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Cablegate: Prt Tarin Kowt - Chora Residents Turn Out to Elect

VZCZCXRO7519
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1448/01 1641227
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121227Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4351
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001448

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF
SUBJECT: PRT TARIN KOWT - CHORA RESIDENTS TURN OUT TO ELECT
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR

1. (SBU) Summary: Rozi Khan won an election for Chora's
district administrator with 30 percent of the total 2600
ballots cast. Six candidates, representing four of the
tribes in the district, vied to replace the interim district
administrator, an Afghan Army officer. Normally, the
Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) appoints
district administrators, but Governor Hamdam organized the
elections in an effort to select a district administrator
whom the differing factions would support. Hamdam also
wanted to remove local power broker Jan Mohamed Khan from the
selection process. Hamdam had secured the support of the
IDLG in advance to allow the winner to become the official
district administrator. Tribal leaders, elders and local
mullahs agreed to support the results of the election, but
Jan Mohamed Khan, who has long enjoyed President Karzai's
patronage, has already stated that he does not accept Rozi
Khan's election.

Elections ) Initiated by the Governor and Supported by Elders
--------------------------------------------- ---------
2. (SBU) Governor Hamdam announced in late May that he
planned to hold elections for district administrators in
Chora, Khas Uruzgan, and Shahid Hassas. Hamdam had just
returned from meetings in Kabul where he complained to
President Karzai about Jan Mohamed Khan's influence on
Uruzgan local politics. (President Karzai has long been
Khan's patron. The President's favoritism towards Khan has
exacerbated Uruzgan's tribal rivalries, which the Taliban
have exploited.) Khan is a former Uruzgan governor who
continues to dominate local politics, including exerting
pressure on the current governor to select his supporters for
government posts.

3. (SBU) The election was not sanctioned by the Independent
Election Commission and does not have legal standing.
However, Hamdam told PRTOff that during meetings in Kabul
with IDLG Director Popal and Jan Mohamed Khan, they agreed
that the winners of the elections would become the official
IDLG-appointed district administrators. Hamdam believed that
by holding elections, he would remove Jan Mohamed Khan from
the selection process and ensure that the district
administrators had the support of a majority of Chora's
residents.

4. (U) The nomination for the position was open to anyone who
applied. The Dutch-led PRT facilitated a district shura a
few days prior to the election to determine the mechanics and
to gain commitments that all parties would accept the results
of the election. The shura agreed on the minimum voting age
(18), methods to determine eligibility in the absence of
voter registration cards and national identification cards
(village elders would vouch for voters), privacy in the
ballot room, polling hours and monitoring procedures. The
elders decided that the election would mimic Afghan election
law as nearly as possible, but that Coalition military and
civilian representatives would act as monitors instead of the
Independent Election Commission.

The Candidates
--------------
5. (U) The initial seven candidates represented five of the
dominant tribes in Chora. Rozi Khan (Barakzai) recently
served as an unpaid caretaker district administrator in Chora
and is popular with most tribal leaders and Chora residents.
Ghulam Farooq (Popalzai) was formerly a district
administrator in Chora and in Khas Uruzgan. He is viewed as
neutral to Jan Mohamed Khan. Yar Mohammed (Achakzai) was a
former district administrator in Chora and in Deh Rawod and a
personal friend of Jan Mohamed Khan. Daru Khaksar lacked any
power base or tribal affiliations. He was the most educated
candidate, having trained as a pharmacist and having had
other higher education. Abdul Sadiq (Achakzai) is related to
Member of Parliament (MP) Abdel Khaliq Khan and to Chora
leader Malem Sadiq. Gar Mohammed (Alikozai) is a teacher
with no tribal affiliations. Mohammed Naim, who withdrew
prior to the election, had served as a police administrator
in Shahid Hassas and is viewed as an outsider in Chora.

Large Turnout of Patient and Orderly Voters

KABUL 00001448 002 OF 002


-------------------------------------------
6. (U) The polls opened at the Chora District Center at 7
a.m., and more than 2000 locals had gathered outside the
center by 8 a.m. The crowd was calm and orderly during the
long wait; some waited more than six hours to vote as
candidates offered them water and candy and solicited their
votes. Throughout the day, Governor Hamdam distributed water
to the voters and thanked them for coming. He spoke of the
importance of picking the best leaders and reminded them that
they could make their own choices without accepting their
mullahs or leaders' choices. Some of the candidates rented
vehicles to bring voters from the more remote areas. The
mood was generally upbeat; several voters stated that they
were tired of current leaders who "stole from them" and
wanted to pick someone better.

7. (U) Most of the voters did not have voter registration
cards or national identification cards. Few had ever voted,
and monitors explained the voting process to each of the
voters in the ballot room. Monitors inked voters' thumbs and
took their pictures to discourage fraud. Two younger voters
attempted to wash off the ink and vote again but were caught
and detained until after the polls closed at 4 p.m.

8. (U) The six candidates, Governor Hamdam, the police
administrator, Afghan National Army Brigade Commander, Dutch
Polad and U.S. PRTOff observed as two Tarin Kowt-based judges
counted the ballots. Rozi Khan received 851 (30 percent) of
the 2600 votes counted. Next was Gar Mohammed with 669
votes. Some voters expressed their disappointment with the
outcome, but there were no demonstrations and the crowd
dispersed in an orderly fashion.

Jan Mohamed Khan Reacts Negatively
----------------------------------
9. (U) Jan Mohamed Khan has protested to the Dutch-led PRT
that he would not accept Rozi Khan as district administrator.
He is reportedly in Chora telling elders that the election
was rigged and that ballots were destroyed. The Governor has
asked the PRT to meet with Jan Mohamed Khan to remind him
that he agreed in advance to accept the results.

Outstanding ANSF Coordination
-----------------------------
10. (U) Cooperation among all Afghan National Security Forces
was excellent. Insurgents had threatened to disrupt the
election by attacking the District Center. The Afghan
police, army and National Directorate for Security jointly
planned and executed a layered defense around the city,
searching all vehicles that entered the town and all
individuals who entered the center. Despite the fact that
the election took place on the one-year anniversary of heavy
fighting in Chora between Coalition and insurgent forces,
which resulted in civilian deaths, there were no security
incidents or violence.

DELL

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