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

VZCZCXRO3429
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0637/01 1920622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100622Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9083
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0193

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000637

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
--------------------------------------------- ----

MAPUTO 00000637 002 OF 002

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
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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