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Cablegate: U.S. Elections: Moz Asks "What's in It for Us?"

VZCZCXRO3019
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0636/01 1911545
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091545Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9081
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0191

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000636

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAO MZ
SUBJECT: U.S. ELECTIONS: MOZ ASKS "WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?"

1. SUMMARY: The Charge spoke on July 1 to an audience of 60
including members of civil society, the diplomatic community,
several minority party leaders and press about the U.S.
elections in a panel-debate hosted by the Center for
Mozambican and International Studies (CEMO). Audience
members focused on the possibility of an Obama administration
and what that meant for Africa in general. Mozambican
panelists lauded the U.S. electoral system, particularly for
its inclusive progressiveness. Panelists and audience alike
seemed mesmerized by the idea of a minority U.S. President
with ties to Africa. Many in Mozambican civil society are
concerned about how free and fair their own systems are in
light of recent election-related irregularities and violence
in Kenya and Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On July 1 the Charge spoke to 60 members of civil
society, academics, diplomatic corps, minority party leaders,
and press about the U.S. elections in a panel-debate hosted
by the Center for Mozambican and International Studies
(CEMO), supported by a PAS grant. The Charge was joined on
the panel by Ali Jamal, docent of the Superior Institute of
International Relations (ISRI), and Salomao Moyana, editor of
Magazine Independente.

-------------------------
OBAMA: AFRICA'S CANDIDATE
-------------------------

3. (U) Jamal reiterated a common local view that due to his
African-American background, should Senator Obama win in
November, Africa would reap the dividends both in greater
U.S. interest and funding. The Charge reminded the audience
of the unprecedented support provided by the current
administration via the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI),
and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Moyana used
the example of Obama to further his point that the U.S.
electoral system is a constantly evolving, inclusive process,
which developed over time thanks largely to the efforts of
civil society. He explained that shortly after independence,
only white male landowners could vote in U.S. elections,
while today a minority candidate is in the running. Jamal
highlighted the growing influence of minority and economic
issues, as well as foreign affairs as contributing factors in
U.S. voter's decision-making criteria come November.

--------------------------------------------- -------
IMAGINE A MINORITY PRESIDENT, CLOSE ELECTIONS IN MOZ
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (U) The Charge challenged the audience to imagine a
similar situation in Mozambique, including a strong electoral
system in which a minority candidate could win the presidency
via truly competitive elections. Panelists and audience
members alike were visibly amused by this seemingly distant
possibility. Moyana agreed that his country needed to work
towards "more uncertainty" in elections which appear to be
increasingly dominated by the ruling Frelimo party. Moyana
also looked forward to a more mature Mozambican electoral
system in which voters would some day be more interested in a
candidate's values than his background.

---------------------------------------------
AUDIENCE MEMBERS SHOW SYMPTOMS OF OBAMA MANIA
---------------------------------------------

5. (U) Audience questions centered largely around Senator
Obama's chances in November and the U.S. economic and
security agenda for Africa. One participant requested that
the U.S. government "permit" Obama to win. The Charge
responded that there is no sense in the U.S. electoral system
of candidates seeking "permission" to win, as the decision
rested wholly in the hands of the voters. In a variety of
other venues, including the Embassy's 4th of July event,
poloff noted a common appreciation of Senator Obama, which
many appear to have adopted as "Africa's Candidate." Most
Mozambican interlocutors echo panelist Jamal, believing that
an Obama administration would significantly increase current
USG commitments in Africa. Interestingly, questions about
Senator McCain are relatively rare, and he seems to remain
somewhat unknown to Mozambican interlocutors. One contact
said he believed a McCain administration would continue
largely along the same course as the current administration.

--------------------------------------------- ----
COMMENT: MOZAMBIQUE ELECTIONS: A WORK IN PROGRESS
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (SBU) The Charge's participation with panelists and
audience members at the CEMO event--while focused on the U.S.
elections--provided an opportunity to gauge Mozambican

MAPUTO 00000636 002 OF 002


perspectives on their own electoral system, with upcoming
municipal elections in November and national elections
scheduled for late-2009. Both Jamal and Moyana displayed
positive perspectives on the U.S. electoral system and echoed
great popular interest in the current U.S. presidential race.
The sense that the political establishment "permits"
candidates to occupy positions within the government reveals
the relative lack of power to affect change felt by
Mozambicans. Panelists and audience members alike agreed
that the current system lacks real competition, while some
expressed concerns that the sanctity and primacy of the
electoral system may not be a high priority for decision
makers. Many in Mozambican civil society are concerned about
how free and fair their own systems are in light of recent
election-related irregularities and violence in Kenya and
Zimbabwe.
Chapman

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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