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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09KABUL3821 2009-11-30 18:23:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

UNAMA: BLEAK PROSPECTS FOR 2010 ELECTIONS

Tags:   PGOV PREL AF 
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FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
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INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003821 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: UNAMA: BLEAK PROSPECTS FOR 2010 ELECTIONS

REF: KABUL 3678

Classified By: CDDEA Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne; reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d).



1. (C) Summary: Setting the scene for the ambassadors
gathered at the weekly meeting at UNAMA on November 30,
SRSG Kai Eide said that if Afghanistan's Parliamentary and
District Council elections were to be held as scheduled on
May 22, 2010, they must be announced by December 27.
Therefore, the international community must take its stance
quickly, as a confrontation with Karzai on the issue could be
imminent, Eide warned. With just weeks left to make a
decision, Eide introduced a UNAMA paper highlighting the
significant remaining issues that need to be addressed before
these elections can take place. The need for a census and
greater clarity on district affiliation were also cited as
stumbling blocks to a 2010 election.



2. (C) Many ambassadors in attendance shared Eide's
concerns, advocating for postponing the elections until
necessary reforms are completed. However, a few ambassadors
dissented, opining that postponing the elections would not be
credible in the eyes of the Afghan people. Ambassador Wayne
made clear that the United States and others would likely not
be willing to fund the 2010 elections, as they had done
substantially in 2009, if not preceded by significant reforms
and other steps to assure a credible election process. Eide
said he had no intentions of taking concerns public, but
rather of talking quietly with President Karzai and others.
In a subsequent private conversation, Eide and Ambassador
Eikenberry agreed that the preferable way ahead would be to
use private conversations to bring Afghans to the point where
they agree that the best way forward would be to postpone
elections until needed reforms and other required preparatory
steps have been taken. End Summary.



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


IEC Inadequate


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





3. (C) Stating that the prospect of a May 2010 election
"doesn't look good" and that "there's no way" that UNDP-Elect
could team up with the Independent Elections Commission (IEC)
as it currently exists, Eide offered his assessment that the
issues that need to be resolved before the next elections are
nearly insurmountable in the small window of time remaining.
Even if the election were postponed until September 2010,
which Eide called permissible according to a (contested) IEC
statement from last year, he was not confident that adequate
reforms within the IEC could be made in time. "It's very
hard to see how to proceed with elections given the current
structure of the IEC," Eide stated.



4. (C) Given what transpired in the 2009 election, Eide
advocated for a stronger UNAMA role within the IEC, while
acknowledging that President Karzai opposes this increased
involvement. The international community, Eide said, will
have to tread carefully in order to achieve the reform they
seek at the IEC without sparking a controversy with the
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).
He also noted that an IEC reform law is under consideration
in Parliament, and that the international community should
discuss their priorities for the law in depth with the IEC
before it moves forward. He additionally pointed to the need
for a realistic vote registering, the need to vet candidates
and the many challenges of holding district elections.



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


Who Will Pay for It?


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





5. (C) Bluntly pointing out that the election cannot take
place if no one will pay for it, British Deputy Ambassador
Dodd noted that no country had offered funding for the 2010
election at this point. Thanking Eide for his paper and for
framing the debate on the elections, Ambassador Wayne said
that the United States shares all of Eide's doubts. He
argued that the U.S. -- and other donors -- are not likely to
be willing to pay if it is not a credible process, adding
that it will be impossible to sell the idea to our own
democratic audiences that we will pay for another flawed
election. He also noted the great unlikelihood that
significant reform of existing laws could take place in time
to allow for elections in September. Eide also questioned
how funding could be solicited under the circumstances. "I
don't see the international community giving money for
elections given the current status of the IEC," Eide said.



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



KABUL 00003821 002 OF 002


What do the Afghans Think?


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





6. (C) Before deciding to postpone the election, the Aga
Khan Foundation representative suggested that Afghans be
polled to determine what they think about the need for
electoral reform. The international community should take
into consideration whether Afghans believe that the elections
can proceed as planned, or if they deem reforms necessary, he
said. While agreeing that Afghan input was valuable, Eide
emphasized that he does not want this to become another
dispute between Karzai and Abdullah, who he believes would
oppose the postponement of the elections, but also demand
significant reform.



7. (C) Agreeing that it is important to understand what the
Afghans think, Ambassador Wayne observed that it could be
damaging to bring the issue to the Afghan public at this
time. Eide also advocated against raising the postponement
publicly at this point, but suggested that electoral reform
could be raised in London. He said he believed the way to
proceed was to have quiet dialogue with Karzai and others.
Both the Turkish and Norwegian envoys highlighted the
possible negative consequences of postponing the elections,
with the Turkish ambassador advocating that the election must
take place in 2010 to "satisfy" the Afghan people.



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


How to Win Support for Postponement?


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





8. (C) Recognizing that President Karzai tends to balk at
suggestions that the elections should be postponed to allow
for certain technical reforms, Eide posited that
reintegration is a potential hook the international community
could use to draw Karzai's support for postponing the
elections. The elections could be used as a tool for
reintegration, he said, but only if they are held later and
the reintegration strategy has time to come together. Dodd
suggested forming an Afghan-led reform commission that would
allow the Afghans to frame the answers on how to improve
their own electoral system as a way of enhancing Afghan
buy-in for the reform agenda. Eide closed by saying he would
like to write further thoughts on his paper (which post will
provide to the Department) and would try to organize a second
discussion as early as Thursday, December 3.



9. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry met privately with Kai Eide on
the evening of November 30. They agreed that the ideal would
be to postpone all elections for at least one year and in the
interim the IEC and electoral law would be reformed,
candidate vetting could be improved, good voter registration
lists established, and possibly a census conducted,
depending on security conditions. (Note: The last census
was conducted in 1979 and it was only partial due to the
eruption of violence. A census was scheduled for 2008, but
it was canceled due to security concerns.) Perhaps the
Afghans could also agree to re-look the plethora of elections
currently scheduled for the years ahead, which are neither
affordable nor sustainable. They also agreed that it would
be best not to have to force the Afghans to this perspective,
but rather try to serve as a catalyst via private discussions
to get the Afghans to reach sound conclusions about the need
for reform, reflection and postponement. This will require a
good deal of shaping with Karzai and others over the next
several months. They also reached preliminary agreement that
the next best option would be to hold parliamentary elections
and postpone district elections and that the worst option
would be to try to hold both elections in 2010.



10. (C) Comment: Embassy sees great risk of proceeding with
elections as scheduled, especially without needed reforms and
adequate preparations to make the results credible. We could
face cycles of Afghan political wrangling; managing very
imperfect electoral processes; diverting security forces from
other priority tasks; and, distracting donor attention from
efforts to build stronger institutions and develop economic
prosperity. End Comment.
Eikenberry