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Cablegate: First Meeting of the Civic and Voter Education Group

VZCZCXRO1210
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1816 3241427
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201427Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9241
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001816

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF/SE NATSIOS
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SU
SUBJECT: FIRST MEETING OF THE CIVIC AND VOTER EDUCATION GROUP


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Election Donor Group (EDG) held the first
meeting of its sub-group for civic and voter education on November
18, at the European Commission headquarters in Khartoum. The meeting
was a brainstorming session to discuss the objectives and terms of
reference (TOR) for the group, exchange information on current donor
support, and suggest ideas on potential areas of intervention. Those
present, including DFID, CIDA, the US, the UN and Norway, agreed on
the importance of coordinating donor support in the period leading
up to the elections. End summary.

2. (SBU) Donor development partners, led by the European Commission,
the Dutch and the Canadians, established the Electoral Donor Group
(EDG) to facilitate dialogue, share information and improve
international coordination with the electoral process in Sudan, with
a view of developing a common approach to electoral assistance.
(Note: The EDG is not a CPA-mandated institution. End note.)
According to the proposed TOR for the civic and voter education
sub-group, it would help contribute to a "harmonised and coordinated
response of the donor and international community in support of the
elections; a meaningful and productive dialogue and support
mechanism between the government and the international community;
and an election law that is according to international standards."
The TOR also proposes a joint "basket fund" to which donors would
contribute; poloff indicated that USG efforts would be independent
of this fund.

3. (SBU) DFID is currently preparing to move forward on an 11
million-pound project targeting civil society and media prior to the
elections, with an emphasis on reaching non-urban areas. The UNMIS
elections groups will begin sending voter volunteers to the field in
January for a ground assessment before undertaking voter education
projects. For its part, CIDA put forward a proposal through which it
would conduct a baseline study on civic and voter education projects
throughout Sudan, envisioning it initially as a resource for the
donor community. All present agreed on the necessity of coordinating
activities with the government of Sudan.

--------------------
ELECTIONS BACKGROUND
--------------------

4. (SBU) Scheduled to take place in 2009, general elections are a
major milestone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). They are
scheduled to take place on six levels: for the presidencies of the
Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Government of Southern
Sudan (GOSS); for the National Assembly and the South Sudan
Legislative Assembly; and for the governorships and state
legislatures in all 25 states. Domestic and international
institutions are already planning for the elections, although many
legal and logistic issues must be resolved before they take place.
Sudan must conduct a census; clarify or pass laws regarding
political parties and the conduct of election; embark upon voter
registration, civic education, and training of election monitors and
polling agents; and confirm the election date.

5. (SBU) The management and operational framework of the EDG asks
the Chair person to call and host a monthly meeting of the EDG, and
establish subgroups to discuss, share information and provide advice
to the EDG on specific election related areas. The civic and voter
education group is one of the subgroups included in the current six
subgroups of the EDG.

6. (SBU) The CPA states that the elections must be held by July
2009, but the date has not yet been set. Some donors are concerned
that holding the elections in July, which falls in the middle of the
rainy season, would disenfranchise southern voters. Moreover, since
the constitutions of both the north and the south call for a runoff
if a presidential candidate does not obtain more than 50 percent of
the vote in the election, planning for this eventuality must take
place as well. Currently, donors are discussing the possibility of
holding elections in February, which would allow a potential runoff
election before the beginning of the rainy season in April.

7. (SBU) Comment: Despite the current NCP-SPLM political impasse,
donors are moving forward with planning for the census (septel) and
elections. Donors were enthusiastic about the CIDA proposal, as
there is no baseline study currently in the works. Though still in
the early stages, the civic and voter EDG subgroup seems to be
moving in the right direction. The next meeting will take place in
early December. End comment.

FERNANDEZ

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