PP RUEHBC RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHAM #0275 0281435
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 281435Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6804
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0433
S E C R E T AMMAN 000275
DEPT FOR NEA/ELA MGREGONIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/24/2020 TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID KMPI JO SUBJECT: JORDAN: ARE ISLAMISTS PUSHING FOR INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVERS?
REF: 09 AMMAN 1868
Classified By: Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d)
1. (S/NF) On January 25, PolChief met with a Jordanian journalist with connections to the Islamic Action Front (IAF). The journlist said that a coalition of electoral activists was forming to publicly pressure the government for meaningful reforms to electoral administration. He said that the coalition would be headed by Ahmad Obeidat, who had previously served as Prime Minister, head of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), and head of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR). According to this contact, a significant number of Jordanian Islamists have joined this diverse group of activists.
2. (S/NF) The journalist said that the group will be asking for "elections with integrity." He said that the group is primarily focused on ending corrupt electoral administration practices, with less focus on changes to the existing electoral law. "No one really expects fundamental change to the law, but there is no reason that the government should not be held accountable for the administration of this election. We are striving to hold this debate in a peaceful context, but the government should understand that the consequences will be severe if they attempt to derail the election as they did in 2007."
3. (S/NF) The contact said that he has been tasked with outreach to organizations who might be willing to send international election observer missions. "We need outsiders here to make sure that the government is on its best behavior." He has meetings scheduled with Europeans and he will reach out to members of the U.S. Senate, as well as the Carter Center, to request international observers.
4. (S/NF) Comment: This is the first time that post has heard about the formation of a group of electoral reform activists and it remains to be seen if it will, in fact, become an effective advocate for change. However, the mention of Obeidat is interesting. He has a long history of public service and won the respect of activists when he was "asked to resign" from the NCHR in 2008 after he signed a public letter along with 149 others in protest of Jordan's economic and privatization policies. It would be hard for opponents to discredit Obeidat on this high-profile issue.
5. (S/NF) Furthermore, the Islamists may be getting out in front on this reform issue with the demand for "free and transparent elections with integrity." By asking for international scrutiny of Jordan's "irregular electoral practices," they will be placing pressure on the government to produce meaningful change in 2010. End Comment. Beecroft