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Cablegate: United Front On Political Decentralization

VZCZCXRO3814
OO RUEHBW RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1288 1481239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271239Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4116
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 001288

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A,
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CJTF-101 POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF
SUBJECT: UNITED FRONT ON POLITICAL DECENTRALIZATION

1. (SBU) United Front Spokesman Hussain Sangcharaki recently
elaborated on his political bloc's hope of transitioning to a
parliamentary system if it wins the 2009 presidential
election. While acknowledging Afghanistan's democratic
achievements since the Taliban's ouster, Sangcharaki argued
the current presidential system too easily allows a single
ethnic group to dominate the country. Karzai, he claimed,
has systematically used the presidency to favor Pashtuns.
Sangcharaki emphasized he did not blame the president
personally for this. He said Afghanistan's security
uncertainties, governmental tradition and culture would
predispose any leader towards husbanding power primarily
among members of his own ethnic group.

2. (SBU) Sangcharaki contends a parliamentary system and
elected provincial governors, district administrators and
mayors would counter this predisposition and forestall
resentment among non-Pashtun ethnic groups by offering them
more political opportunities than the winner-takes-all 2004
Constitution. He disagreed with the contention that a more
decentralized system would encourage provincial fiefdoms. He
asserted an empowered parliament would give ethnic groups
more influence in central government decision-making,
reinforcing provincial and local leaders' connection to the
capital. Sangcharaki promised the United Front would
encourage that orientation by maintaining budgetary control
in Kabul, though residing in an empowered National Assembly
rather than with the president.

3. (SBU) According to Sangcharaki, the United Front would
follow a 2009 presidential win immediately with a Loya Jirga
"to amend" the constitution. Prominent among likely
amendments would be the transfer of executive authority to a
new office of the prime minister from the presidency, which
would be relegated to a largely ceremonial role. The Prime
Minister would appoint his cabinet subject to lower house
review and approval.

4. (SBU) Neither Sangcharaki nor other United Front leaders
appear to have gamed out fully the possible consequences of
their radical decentralization ambitions. Sangcharaki was
stymied by our inquiry as to how the United Front proposes to
restrict the focus of a constitutional Loya Jirga. In
theory, once convened, a Loya Jirga could become a tool of
the more numerous Pashtun, who may be inclined to restore the
hegemony they had enjoyed for more than two centuries.

WOOD

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