Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09KABUL1274
2009-05-19 04:51:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

CANDIDATE VETTING INCHES FORWARD

Tags:  KDEM PGOV AF 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO7522
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1274/01 1390451
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 190451Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8983
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001274 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2019
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: CANDIDATE VETTING INCHES FORWARD

REF: A. 08 KABUL 3197

B. KABUL 1232

Classified By: Political Counselor Alan Yu, Reasons 1.5 b and d

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001274

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2019
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: CANDIDATE VETTING INCHES FORWARD

REF: A. 08 KABUL 3197

B. KABUL 1232

Classified By: Political Counselor Alan Yu, Reasons 1.5 b and d


1. SUMMARY: Candidate vetting took another small step
forward on May 17, as the Afghan government and the
international community agreed to send to the Electoral
Complaints Commission (ECC) an evidence-based list of 110
provincial council candidates linked to illegal armed groups
(IAGs),and as many as four presidential or vice-presidential
candidates who failed this criterion of the electoral law.
The painstakingly crafted IAG vetting mechanism now is on
track to exclude some notorious candidates, sending an
important signal to the public about the legitimacy of the
electoral process. Moreover, because this vetting process
relies on evidence and legal standards, it represents a
significant advance toward the rule of law. The choice of
voters to vote for or defeat the remaining "bad guy"
contenders will be the final "vetting" of the candidate list.
END SUMMARY.


WHO'S A WARLORD CANDIDATE? FOR THE PROVINCIAL COUNCILS
-------------- --------------


2. (C NF) Article 15.3 of the electoral law states
"Individuals who practically command or are members of
unofficial military forces or armed groups shall not be
qualified to candidate themselves for the elections." Under
other law, an illegal armed group is any group with at least
five weapons which is neither part of the Afghan security
forces nor licensed by the Interior Ministry. The Afghan
government's Disarmament and Reconciliation Commission (DRC),
in cooperation with UNAMA and ISAF, reviews information
regularly submitted by the Ministry of Interior (MOI),the
Ministry of Defense (MOD),the National Directorate for
Security (NDS),and the provincial governors to determine who
is a member of an illegal armed group. The DRC, better known
as DIAG, worked hard to improve its data in the run-up to
elections, and by May had updated its list for all 34
provinces.


3. (C NF) Mohammed Stanekzai, Vice Chairman of the DRC, on
May 17 briefed Afghan security players and international
community representatives that his team had reviewed the
Independent Election Commission's preliminary list of 3,324
provincial council candidates and identified 110 members of
illegal armed groups. In comparing the preliminary candidate

list with the DIAG list, the DIAG team found 120 names of
possible warlords. For all 120 names, DIAG once more
reviewed the evidence and, for ten names, found the available
information inadequate, leaving 110 names on the "warlord
candidate" list for provincial councils.


PRESIDENTIAL AND VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DQ'S
--------------


4. (C NF) On presidential and vice-presidential candidates,
Stanekzai reviewed a list of five names with the group,
seeking a solid consensus on DIAG's planned course of action.
Stanekzai put two names solidly on the disqualified list.
Presidential contender Alhaj Abdul Ghafor Zori appears on the
DIAG list, with clear and recent information detailing his
possession of illegal weapons. Badghis-based
vice-presidential candidate Zia-u-din (on the ticket of
presidential aspirant Sangin Mohammed Rahmani) also appears
on the DIAG list, with links to two local illegal armed
groups.


5. (C NF) For two other names, Stanekzai sought the advice
of the group. Akbar Bai, a rival of former Uzbek warlord
Dostum, was dealing arms as recently as 2008, according to
DIAG information. After some discussion, Stanekzai resolved
that the group was in agreement to place Akbar Bai on the
disqualified list. For presidential candidate and Lower
House MP Mullah Adbul Salaam Raketi, Stanekzai is looking to
the Afghan security forces, including the intelligence
service NDS, to add recent information on participation in an
illegal armed group to the dossier on Raketi. Raketi passed
the badly flawed candidate vetting for the 2005 legislative
elections and, according to the information available to
DIAG, has not since been actively involved in fighting. He
remains, however, known as a commander who fought alongside
the Taliban. Stanekzai indicated he expected to be able to
put Raketi on the DIAG disqualified list by May 18.



6. (C NF) Regarding President Karzai's running mate for
first vice president, Marshall Mohammed Qasim Fahim Khan,
Stanekzai noted that DIAG has no information linking Fahim to
an illegal armed group and could not send his name forward to

KABUL 00001274 002 OF 002


the ECC as disqualified on these grounds. Fahim, a former
mujaheddin commander and leader of the Northern Alliance's
military forces after the 2001 assassination of Ahmed Shah
Massoud, appears in DIAG records as having completed
disarmament, with his lieutenants integrated into the Afghan
security forces and his 100-man personal security detail
under MOI license.


NEXT MOVE AT THE ECC
--------------


7. (C NF) On May 18 DIAG will send this 110-name provincial
council list and the shorter presidential list to the
Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC),the independent body
charged with examining candidate qualifications and
violations of the electoral law (ref B.) The ECC published
its "Policy on Challenges to Candidates Who Are Members of
Unofficial Forces or Armed Groups" on May 15 (forwarded via
email to SCA/A.) The ECC will notify these candidates that
they do not qualify to run and the basis of the
disqualification - for the 110 provincial council names, and
the short list of other names, this will be Article 15.3,
membership in an illegal armed group. Candidates who wish to
disarm and remedy their disqualification must do so through
the regular DIAG process, and complete their disarmament
before the ECC passes the final list of candidates to the IEC
on June 9.


8. (SBU) In addition to the requirement of Article 15.3 (no
membership in an illegal armed group),the ECC will also
examine other aspects of candidate qualification. Persons
convicted of crimes, for example, may be disqualified. The
public may also submit challenges to candidates'
qualification to the ECC. The ECC will only consider
challenges based on law, as ECC Chairman Grant Kippen
stressed in a May 12 press conference (ref B.)


BETTER THAN LAST TIME
--------------


9. (C NF) Rampant politicking marked the 2005 candidate
vetting process, and many Afghans express disgust at the
"warlord parliament" that resulted. As UN SRSG Kai Eide
noted at the May 17 meeting, DIAG must still stand firm on
disarmament requirements for those candidates who seek to
remedy their disqualification. The UK has unresolved
questions about a few names from Helmand, which may or may
not have been confirmed as on the DIAG list. The Canadians
reportedly have similar concerns for some names in Kandahar.
If these Helmand and Kandahar names were removed from the
disqualified list after entry to DIAG, we will investigate
whether these persons indeed met the standard for
disarmament. Separately, Stanekzai reminded the group that
this time, legislators are likely to try to exert political
pressure on both DIAG and the ECC.


10. (C NF) Despite these challenges, DIAG has shown respect
for due process as well as considerable political courage in
developing its list and passing it forward to the ECC. Among
concerns that some "bad guy" candidates who do not meet the
IAG criterion will remain on the list, Stanekzai note that
disarmament overall means the judicial system now has a
better chance of bringing suspected criminals to justice and
ensuring their exclusion from politics. As for voters, they
too now have a freer choice to vote, if they choose, in favor
of change and against the legacy of the violent past.
EIKENBERRY