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Cablegate: Provincial Elections Delayed, but Moving Forward

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0899 2131241
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011241Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7680
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP 0229

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000899

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

AF/S FOR HTREGER, AF/RSA FOR MBITTRICK
MCC FOR SGAULL
USAID FOR AFR/SA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: POL PGOV PREL KDEM MZ
SUBJECT: PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS DELAYED, BUT MOVING FORWARD

REF: MAPUTO 781

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Provincial elections in Mozambique originally set
for December 20 face logistical difficulties, voter cynicism,
protest by the Muslim community, and a budget shortfall. Despite
these challenges, the GRM maintains its commitment to proceeding
with the elections, but delayed them until January 16, 2008 to
deconflict with a Muslim holiday. Local observers question whether
or not the GRM can pull off a successful election amidst funding
constraints and voter apathy. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The GRM scheduled provincial elections for December 20,
despite widespread objections from government technical staff and
civil servants (see reftel). Public opinion increasingly questions
the need for these provincial elections, considering it a waste of
resources to elect local officials with little power who meet
infrequently throughout the year. Leaders in Mozambique's Muslim
community (who form an estimated 25-40 percent of the population)
also expressed disapproval since December 20 falls on the Islamic
holy day of Eid.

3. (U) In response to growing uncertainty about the elections,
government spokesman Luis Covane told the press on July 25 that the
government would comply with the constitution and hold elections
before the end of January 2008 "as part of the growth of democracy
in Mozambique." Covane indicated that every effort would be made to
ensure the elections take place, but admitted the government had not
yet discussed how to raise the remaining money. Subsequently on
July 26, President Guebuza issued a statement announcing the
elections would be moved to January 16, 2008.

4. (SBU) The GRM budgeted only US$12 million of the estimated US$44
million needed for these elections and has lobbied the international
donor community for the balance. However, donors to date have
steadfastly refused to provide additional funding. Espousing a
commonly-held EU position, the British Ambassador said he told Prime
Minister Luisa Diogo that the GRM should budget for its own
democratic processes. Diogo replied that the GRM would do so for
their already scheduled 2008 and 2009 elections. A UNDP
representative told Poloff that international observers believe the
provincial elections could be held jointly with future national
elections and that it is not logistically possible to have adequate
administrative structures in place for the January elections.

5. (U) In the meantime preparations for the election continue apace.
The GRM is designating voter registrars and providing related
training. News media report a commitment by small political parties
to gear up for the provincial elections, and both major parties
insist they will fully participate.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Postponing the elections to deconflict with a
Muslim holiday was a necessary move, though it has left some
wondering how the GRM could have committed such a scheduling blunder
in the first place. The GRM's announcement to move forward with the
elections in the face of apparent voter cynicism and continued donor
reluctance to provide financial support has surprised many, but is
consistent with the country's constitution and has the support of
the two major political parties. The UNDP will host a meeting
August 3 to canvass again for additional donor support. Local
observers question whether or not the GRM can pull off a successful
election amidst funding constraints and voter apathy. END COMMENT.

CHAPMAN

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