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09YAOUNDE36 2009-01-14 16:14:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Yaounde
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1. (SBU) European Commission Ambassadors based in Cameroon
decided in a January 13 meeting to seek a freeze of support
to the recently created, seriously flawed Electoral
Commission ELECAM (reftels). According to Claude Bochu,
Political Advisor to the European Commission in Cameroon, the
European Ambassadors decided to suggest to their headquarters
that the EC indefinitely freeze preparations to initiate a
2-3 million Euro program earmarked from the European
Development Fund to support ELECAM in 2010. To go forward,
this program needs approval by March 2009, he said. The EC
will wait to see how ELECAM evolves (for example, who they
recruit for the hundreds of jobs they will need filled)
before considering lifting this freeze. In addition, the
Ambassadors decided not to move forward with four planned
prepatory studies for ELECAM valued at 135,000 Euros (and
making up a large percentage of the UN program's ELECAM
budget), Bochu said, noting that two other such studies have
already been completed.

2. (SBU) Bochu was confident the European capitals would
support these moves, saying that many of their initial
reactions were even more radical. The January 13 decision
has not yet been made public, Bochu said, but he thought the
EC might be in a position to comment publicly very soon. It
might take up to ten days for an agreed European Union
position, he thought.

3. (SBU) The EC and Commonwealth rep will likely inform
Prime Minister Inoni about this decision in a planned meeting
the Ambassador will also attend (representing the 8 plus 6
group) on January 15. This will no doubt get the PM's
attention, although we question his ability to influence
ELECAM decisions. Ambassador will also discuss ELECAM in a
scheduled meeting with the Secretary General at the
Presidency on January 16. Bochu did not have big
expectations that the GRC would change their ELECAM plans as
a result of the EC decision. However, the move makes it more
likely we will see the Commonwealth and EU take a firm
position on this issue, which could prove to be the biggest
rebuke of the Biya regime by the international community in
recent years.