Cablegate: Donors Meet with Srsg Qazi in Preparation for Elections

DE RUEHKH #0420/01 0810837
O 210837Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) 07 KHARTOUM 2041

(B) 07 KHARTOUM 2011
(C) 07 KHARTOUM 1971
(D) 07 KHARTOUM 1834

1. (SBU) Summary: In response to donor's concerns about UN slowness
on the Sudanese 2009 elections, SRSG Ashraf Qazi and the Electoral
Donors met Tuesday, March 18, to share dates, assumptions and
concerns. SRSG Qazi recognized that, as UNMIS works to build Sudan's
electoral capacities, key legislative agreements are needed from
Sudan to begin preparations. Electoral donors expressed frustration
with the slow pace of preparations and requested more frequent
high-level joint UNMIS-donor meetings. End Summary.

2. (SBU) With next month's national census rapidly approaching, and
the July 2009 (actual date is not set) election right around the
corner in terms of the need to prepare adequately, Special
Representative to the Secretary General Ashraf Qazi welcomed the
Electoral Donors Group on March 18 at UNMIS headquarters. Beginning
by agreeing to more frequent meetings, SRSG Qazi noted that Sudan is
entering an important phase in its history, making the work of the
donors essential to its democratic transition. With regard to the
census, Qazi noted that roadblocks have occurred with the Government
of Sudan (GOS) objecting to UNMIS participation. Moreover the
Government of South Sudan (GOSS) still requires final GNU funding
for the census to be released, and there are reports from Darfur of
massive Darfuri non-participation in the census (septels).

3. (SBU) Despite problems with the census, UNMIS and the United
Nations are pressing ahead and assuming that the elections will take
place in July 2009 although both parties could agree to a
postponement until late 2009 to avoid the rainy season. SRSG Qazi
distributed a draft planning list of dates for the July 2009
elections (see below). [Note: Both the census and the elections are
milestones in the CPA that must take place before July 9, 2009. The
census is important for the determination of wealth and
power-sharing at a national level, but is a separate and distinct
process from the elections, and may be linked or de-linked from the
election depending on how the much-debated but not yet approved
Electoral Law is written. Many Sudanese mistakenly believe that
electoral participation is dependent on the census. End note.]

4. (SBU) Qazi said that while the census may not result in a 100
percent accounting of the population of Sudan, once it has been
conducted election planning can move forward. The National Electoral
Law should be submitted to Parliament for ratification in early
April, as the Government of National Unity (GNU) has tentatively
reached an agreement on proportional versus geographical
representation. Following this, the National Elections Commission
(NEC) should be formed by June 15, enabling the GOS to formally make
a request for UN support, as UNMIS is ready to assist with voter
registration starting early 2009. The upcoming Sudan Consortium will
provide a forum for donors to continue to press the Government of
National Unity (GNU) on the importance of the Electoral Law, the NEC
and UNMIS support. [Note: The SPLM-NCP agreement on percentages of
the mixed electoral system is a big step in moving the draft
electoral law forward. As of this writing, however, the parties
were still in disagreement over whether proportional voting will be
based on state-level or national lists. It is unclear whether the
National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) will push the law
forward to Parliament if the parties continue to disagree on this
one point. End note.]

5. (SBU) In preparation for the elections, Qazi said UNMIS is slowly
building its own capacity on the policy side, working closely with
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to complete a set of
recommendations for an elections policy meeting on March 25.
Sensitive to the Sudanese perception that the donor community is
aloof from the policies that guide the electoral process, UNMIS is
pushing for the creation of the NEC to act as the interlocutor with
the voting public. Qazi noted that UNMIS must convince the GNU of
the need for assistance. The Carter Center, invited to act as
elections observers by the GNU but unable to gain approval to
observe the census independently, provides a preview of the
obstacles the donors may face during elections. (Note: After
concluding that they would not be afforded operational independence
by the GNU, the Carter Center refused to participate in the upcoming
census, but will keep a limited presence in country during the
census and through the electoral preparation period in order to
assess the run-up to the 2009 elections. End note.)

6. (SBU) Qazi opened the floor to suggestions from the donor
community on supporting the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), to
prevent conflict and encourage democratic transformation. Charge
Fernandez said it is critical that elections take place outside of
the rainy season and observed that preparations are moving much too

KHARTOUM 00000420 002 OF 003

slowly. He noted that independent of the actual elections timetable,
Western countries needed to intensify their non-partisan support for
capacity building and training among Sudan's political parties. Qazi
acknowledged the tight timetable, and noted that if the elections do
not occur by July 2009, there was a possibility that they could be
moved to fall 2009 as allowed by the CPA. Changing the date does
have downsides, Qazi noted. (Note: Qaai was not specific but
presumably was referring to possible civil unrest or heightened
tensions between the SPLM and NCP due to delays. End note.)
Regarding the pace of preparations, Qazi said UNMIS is sending
materials to the South on elections, but much depends on the
establishment of the NEC.

