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Cablegate: Maldives: International Donors Meet to Plan

VZCZCXRO6256
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0632/01 1821134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301134Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8350
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0976
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7965
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6137
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4463
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2135
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 8571
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6016
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2840
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000632

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND SCA/RA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM MV
SUBJECT: MALDIVES: INTERNATIONAL DONORS MEET TO PLAN
ELECTION SUPPORT

REF: COLOMBO 496

1. (U) Summary. Representatives from interested donor
countries met in Colombo on June 20 to review the status of
preparation for Maldives' presidential election in Fall 2008,
discuss the assistance plans of the UN, Commonwealth
Secretariat (CS) and European Union, and identify individual
donor's pledges of support to the election process.

Tight Timeline for Election Preparation
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) UK Deputy High Commission Mark Goodman reported
that the GORM now says elections will most likely be held in
October, after Ramadan. For now, he said, the GORM is not
considering a further postponement and is not ready to
question the constitutional deadline of November 10 for
swearing in a new president. NGO Transparency Maldives gave
a presentation to the donor group on the status of election
preparations. The group concluded that, even with the delay
of the election to October, time is very tight to allow the
constitution to be ratified, implementing legislation to be
passed, and for key commissions and institutions to begin
operating in time to oversee the election effectively. TM
noted that even under the best scenario, the commissions will
have only a month to operate before the election, giving them
very little time to prepare for elections.

International Support to the Election Process
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The UN has indicated that no final decision has
been made on what level of support it will provide to the
election process. Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid,
however, has indicated that the UN intends to play little, if
any, role in the upcoming presidential election.

4. (SBU) The Commonwealth Secretariat is still formulating
its approach. A scoping mission is planned for August to
help determine the appropriate level of support. At a
minimum, the CS is likely to be present on the day of the
vote and to issue a statement on the result. According to
Goodman, the CS plans to coordinate its efforts closely with
the EU.

5. (SBU) The EU plans two stages of support. A four-member
European Commission (EC) preparation team is already in place
in Male' and will stay until the election. This team will
advise the GORM on preparing election legislation, educating
voters, and developing a complaints and appeals procedure. A
three-member EC reporting team will be deployed one month
before the election and will stay until two weeks after the
vote to report on the election. The EU plans to issue an EU
Presidency Statement on the day of the election. The
reporting team will not be a full EU Election Observation
Mission, but will produce a detailed report on the
performance of the election for the EC and EU, which may be
circulated more widely.

6. (SBU) Eleven missions in Colombo have indicated their
desire to support the election process by providing
short-term diplomatic observers (STDOs). At least 20
observers from these missions (EC, Australia, Italy, Germany,
US, Norway, UK, Switzerland, Canada, France, Netherlands)
will augment the EC reporting team's observation efforts.
Individual sponsoring countries will be responsible for
funding their own observers but some logistical and
coordination work will be handled by the EC. The STDOs will
be deployed primarily to polling stations in major population
centers, but some will go to more distant peripheral atolls.
They will be deployed for between 4 and 10 days, depending on
the needs an budgets of the donating missions. The EC
reporting team will help train the STDOs in election
observation methodology. All information from these efforts
will be shared with all participating missions and the CS so
that any statements issued are based on the same raw data.

Next Steps

COLOMBO 00000632 002 OF 002


----------

7. (SBU) The donor countries agreed to meet again in late
July or early August to confirm support and review deployment
schedules. The UK offered to prepare some draft common
messages on the elections so that the donors can better
deliver a consistent message to the GORM. Australia
undertook to check into and report on whether SAARC is
planning to provide any election assistance. The UK and EC
agreed to update the GORM CS plans and to seek GORM agreement
on hotel and transport arrangements for observers.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The donor community's combined efforts
and resources will gather many small contributions into one
meaningful package. A group of 20 or more observers should
be able to get a good sense of how well the election is run.
Key challenges in organizing this observer effort will be the
short timeline for planning and continuing uncertainty about
the date of the election. It will be important to encourage
the GORM's progress on reform without condoning elections
before the necessary independent institutions are in place.
MOORE

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