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Cablegate: Sub-National Governance: Amended Provincial

VZCZCXRO2839
OO RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #1712/01 1421316
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221316Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8241
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4092

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 001712

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT
RELEASABLE TO NATO/ISAF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: SUB-NATIONAL GOVERNANCE: AMENDED PROVINCIAL
COUNCIL LAW INTRODUCES DEMOCRATIC REFORMS

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) President Karzai signed an amended Provincial
Council (PC) law in late March. The law,s key elements
give parliament and the president shared authority over PCs
and give PCs a significantly expanded role overseeing
appointed elements of the provincial governments, including
the Provincial Development Committees (PDCs). The plan puts
Provincial Councils at the center of the provincial
development planning process and elevates their authority
relative to the appointed Provincial Governors and Ministry
Directors. The amended law is the most significant
democratic reform of sub-national governance since the
adoption of the post-Taliban Constitution. It represents an
important first step in clarifying and empowering a key
element in Afghanistan,s emerging system of sub-national
governance. END SUMMARY.

PROVINCIAL COUNCILS, OLD AND NEW
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Provincial Councils (PCs) are currently the only
elected institutions at the sub-national level. District,
Village, and Municipal Councils are called for in the
Constitution, but elections have not yet been held. PCs play
a key constitutional role in selecting from among their ranks
two-thirds of the members of the upper house of parliament,
the Meshrano Jirga. They were previously governed by the
November 2005 Law on Provincial Councils, a Presidential
decree which had the force of law until Parliament passed the
new, amended version. Under the old decree, PCs played a
weak advisory role in the provincial administration. They
reported annually to the Ministry of Interior (MOI), which
provided an administrative budget only sufficient to pay
salaries. PCs also faced several problems in fulfilling even
a minimal representational role, including an unclear
division of responsibilities with other sub-national units,
limited understanding of how to represent constituent
interests, lack of budgetary authority, and competition with
informal local power structures.

3. (SBU) In November 2006, Parliament offered amendments to
the November 2005 Law. Five months later President Karzai
signed a compromise version which clarifies the relationship
between PCs and the central government, and gives them a more
explicit role in provincial oversight. The amended law has
yet to be published in the official gazette, and there is as
yet no official English translation.

REPORTING TO PARLIAMENT AND PRESIDENT
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The amended law clarifies the relationship between
PCs and the Central Government by requiring that PCs submit
quarterly reports to both the President and Parliament in
place of annual reports to the Ministry of Interior. The
MOI's anemic Administration Division thus loses authority
over elected sub-national structures (i.e. PCs, and
ultimately District, Village, and Municipal Councils), but
retains responsibility for the executive branch's appointed
sub-national officials (i.e. Provincial Governors, Deputy
Governors, District Governors, Mayors and other Municipal
Officials). Administrative responsibility for PCs -- and
ultimately for all elected sub-national bodies -- passes from
the MOI to Farook Wardak's Office of Administrative Affairs
(OAA) in the Office of the President, and to its new
Provincial Council Directorate head Karim Baz.

5. (SBU) According to Baz, the amended PC law represents a
compromise between the President and Parliament by
preserving the government's role in setting sub-national
policies while formalizing existing linkages between
elected bodies at the central and sub-national levels. PCs

KABUL 00001712 002 OF 003


have ties to both houses of Parliament because they have
common constituents. Wolesi Jirga members are currently
elected on a provincial basis, and two-thirds of Meshrano
Jirga members are selected by PCs from among their ranks.
The compromise in the amended law acknowledges these ties
while insulating PCs from dependency upon the parliament for
salaries and administrative needs, particularly the Meshrano
Jirga, whose members are selected by PCs. Baz told Poloff on
May 8 that both President Karzai and the parliament want to
develop closer relationships with the PCs, and that "the
President plans to meet with the heads of PCs every two
months."

FROM AN ADVISORY TO A SUPERVISORY ROLE
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) The amended law also substantially increases PC
authority over other sub-national officials by substituting a
more robust and explicit "oversight" role over the Provincial
Administration in place of the previously vague "advisory"
role. According to Baz, the amended law requires formal PC
approval of Provincial Development Plans (PDPs), which feed
development priorities into the Afghanistan National
Development Strategy (ANDS) framework. Under the old law,
PCs only provided input into PDPs through two or three
members who, together with Provincial Governors and
Ministerial Directors, sat on the Provincial Development
Committees (PDCs) responsible for developing the PDPs. Under
the amended law, PDPs require the approval of the full PC,
which will significantly increase their role in the
development planning process and their accountability to
their electorate for the projects that are ultimately
implemented.

