their candidate
with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) by May 4.
Several UF top choices for the First Vice President position
have turned down the UF's offers, while its choice for 2nd
Vice President, Hazara leader Haji Mohammed Mohaqqeq, has yet
to commit. Abdullah has moved to woo Nangarhar Governor Gul
Aqa Sherzai to drop his own bid for the presidency and join
the UF ticket.

2. (SBU) Former Lower House MP Saleh Registani, who resigned
from Parliament last month to focus on the Abdullah campaign,
told PolOff of the UF's thus far unsuccessful efforts to
secure a strong candidate for the First Vice President slot.
Registani noted Pashtun royalist Mustapha Zahir had turned
down Abdullah's offer to join the campaign and now sided with
President Karzai. Registani said Abdullah would now approach
Nangarhar Governor Sherzai, suggesting Abdullah might offer
Sherzai significant influence over the "Loya Kandahar"
region, specifically the authority to appoint local officials
and direct security policy in the Kandahar area. Sherzai
will be in Kabul this week to discuss the UF's proposal.
Registani admitted the defections of UF members Zahir and
Marshall Fahim to Karzai's campaign hurt the vice
presidential search (reftel).

3. (SBU) Repeated UF efforts to merge campaigns with former
Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali, Lower House Deputy
Speaker Mirwais Yaseni, and former Finance Ministers Ashraf
Ghani and Anwarulhaq Ahadi have failed. Although Karzai's
team is expected to come out on top during the first round of
balloting, the UF leadership now sees its best strategy as
keeping major opposition candidates in the race to draw votes
away from Karzai in the initial round, keeping him under 50
percent of the total vote and thus forcing a second round.
The UF believes Abdullah would capture second place in first
round voting and would then move to resume negotiations with
other major contenders during the period before the second
round in October, with Abdullah angling to receive the lion's
share of support from those candidates who did not make the

4. (SBU) Registani did not expect any problems in formally
registering Abdullah's campaign next week. He and other top
lieutenants had contacted UF offices in 17 provinces and
requested each office collect 500-1,000 signatures. Within
three days, the campaign had well exceeded the necessary
10,000. The UF hopes to have campaign offices opened in all
34 provinces within three weeks.