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Cablegate: Eu Elections Report Mixed Bag of Valid

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0875/01 0932308
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 032308Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9719
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000875

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND EUR/ERA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM NU XG
SUBJECT: EU ELECTIONS REPORT MIXED BAG OF VALID
RECOMMENDATIONS, SKEWED CRITICISM

REF: MANAGUA 0627

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reason 1.4 (d)

1. (C) Summary: The European Union's final report on
Nicaragua's national elections -- belatedly released on March
30 -- contains several useful recommendations, but
soft-pedaled direct criticism of the Sandinista National
Liberation Front (FSLN) while unjustifiably bashing the USG
and Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN). The reports key
conclusions, which are in line with our post-electoral
assessment and dovetail with CEPPS extension activities,
focus on de-politization of the Supreme Electoral Council
(CSE) and reform of the civil registry and citizen/voter ID
application process. With the likely intent of making the
report more palatable to the current administration, the EU
chose to highlight USG "interference" in the electoral
process over the much more direct subsidies and endorsements
offered by Venezuela. End Summary.

2. (SBU) European parliamentarian Claudio Fava, head of the
EU's Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) in Nicaragua,
released the EU's final election report to the public on
March 30. Only about a dozen individuals from the diplomatic
corps various civil society groups attended the 30-minute
briefing, which seemed to have been deliberately down played
and indeed was rescheduled at the last minute. No one in the
U.S. mission received an invitation to the briefing (USAID
Democracy Officer attended anyway), which had been originally
set for February, but shifted because of Fava's alleged ill
health.

EU Recommendations Track With Others
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (SBU) The EU EOM's recommendations focus largely on
de-politization of the CSE, controlled at every level by the
two majority parties, and reformation of the citizen/voter ID
(cedula) and civil registry process. The report also
criticized the CSE for the extremely slow release of voting
results after the election and its failure to publish a full,
final vote count. The report implies, however, that the
secrecy surrounding the final vote tally by voting station
did not substantially impact the final results because of the
relatively low number of challenges registered by the
political parties. (Comment: The Europeans failed to make
the connection between the challenges and the reality of
incomplete information from the CSE, which likely affected
the outcome of several deputy races. Moreover, the
challenges were difficult to file without full input from the
CSE. End Comment.) The summary notes CSE efforts to hinder
cedula issuance/distribution to Nicaraguan's not affiliated
with the ruling parties, but does not correctly identify the
significant magnitude of the problem.

4. (U) The following is a summary of key recommendations in
the EU report:

A. ELECTORAL ADMINISTRATION:

-- Reform electoral law to guarantee selection of
professional, qualified, apolitical CSE magistrates.
-- Apply Civil Service and Administrative Career Laws to the
selection of CSE officials at all levels.
-- Reform process of selecting voting station officials to
ensure equitable representation from all political parties.
-- Ensure detailed regulations are in place to compensate for
ambiguities in electoral law.
-- Encourage greater transparency of electoral administration.

B. CIVIL REGISTRY:

-- Update, simplify, and standardize civil registry
procedures for all municipalities, including computerizing
entire registry process.
-- Highlight importance of cedula as a general identification
document rather than simply a voter ID card.
-- Enhance CSE supervision of municipal level registration
process.
-- Develop safeguards to prevent double inscription and
ensure deaths and other status changes are registered.
-- Implement campaign to educate rural population on
importance of registering.

C. VOTERS REGISTRY (PADRON ELECTORAL):

-- Simplify process to request, produce and distribute

cedulas.
-- Remove political party control over CSE municipal offices.
-- Open permanent municipal cedula offices.

D. PUBLICATION OF RESULTS:

-- Identify clear rules for publishing preliminary results to
ensure transparency of process, including detailed breakdown
of voting station results.
-- Final results, including detailed voting station results,
should be published on the CSE web site.

E. ADJUDICATION OF ELECTORAL CHALLENGES/APPEALS:

-- Establish independent mechanism to resolve electoral
challenges and appeals.

4. (SBU) Note: On March 12, the U.S., German, and Japanese
Ambassadors met with CSE president Roberto Rivas to discuss
the CSE's planned cedula reforms. Rivas claimed that the CSE
is open to many of the suggested reforms regarding the civil
registry and cedula process, but lacks the funds to fully
implement them (reftel). End Note.

Report Equates U.S. with Venezuela and ALN with PLC
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) The EU report highlights alleged U.S. "external
interference" as a negative factor affecting the electoral
campaign. According to the EOM, this interference came
"mainly from U.S. Government officials and U.S. deputies
(sic) against the FSLN presidential candidate and, to a
lesser extent, against the PLC candidate and in favour of the
ALN candidate." The Venezuelans also interfered, the report
admits, but "on a lower level... by providing some fertilizer
and petrol to FSLN-run municipalities and institutions on
preferential terms, and by expressions of its support for
Ortega and the FSLN." Interestingly, while minimizing the
actions of the Venezuelan government, the report is able to
detail specific examples of Venezuelan meddling while only
making vague statements about USG interference.

6. (SBU) The summary points out that "the PLC and ALN
presidential candidates used inflammatory language against
each other and against the FSLN presidential candidate, who
focused his campaign on reconciliation and avoided
confrontation." However, it does not clarify that the PLC's
attacks on the ALN were much more frequent and vicious, or
that the CSE specifically sanctioned the PLC for releasing a
fake announcement that the ALN candidate had withdrawn just
days before the election. Nor did the report mention that
Ortega's campaign was also directed at buying off and/or
extorting candidates from rival parties.

Comment: Too Soft on Chavez
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) While the EU report certainly includes some valuable
recommendations, it downplays or omits some notable
transgressions and unjustifiably criticizes the USG. The
summary only alludes to Chavez' direct endorsement of Ortega
and misrepresents/distorts our role, which never included an
endorsement of a specific candidate and conveniently omits
mention of our support for all reformist parties, including
the left-leaning MRS. Unfortunately, the orientation of the
report and its (deliberately?) underwhelming release may well
foreshadow the Europeans' continued reluctance to call the
FSLN to account on upholding democratic ideals.
TRIVELLI

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