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Cablegate: Ninewa's Provincial Council Fully Functional

VZCZCXRO7882
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1424/01 1161145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261145Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0919
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001424

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA'S PROVINCIAL COUNCIL FULLY FUNCTIONAL

This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team
(PRT) message.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) The Ninewa Provincial Council (PC) has
evolved into a fully-functioning political body that
debates and resolves provincial issues of the day.
With this maturity, Ninewa PRT has assumed a role
with Ninewa's PC that a U.S. Mission office would
normally play in a developing democracy.
Accomplishments such as passing the FY 2007 budget,
fixing potholes, organizing a committee structure
and cooperating with the other organs of provincial
power are achieved without direct PRT intervention.
Ninewa's PC has become a powerful legitimate engine
of embedded democracy in this key province. END
SUMMARY.

------------------
NO RECESS, NO PLAY
------------------

2. (U) The Ninewa PC holds full Council meetings
weekly, and its committees meet daily. During the
runup to passage of the 2007 Provincial GOI-funded
Accelerated Reconstruction and Development Fund
(ARDF) budget, the PC's Municipality and
Reconstruction Committee (MRC) and Strategic
Planning Committee (SPC) held combined hearings,
during which they called in Provincial Directors-
General (DGs) for extensive questioning.

3. (U) After two weeks of hearings, the two
committees held three 14-hour days of debate and
horse-trading to arrive at the draft 2007 ARDF
budget. PRT members observed hearings, but did
participate in the committee negotiations. After
spirited debate the draft budget was passed by the
full council with a large majority on 4 April.

4. (U) Normally nearly all PC members are present
for plenary Council sessions. For the ARDF budget
vote, only one member failed to attend. Iraqi
Security Forces (ISF) representatives, and the
Provincial Governor and Vice-Governor usually
participate. The weekly plenary session are
recorded, start to finish, and televised throughout
the province. Security -- every citizen's first
concern -- leads off, with provincial ISF senior
leadership giving a summary of the previous week's
security situation. This presentation is followed
by direct and informed questions from PC members.
The security presentation accounts for less than an
hour of a normally four to six-hour meeting.

----------------------
POTHOLES AND POLLUTION
----------------------

5. (U) The balance of plenary PC meetings are
occupied by government affairs of the same kind one
might hear discussed at a U.S. statehouse or at a
county board meeting. The PC follows an agenda
prepared by the PC Chair's staff. A few weeks ago,
a lengthy deliberation addressed the best approach
to filling potholes in sidewalks. The PC hashed
over the symbolism of simply repaving them as
opposed to planting trees instead. Last week, the
PC dealt with a report implicating a local cancer
center in dumping radioactive medical waste into the
Tigris. The PC formed an investigative subcommittee
and will bring in the center's Director for a
hearing on this matter.

6. (U) The PC's committees address the full range
of current issues in the province, from security and
reconstruction to education and religious affairs.
As noted for the MRC and SPC, committees take the
lead in their areas of responsibility. Working in
conjunction with the executive and judicial branches
of provincial government -- not always harmoniously,
but usually effectively -- these committees seek
practical solutions to constituents' problems.

7. (U) Our PRT contributes to effective constituent
relations by facilitating participation of PC
members at District and Sub-District Councils as
well as general local meetings. Local grievances
are readily apparent to PC members.

BAGHDAD 00001424 002 OF 002

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) Council members face intense insurgent
intimidation, and travel to Council meetings can
pose significant risk. To alleviate this problem,
the PC Chair facilitated sleeping quarters at
Council Hall for members who cannot safely travel
back to their homes if PC business runs late. PC
members still struggle with the challenge of running
a legislature for over two million people and a
budget of hundreds of millions of dollars with fewer
than two years' experience in this complex and
demanding role.

9. (U) COMMENT CONTINUED. Despite these
constraints, Ninewa's PC is a testament to the
intense desire of the people of Ninewa to gain real
control of their province through their provincial
representatives. Strong efforts by our PRT and our
Iraqi counterparts have yielded remarkable success -
- to the extent that televised PC sessions bear a
strikingly satisfying similarity to C-SPAN. END
COMMENT.
CROCKER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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