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Cablegate: Niger: Donors Discuss Elections

VZCZCXRO1575
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0303/01 0711336
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111336Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4181
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000303

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

ACCRA FOR USAID/WA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV EAID KDEM NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: DONORS DISCUSS ELECTIONS

REF: NIAMEY 269

1. (U) There is an action request in paragraph 11.

2. (SBU) Summary: The GON has proposed an ambitious timetable
to create a new voters registration list in preparation for
elections in 2009, although it is not clear that registration
can take place in the north given the security situation
there. The GON is seeking $4.3 million from donors to
compile the voter registration list. The USG needs to
identify resources to support the registration and elections.
End summary.

3. (U) The Prime Minister on March 7 announced that the
National Council for Political Dialogue (known by its French
acronym CNDP), which comprises all political parties, had
recommended that local elections be postponed from July 2008
to at least January 2009. The Prime Minister also said that
CNDP had recommended amendments to the electoral code,
although he did not specify what those suggested amendments
were.

4. (SBU) On March 10 the UNDP hosted a donors meeting to
review the status of voter registration efforts. UNDP and EU
representatives briefed representations from the French,
Danish, Swiss, Belgian, Japanese and Canadian
Embassies/development organizations on their February 28
meeting with GON officials regarding elections. The GON
officials said that they proposed developing the voters list
from scratch rather than revising the existing list. The
deadline for completing the new list is November 2008, which
would allow local elections to take place in early 2009.

5. (SBU) UNDP/EU officials distributed the GON's voter
registration timetable:

-- conduct an awareness campaign, April-May, 2008;
-- conduct the electoral census, May 15-29, 2008;
-- compile the census forms and establish voting bureaus,
May-June, 2008;
-- process the forms in Niamey, June-October, 2008;
-- post the voters list, October-November 2008;
-- complete and correct the lists, November-January, 2008; and
-- prepare the final report on the exercise, January-April
2009.

6. (SBU) The officials also distributed the GON's proposed
budget for the voter registration exercise, which totals
about $9.1 million, of which $4.8 million would be provided
by the GON.

7. (SBU) The purpose of the meeting was to alert donors of
the need to fund the $4.3 million difference between the
estimated cost of voter registration and the amount the GON
plans to provide. The EU official explained that there were
several possible modalities for donor support, including
creating a common trust fund of donor contributions, or
having various donors undertake or fund specific components
of the exercise. In response to a question from one of the
donors, the UNDP and EU officials said they were not sure
that the GON's contribution was included in its 2008 budget,
but opined that the GON could seek a supplemental budget.

8. (SBU) The French DCM asked whether the registration could
take place in the north, given the security situation there.
The UNDP resident dodged the question, but said that she
could not imagine that the registration could exclude one
part of the country.

9. (SBU) In response to one donor representative complaining
that the GON had waited this long to seek donor support, the
UNDP resident representative said it was actually UNDP and
the EU -- not the GON -- that had taken the initiative to
begin working on the matter.

10. (SBU) The group agreed that it should meet monthly to
review the status of registration efforts. UNDP and EU will
send a joint mission to Niger. They will prepare a document
outlining the issues. They will seek to include an estimate
of the cost of the election itself, as well as of the
registration.

11. (SBU) Comment and action request: A key issue is whether
the voter registration can be conducted in the north given
the security situation. If not, the entire registration
timetable is doubtful, raising real questions about whether

NIAMEY 00000303 002 OF 002


the presidential and legislative elections can take place as
scheduled in November and December of next year. That said,
the USG needs to identify sources of assistance for voter
registration and elections. This was highlighted as one of
post's top priorities in its FY2009 and 2010 Mission
Strategic Plans. Successful elections would mark the first
transfer of power from one democratically elected government
to another in Niger's history.
ALLEN

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