7. (SBU) UNMIS Chief Electoral Officer Ray Kennedy spoke on the
subject of the elections preparations. UNDP is currently working on
capacity building of political parties, following a model used by
UNDP Mexico to strengthen the capacity of domestic observers. UNMIS
Public Affairs recently ran a two-day gender event for women, who
had the opportunity to role-play as candidates, observers and
voters. CDA Fernandez requested more preparation on bilateral,
multilateral, and institutional fronts in order to insulate donor
preparations from the ballot box itself. The donors pressed for a
strategic action plan and asked about the capacity of UNMIS to move
immediately. In response, UNDP produced the draft of planning dates
for the July 2009 elections (see below). UNMIS is recruiting staff
to be at full operational capacity by late this summer but still
only has two fulltime staff planning for elections (Kennedy and an

8. (SBU) The UK Ambassador concurred with the sense of urgency,
thanking those assembled for the high priority they have placed on
this and upcoming meetings. Concerned that the Electoral Law has not
yet been finalized, and suggesting that "minute disagreements in the
details do not justify its inconclusive status," she recognized that
the GNU will likely pick and choose how it engages with UNMIS and
UNDP, and play one off the other. Qazi said that as the UN builds
its core election team to be ready in June, it is working to
minimize the capacity of the regime to play one side of the UN
against the other. He said the UN's role is to prepare for a request
for assistance, but it is already sending its electoral assistance
team to Sudan in April, before an official request from the NEC.
Thus, the draft of key planning dates for the July 2009 elections
(below) should be considered an operational document.

9. (SBU) The EU Ambassador noted the three critical events for donor
planning that have not yet occurred: the enactment of the Electoral
Law; the establishment of the NEC; and the hypothetical NEC request
for UN electoral support. From that date, he noted, there are only
six months to start voter registration. He suggested that, working
closely with the Carter Center, the monitoring commission should be
headed by a member of the European Parliament. The Swedish Charge
recommended shifting preparations toward direct engagement with the
population, as the National Congress Party (NCP) does not want
direct engagement with donors. Qazi emphasized that although the
South is in greater need of capacity building, and the GNU has yet
to name an interlocutor, the international community needs to work
with both the GOS and the GOSS on the monitoring preparation.

10. (SBU) Echoing CDA Fernandez, the Dutch Ambassador said the donor
community needs to identify democratic transformation activities not
directly tied to the electoral process. The EU ambassador stressed
the importance of preparatory work to positively affect perceptions.
The Canadian Charge stated his concern about the conditions for
effectively monitoring the elections - because the government can
interfere in the monitoring process, so it is therefore critical to
have a credible structure for monitoring. Qazi noted the importance
of involving African institutions in the monitoring process as well.
Qazi closed the meeting stating it was not UNMIS's intention to sit
and wait, but rather that preparations for the elections require
"sensitivity" in order to strike the correct balance among all
involved. (Comment: This is a familiar refrain for SRSG Qazi, who
does not believe that pressure is an effective tool to promote the
international community's agenda with the GNU. End comment.)

11. (SBU) Key Illustrative Planning Dates for July 2009 Elections
(Draft, UNMIS)

April 15 Electoral Law Enacted
June 15 National Elections Commission seated
July 1 NEC Request for UN electoral support
July 31 NEC completes policy decisions on registration
August 31 Registration procedures approved
September 6 Registration materials finalized
September 15 Order registration education campaign materials
September 30 Registration sites identified

KHARTOUM 00000420 003 OF 003

September 30 Registration kits ordered
October 31 Electoral boundaries final
November Distribution of registration education campaign materials
November Registration staff recruited
November 30 Registration kits received in Khartoum
December Registration kits distributed
December 15 Registration staff training completed
4th Quarter NEC offices established at state level
February 28 Data entry completed
Early March List printing/distribution, training for exhibition
Mid March Order electoral materials
Late march Exhibition of Preliminary Voters List
April Nominations
April/May Ballot design and procurement
May/June Distribution of electoral materials (non-sensitive)
May/June Campaign period
Late June Distribution of election materials (sensitive)
Early July ELECTIONS (first round)
Mid July Results announced
July 31 Results final
Late September ELECTIONS (second round)
October 31 Results final

11. (SBU) COMMENT: The tentative electoral timeline put forward by
UNMIS is ambitious and may be completely unrealistic given that the
Electoral Law has not yet been finalized and there is no NEC in
place, although it is doable if both of these items are wrapped up
within the next two months. Still, it is a useful summary of the
daunting electoral calendar ahead of us. The international
community has been frustrated with UNMIS' lack of dialogue and
coordination with the GoS on electoral preparation, especially given
UNMIS' mandate to assist the GoS in carrying out the 2009 elections.
Without an NEC in place, donors lack a GoS partner, and see SRSG
Qazi as best placed to push electoral preparations forward with
high-level GoS officials. However, to date he does not seem to be
pushing this agenda with as much vigor as required. To this end,
donors will continue to push UNMIS and SRSG Qazi to fulfill UNMIS'
electoral assistance mandate with at least monthly meetings.


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