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Cablegate: Election Security Cooperation Improving

VZCZCXRO1083
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2914/01 3070718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020718Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6052
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002914

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-101, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: ELECTION SECURITY COOPERATION IMPROVING

REF: A. KABUL 2708
B. KABUL 2551
C. KABUL 2896
D. HOFFMAN-MATA EMAIL

1. (SBU) Summary: Cooperation on voter registration
security among the Independent Election Commission (IEC), the
Ministry of Interior (MOI), and the Ministry of Defense (MOD)
is much improved over its early stumbles (REF A) and the
fractious planning of the late summer (REF B.) The security
forces are taking on the challenge of opening up districts in
Phase 1 provinces where anti-government forces have delayed
or shut out voter registration activities. The Afghan
National Police operations chief now hosts a weekly
coordination meeting, and the operations center based at IEC
headquarters will continue to serve as a practical mechanism
for identifying and resolving security issues.

2. (SBU) Discussion: Daoud Ali Najafi, Chief Technical
Officer of the IEC, noted that in mid-October he wrote to the
Minister of Interior in exasperation about Ghazni, Wardak,
and Logar provinces, where the activities of anti-government
fighters have shut out citizens in specific districts from
voter registration activity. Najafi is delighted to see
that, in response, the Afghan National Police (ANP) and
Afghan National Army (ANA) cooperated with coalition forces
to organize operations in Ghazni, allowing two troubled
districts to open for registration. As in Nuristan province
(REF C) and the other Phase one districts (REF D) where
security problems and difficult logistics delayed the opening
of sites, the IEC will add back days of registration to
enfranchise Ghazni voters. An increased security force
presence will remain nearby to keep these centers open.
Najafi reports that the MOI has promised him additional
operations to open the six other districts (four in Ghanzi,
one each in Logar and Wardak) where voter registration is
unable to take place.

3. (SBU) Security planning for the end of Phase 1 and the
opening of Phase 2 is progressing well. To ensure the safety
of voter registration data, the IEC sent its logistics plan
to the MOD on October 26, so that Afghan and international
forces can organize the return by air of completed voter
registration forms from violence-prone areas. In a unique
incident in Kharwar district in Logar, Taliban reportedly
burst into a wedding party and tore up the voter registration
cards of the guests.

4. (SBU) The week of October 20, Najafi consulted directly
with the Phase 2 ISAF regional commander, and detailed
planning by Phase 2 regional corps commanders is underway.
The IEC is cognizant that in Phase 2 Kabul city and province
will draw great media attention; while generally optimistic,
Najafi believes the two southern districts of Khak-e-Jabbar
and Musahi may be problematic. The IEC also assesses that
one district each in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces may have
difficulty opening. Chitmal district in Balkh is the first
northern, Phase 2 district to report a "night letter"
threatening those who participate in voter registration.


5. (SBU) Election officials are adding more outreach to
traditional leaders into the mix of the security strategy, an
approach that has floated up from the successful initiatives
of local IEC staff working in Phase 1. ANP operations chief
Colonel Almas, who is an effective, dynamic chair to the
weekly MOI-MOD-IEC operations coordination meeting, is
enthusiastic about greater public outreach in remote and
troubled areas. The IEC is hosting a large gathering of
religious leaders in Kabul on November 2, to publicize that
these leaders endorse elections as compatible with Islam,
including the participation of women. Najafi recently met
with two groups of tribal elders from Phase 2 provinces, and
the IEC is funding shuras so these groups can rally support.
MOI and MOD representatives have agreed to sponsor short
public information radio and TV spots about their work on
voter registration security.

6. (SBU) Najafi on October 29 proclaimed, "With all the
challenges, with all the difficulties, the health of the
electoral process is good." IEC field operations chief
Raheem Siyal on October 30 pointed to the success of Kunar
province, where security forces regularly engage
anti-government elements, yet only one voter registration
center opened late, due to logistical reasons, and all
centers remain open. IEC figures show that as of October 28,

KABUL 00002914 002 OF 002


some 662,855 new voters have joined the rolls, including
244,976 women (37 percent.) The new IEC operations center is
tracking and reporting activity daily at the district level,
enabling the IEC to quickly address problems as they arise.
Najafi is especially proud of the dedication of IEC field
employees, who have forged on despite delays in supply
deliveries, operational funding, and salary payments. "They
pay ahead from their own pockets to solve problems," Najafi
said, because they are committed to the democratic process.
WOOD

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