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Cablegate: Ndi in Bahrain: Update

VZCZCXRO8194
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0061 0341229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031229Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7570
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS MANAMA 000061

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR NEA AND DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV BA
SUBJECT: NDI IN BAHRAIN: UPDATE

REF: 07 MANAMA 0661

1.(SBU) Summary: Following a protracted negotiation over the terms of its relationship with the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD), NDI has successfully conducted one parliamentary training project and has received positive GOB reaction for further programs in February, March, and April. End summary.

2.(SBU) NDI and the BIPD concluded a partnership agreement in July 2007 that paved the way for NDI's return to Bahrain (reftel). During the negotiations, BIPD Board of Trustees President Lulua Al-Awadi pressed to bring NDI "under the umbrella" of the BIPD in order to exert maximum control over its activities. NDI Senior Adviser Scott Bates declined to accept those terms, and Al-Awadi eventually agreed to a "partnership" arrangement. Bates noted in a meeting with Charge on January 30 that Al-Awadi continues to "needle" NDI in the press.

3.(SBU) Bates was in Manama to meet with BIPD and GOB officials in preparation for a parliamentary training program on February 21. The program aims to educate MPs how to better communicate with their constituents about the work they have done on their behalf. Bates said that BIPD Executive Director Ibrahim Al-Rumaihi had proven easy to work with and was supportive of the parliamentary training project. NDI plans to conduct training for MPs in March and April as well. NDI also hopes to conduct a program for MPs in the fall, contingent on a pending grant request, on the role of political societies in the legislative / executive relationship.

4.(SBU) The February program follows on the heels of a similar training program conducted on October 31, 2007. At that time, Bates was pleased with NDI's reception and the newly cooperative relationship with the BIPD, but believed that the real test would come during future visits as NDI sought to reconnect with previous partners on an informal basis. During the meeting with Charge, Bates said that NDI had encountered no resistance from the BIPD or others in meeting informally with its "old friends."

5.(SBU) Comment: After a rough patch in 2006 and 2007, during which NDI suspended operations in Bahrain, it has now resumed an ambitious slate of activities and seems to have established a cooperative relationship with the BIPD. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** HENZEL

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