7. (SBU) The amended law also adds "oversight" to PC's role
in advising on the "effective use of financial resources to
the province." Baz told Poloff on May 8 that the extent of
PC financial oversight over budget and spending decision by
Line Ministry Provincial Directors is yet to be defined. How
this role is interpreted could have considerable implications
for PC authority and accountability, both at the sub-national
level and vis-a-vis the central government.

OTHER AMENDMENTS
----------------

8. (SBU) The amended law makes several additional changes.
The most significant eliminates a moral hazard faced by
current PC members by stipulating that the seat of a PC
member murdered while in office will remain vacant until the
term in office expires, rather than be filled by the
runner-up in the previous election. Vacancies resulting from
natural death, illness, resignation, or dismissal will
continue to be filled by the runner-up. Other amendments
include requiring annual elections for PC leadership (Chair,
Deputy Chair, and Secretary), requiring PCs to meet once
every 15 days, and giving PCs additional responsibilities
pertaining to environmental protection and property rights.

IMPLEMENTING THE NEW LAW; PC LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS
--------------------------------------------- ----

9. (SBU) Karim Baz told Poloff on May 8 that over the next
two months his office would be implementing the amended law
by: (1) completing translation and publication, (2) holding
annual elections for new PC leadership, (3) developing rules
and regulations interpreting the new law, including the new
oversight provision, and (4) training PC members and
informing other sub-national officials on the changes in the
law.

10. (SBU) Provincial Councils in each of Afghanistan's 34
provinces are in the process of holding annual leadership
elections from among current members for new Chairs, Deputy

KABUL 00001712 003 OF 003


Chairs, and Secretaries. Results so far from 24 PCs indicate
that less than 45 percent of the previous
officials have been re-elected. Women have been elected to
15 positions (out of 72 so far), including one Chairperson in
Bamiyan who was re-elected. With ten PCs remaining,
elections have so far proceeded without incident. (NOTE:
After a delay of several days, Energy Minister Ishmail Khan's
son, a PC member who lost his seat after spending a year
abroad, ultimately decided to withdraw his candidacy for a
leadership position in Herat before the Supreme Court issued
a decision on his eligibility. END NOTE.)

TRAINING AND RESOURCES NEEDED
-----------------------------

11. (SBU) Baz will distribute to the new PC leadership a
draft of proposed rules and regulations for discussion,
which will crucially determine the extent of the new
oversight role. Once input is compiled and the rules
approved by the Cabinet, Baz will convene a workshop later
this summer to train PC members on their new roles and
responsibilities, and several regional conferences with other
sub-national officials to inform them of the
implications of the amended law.

12. (SBU) Baz said the PCs lack secure transportation and
facilities to fulfill their expanded role. He expressed
appreciation for USG capacity building support, but lamented
a lack of adequate facilities. While Provincial Governors
have government-provided compounds, PCs lack
dedicated, permanent facilities and often meet in rented
houses. Baz asked for funds to provide secure transportation
to help PC members reach out to the district and village
levels, particularly women in the southern provinces. (NOTE:
Opinions vary about whether PCs in fact lack adequate
facilities, but Post will explore this question. Secure
transportation assistance is already included in the expanded
USAID LGCD Program to be implemented in the South and East
Regions by DAI, which has yet to be made public. END NOTE)

POSITIVE REVIEWS
----------------

13. (SBU) International observers agree that the amended PC
law is a positive development. Shahmahmood Miakhel, an UNMIK
Governance Officer and former Afghan Deputy Minister of
Interior for Administration from 2003-5, sees the amended law
an important step in elaborating the vague constitutional
provisions for sub-national governance and increasing PC
authority and accountability. NDI Afghanistan Director Allan
Freedman told Poloff that the amended law made great strides
toward expanding the role of the democratically-elected PCs
relative to appointed provincial officials. According to
Freedman, the amended PC law walks a delicate political line
by increasing PC authority and accountability without
undermining the central government.

COMMENT
-------

14. (SBU) The amended PC law is the most significant
democratic reform at the sub-national level since the
adoption of the post-Taliban Constitution. It reflects a
heightened appreciation of the value of extending central
government authority through formal, accountable sub-national
structures, and an increased willingness to give authority to
independently elected democratic bodies. PCs and their
newly-elected leadership could increasingly become key
partners for PRTs, a role
previously dominated by appointed provincial governors.
Capacity building assistance will play an important role
in helping PCs assume their expanded role. END COMMENT.
WOOD

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