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Cablegate: U.S. Elections Inspire Introspection in Mozambique

VZCZCXRO1543
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0782 2281000
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151000Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9224
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000782

AF/S FOR MSHIELDS
AF/PD FOR CANYASO AND LALLISON

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KMDR PREL PGOV KDEM MZ
SUBJECT: U.S. ELECTIONS INSPIRE INTROSPECTION IN MOZAMBIQUE

REF: 08 MAPUTO 637

1. (U) SUMMARY: Responding to the great public demand here for
information and insight on the U.S. elections, Public Affairs hosted
Mozambican university students for a pair of programs on July 31 and
August 5. In learning more about democracy in the United States,
the students, who are looking ahead to Mozambican local elections
this November and a national vote in 2009, considered their own
electoral process, including its weaknesses. END SUMMARY.

Crossing Party Lines
--------------------

2. (U) On July 31 and August 5, Public Affairs sponsored two events
for Mozambican students to learn more about the U.S. elections and
interact with American Mission members. The first, a roundtable
that included 15 international relations students and three Embassy
officers, provided an opportunity for the well-informed participants
to ask questions of the "experts."

3. (SBU) The students were surprised to hear that one Embassy
Officer had changed his party affiliation over the years, remarking
that such a move would be rare in Mozambique. One participant
wondered if a voter in the United States would suffer any
repercussions for doing so. (COMMENT: In Mozambique where the two
main parties emerged from the opposing sides of a long civil war,
positions are hardened. It is uncommon for politicians and ordinary
voters to shift their political allegiance. END COMMENT.)

"Americans Vote Twice"
----------------------

4. (U) On August 5, Information Resource Center (IRC) members were
treated to a presentation of IIP's Elections 2008 PowerPoint in
Portuguese and modified to compare Mozambique and the United States.
The session prompted a thoughtful discussion and insights into
Mozambican elections. The students were interested to learn that
the United States generally has just two main candidates
representing their respective parties in a national presidential
election, whereas in Mozambique, the original field of candidates
represents many parties.

5. (U) Students furthermore noted that a single Mozambican
political party would never put forward several candidates but
rather would confirm internally within party ranks the expected
leader - very unlike the U.S. primary process. "Americans vote
twice," the students commented when they realized that the primaries
are not the final step in selecting the U.S. president. For the
students, the nomination process involving several individuals from
the same party contrasted sharply with the Mozambican system and
demonstrated that the party process itself is also democratic.

COMMENT: Attention Drawn to Mozambican Elections, too
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (U) Interest in the U.S. election appears inexhaustible,
particularly among youth. The programs of the past few weeks follow
on a well-attended U.S. elections debate (reftel), and are part of
post's plan to continue to engage Mozambicans, especially students,
on our election. Post has effectively used a number of IIP products
in translation, including the candidates' biographies, Elections In
Brief, and the Elections 2008 PowerPoint. These programs and the
valuable discussions they generate gain added significance as
Mozambique looks ahead to municipal elections in November, and
national elections in 2009. END COMMENT.

AMANI

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