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Cablegate: Observers Say Nigerian Elections Flawed

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUJA #0771/01 1141230
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241230Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9269
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 6665
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHCKJAC/JAC MOLESWORTH JCDX RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ABUJA 000771

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM NI
SUBJECT: OBSERVERS SAY NIGERIAN ELECTIONS FLAWED

1. Summary: In a series of press conferences, the five main
international observation groups said that the Nigerian
elections were characterized by poor organization, lacked
transparency and were marred by widespread irregularities.
The elections, as a result, fell far short of international
standards. The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and
the Commonwealth did not make any sweeping conclusions, but
rather detailed a long list of irregularities its observers
witnessed. The ECOWAS delegation noted voting and counting
irregularities and the Commonwealth delegation referred to
the elections as "vexed." The European Union Election
Observation Mission, which rendered the bluntest statement
concluded that "the elections have not lived up to hopes and
expectations of the Nigerian people and the process cannot be
considered to have been credible." The International
Republican Institute (IRI) noted the elections fell "below
the standard set by previous Nigerian elections and
international standards," and the National Democratic
Institute (NDI) concluded that "the cumulative effect of the
serious problems its delegation witnessed substantially
compromised the integrity of the electoral process." End
Summary.

EUROPEAN UNION: ELECTIONS NOT CREDIBLE
---------------------------------------

2. The European Union Election Observation Mission deployed
more than 150 observers from 21 countries. The leader of the
delegation Max van den Berg had also observed the 2003
elections in Nigeria. In its hard-hitting report, the EU said
the elections lacked credibility as a result of "poor
organization, lack of transparency, widespread procedural
irregularities, significant evidence of fraud, voter
disenfranchisement, lack of equal conditions for contestants
and numerous incidents of violence." At a press conference
on April 23, van den Berg called the group's statement
perhaps the toughest ever and blamed INEC and the ruling
party for many of the irregularities. He called the announced
results "magic" and said the 2007 elections did not measure
up to the low standards set in 2003.

3. The EU called for a more independent election commission.
It noted that INEC's dependence on the executive and its
selective application of electoral legislation led to a lack
of confidence among election stakeholders. The EU concluded
that the performance of the judiciary was one bright spot in
an otherwise deeply flawed electoral process.

COMMONWEALTH AND ECOWAS: A LITANY OF IRREGULARITIES
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. The Commonwealth and ECOWAS delegation statements did not
draw broad conclusions in their statements. Both focused on
detailing the long litany of irregularities its observers
witnessed. The ECOWAS delegation headed by Dr. Dawda Jawara,
former President of Gambia, noted that there were substantive
problems which robbed voters of the secrecy of vote, the
potential for multiple voting and a lack of accountability
for the voting material. The delegation report also noted a
litany of logistical problems ranging from a shortage of
voting materials to voting booths and that the vote counting
was not systematic or timely and led to legitimate concerns
"seriously challenging the transparency of the collation and
tabulation of elections results."

5. The Commonwealth delegation, headed by former Tanzanian
Prime Minister Joseph Warioba, said it noted some improvement
in the conduct of the second round of elections on April 21,
but that both rounds had significant shortcomings. Irregular
polling hours, and distribution of polling materials were
important problems, as was the lack of accountability of the
last minute printing of presidential ballots which lacked
serial numbers. Overall INEC's announcement that it needed to
redo elections in at least six states was an admission of the
impact of problems noted by Nigerian voters and international
observers.

IRI AND NDI: BELOW ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS AND A STEP BACKWARD
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

6. IRI said that Nigeria's elections fell below acceptable
standards. Its delegation was headed by Ambassador
Pierre-Richard Prosper, Abbe Apollinaire Malumalu (President
of the Indepedent Elections Commission in the Democratic
Republic of Congo) and Andras Gyurk (a Hungarian member of
the European Parliament). The statement noted that the poor
election was the cumulative effect of poor preparations
starting with voter's registration, and political efforts to
"bypass Nigeria's constitutional process to selectively
disqualify candidates running for office." IRI concluded that
"these elections did not measure up to those observed by the
members of IRI's international delegation in other countries
whether in Africa, Asia, Europe or the Western hemisphere."

7. NDI's delegation, headed by former Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright and former Canadian Prime Minister Joe
Clark, noted that the electoral process failed the Nigerian
people. The cumulative effect of the serious problems of the
delegation witnessed substantially compromised the integrity
of the electoral process. NDI, like all the international
observer groups, noted a long list of electoral
irregularities including a failed voter's registration, voter
fraud and intimidation and a lack of transparency in
tabulations of results. The cumulative impact "represents a
step backward in the conduct of elections in Nigeria, and ...
threatens to further erode citizen confidence in the
country's democratic institutions."


CAMPBELL

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