Cablegate: Angolan Ngo Gives Registration Process High Marks

DE RUEHLU #0444/01 1281441
R 081441Z MAY 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: The Angolan Electoral Platform, a group of
civil society election observers, gave the voter registration
process high marks when it publicly announced results of its
months long monitoring observations. Observers were
routinely accorded access to registration centers; found that
voters understood the process; the actual registration was
conducted efficiently even utilizing personal witnesses in
absence of documentation; and found political party monitors
present in almost all registration stations. Glitches noted
were mostly related to technical difficulties or the failure
to produce required documentation. GRA officials have been
very receptive to the Electoral Platform,s findings and are
examining ways to work with it as the process continues.
Embassy Luanda commends the National Democratic Institute on
its capacity building with the Electoral Platform in
electoral process and monitoring training for its members.
End Summary.

2. (U) Background: The Electoral Platform, an umbrella
organization for election-related civil society organizations
in Angola, collected data from its election observers between
the start of voter registration on November 15, 2006, through
March 30, 2007. The Platform utilized 169 observers to cover
registration stations in 42 municipalities in 11 different
provinces. Each observation period lasted a minimum of one
hour, after which the observer completed a standard form and
submitted it to their local civil society organization. The
observation statistics detailed below are based on 2780
documented observations at 280 registration stations. The
Platform receives funding, training, and technical assistance
from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a USAID
implementing partner. End Background.

The Big Picture
3. (U) Overall the voter registration stations were ranked
"good" or "very good" in 86.6 percent of the site visits.
Only 0.8 percent received a ranking of "very poor." The
Platform also stated that 72.3 percent of observed voters had
a good understanding of the registration process. Overall,
44 percent of those registered were women, with 54.9 percent
in rural areas. However, in February only 31 percent of
observed registrations were for women. The GRA's efforts
during Marco Mulher (reftel) raised that number to 38
percent. Almost 27 percent of registration officials and 34
percent of the election observers were women.

4. (U) In most cases, observers were given access to
registration stations and allowed to freely observe the
registration process. The median registration time for the
147,043 observed registrations was eight minutes per person,
or a rate of 30 people per hour. A police presence was noted
in 85 percent of the total site visits, but the percentage
was notably higher in rural areas, at 91.3 percent.
Political party election monitors were also present during 99
percent of the site visits and between four and nine monitors
were present during 60 percent of the visits. Per Angolan
law, undocumented eligible voters can use known witnesses,
generally clergy or local leaders, to verify citizenship.
This was important in rural areas, where witness testimony
was used in 59.2 percent of cases, vs. only 16.6 percent in
urban areas.

Glitches and Hitches
5. (U) Only 8.4 percent of the total site visits noted delays
in the registration process, but in the rural border
provinces of Zaire (north) and Kwando Kubango (south) over 20
percent of cases had noted delays. Delays were generally
caused when registration officials questioned identification
documents or when political party monitors either didn't have
or refused to present their credentials. Technical problems
were also an issue; in 15 percent of site visits observers
noted interruptions in work due to technical problems.

Recommendations and Results
6. (U) The Platform presented in findings at a press
conference and recommended that the GRA implement SADC
standards for elections in order to strengthen the electoral
process and increase transparency. It reminded electoral
officials to follow the Code of Conduct outlined by the
National Electoral Commission and to encourage women to
register and work for registration stations. It also
encouraged political parties to provide more training for
their party monitors on the electoral laws and process, as
the report classified such knowledge as "weak" during many
site visits. The Platform asked all civil society and church

LUANDA 00000444 002 OF 002

organizations to continue their civil education projects, and
asked donors to support the efforts of Angolan civil society
to stabilize democratic institutions and ensure free and fair

7. (SBU) After the results were released, the Director of the
Inter-Ministerial Commission for the Electoral Process (CIPE)
Virgilio de Fontes Pereira called Platform leaders in to
discuss the press conference and observation results.
Platform Director Mathias Capapelo told Poloff that Pereira
was pleased by the positive contribution that civil society
had made and asked for more data as it becomes available.
The two also discussed challenges faced by the Platform,
namely the lack of funding and resources, and ways in which
the GRA may be able to partner with and support the
Platform's efforts. No funding or support commitments were
made at the meeting, and discussions continue.

8. (SBU) Comment: While the Platform's organized study of the
registration process is a landmark for the development of
Angolan civil society, a lack of capacity and funding is
limiting its effectiveness and growth. Of the 381 stations
open during this observation period, observers were only able
to reach 280. The vast majority of these were in urban
areas, as observers lack the logistical resources to reach
rural areas. For example, in Huila Province, observers only
reached six of fourteen municipalities and the majority of
site visits were made in the Provincial capital of Lubango.
Capapelo and the Platform now must determine if possible
government funding, which would allow the group greater reach
if it were made available, will jeopardize its independence
and impartiality. Embassy also notes that NDI has provided
excellent capacity building to the Platform in training its
monitors, and developing its ability to carry out this type
of data compilation. End Comment.

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