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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Atlantic Coast Election Results

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 001383

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR KRAAIMORE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/10/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: ATLANTIC COAST ELECTION RESULTS

REF: MANAGUA 1367

Classified By: Amb. Robert J. Callahan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

REF: MANAGUA 1367

1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 9, in Nicaragua's South Atlantic
Autonomous Region (RAAS) thousands voted in elections for 12
RAAS municipalities, while in the North Atlantic Autonomous
Region (RAAN) hundreds turned out to verify their
participation in municipal contests scheduled for January 18,
2009. Both the RAAS election and the RAAN verification
proceeded calmly, despite low turnout and instances of
Citizen Power Councils (CPC) meddling. According to the
latest election results the Constitutional Liberal Party
(PLC) prevailed over Sandinistas (FSLN) in eight of the
twelve mayoral and city council races. END SUMMARY

Low Turnout in RAAN & RAAS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (C) Nicaraguan media and embassy contacts reported that
turn-out for RAAN voter verification and the RAAS municipal
elections was lower than expected, despite significant
efforts to promote participation. At the more than 300
verification centers in the RAAN, only 5,300 (or
approximately 14 percent) of the 37,900 registered voters
verified their eligibility to vote in the upcoming January
18, 2009 municipal elections. In the RAAN,s largest
municipality, Puerto Cabezas, only 2,250 people of 18,000
registered voters (or approximately 12.5 percent) verified
their eligibility to vote. (NOTE: Approximately 1,200 or 23
percent of those who verified their eligibility to vote in
the RAAN also requested changes to their domicile
information. END NOTE) There was a similar trend of low
turn-out in the RAAS' municipal election. The highest voter
participation was in the Rio Grande municipality where
approximately half of the eligible voters participated, while
in Kukra Hill, El Rama, and Corn Island, less than 35 percent
went to the polls. Nueva Guinea had the lowest participation
in the RAAS, with only 10 percent of the registered voters
casting ballots. Despite the overall trend, our contacts
tell us that there was higher than normal turn-out among
Kriol people in Bluefields.

No Violence in RAAN & RAAS; Some CPC Meddling
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) There were no reported major acts of violence in the
RAAS; however, our contacts told us that FSLN-controlled CPC
groups were intimidating voters at some voting centers in
Bluefields, although groups of PLC supporters successfully
scared them away in most locations. Embassy contacts also
reported that there were no instances of violence by members
of the FSLN, Yatama, and Liberal parties during the voter
verification process in the RAAN; however, CPC members were
present at each of the five verification tables in Puerto
Cabezas. According to Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) rules,
it was illegal for third parties to be present at voter
verification tables, where private voter information, such as
address and party affiliation, were confirmed by individual
voters. (COMMENT: Post believes that CPC members want access
to this information before the January election in order to
locate and harass non-FSLN voters. END COMMENT)

PLC Leads in RAAS; Cross Votes in Bluefields
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (C) The CSE published initial RAAS election results of 57
percent (or approximately 51,300 votes) for the PLC and 34
percent (or approximately 30,600 votes) for FSLN cast in the
twelve municipal contests. The FSLN retained the mayor's
office in three municipalities (Pearl Lagoon, Kukra Hill, and
Rio Grande) and won in Corn Island. The PLC maintained
control over the remaining eight RAAS municipalities,
including the closely contested race in Bluefields (see REF
A). Initial votes for Bluefields' mayor candidate Dr. Harold
Bacon were higher than for the six city council members that
ran with him under the PLC banner, indicating that voters
were crossing their votes instead of voting a straight party
ticket.

Death Threats against ALN Candidate
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


MANAGUA 00001383 002 OF 002


5. (C) As reported previously (see REF A) the ALN Bluefields
mayor candidate Dean Hodgson was considering renouncing his
candidacy to form a unity ticket with the PLC candidate to
prevent the FSLN candidate from winning. Up until days
before the election, he was in negotiations with PLC party
officials, but did not renounce. After the election Hodgson
told us that he and his family were threatened by FSLN party
members two weeks prior to the election if he renounced his
candidacy. (COMMENT: It is widely believed that the ALN
candidates would split the liberal vote in Bluefields. END
COMMENT)

Some RAAS Election Irregularities
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (C) The media reported several instances of election
irregularities and possible election fraud. The Municipal
Election Council (CEM) of Bluefields received allegations of
over 900 voting ballots missing for the predominately PLC
communities of Kukra River and Punta Gorda. There were also
complaints of administrative criminal negligence in the
removal of election identity documents (cedulas) needed in
order to vote. In Pearl Lagoon, the PLC legal representative
filed a complaint with the local CEM regarding the illegal
annulment of ballots from five voting centers in Pueblo
Nuevo, El Pedregal and Pondler. The votes from these three
communities were equivalent to 296 votes for the PLC and 42
for the FSLN. (NOTE: Had the votes been included, the PLC
would have won in Pearl Lagoon. END NOTE) FSLN
representatives allege that the PLC transported voters within
the RAAS to areas that would help them win. In Karawala (in
Rio Grande), the PLC legal representative filed a complaint
with the CEM alleging that Yatama party members from the
RAAN's Prinzapolka traveled to the RAAS to vote for the FSLN
candidate. The Rio Grande CEM, Alisio Lopez remarked that
PLC activists on election-day had surrounded the CEM office
and chanted death threats against him. Six people were
wounded after Lopez called for help from the local naval
forces to disperse the crowd.

COMMENT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) The RAAN verification process and the RAAS elections
on November 9 were generally calm and violence free, with a
few exceptions. The PLC retained its historical majority in
eight of the RAAS municipalities, losing only one new
municipality to the FSLN, Corn Island, since the last
municipal elections of 2004. The PLC lost in Corn Island, in
part, because it chose a party operative who was a poor
politician to oppose a popular FSLN candidate. There were
claims by both PLC and FSLN of voter manipulation in the
contested elections of Rio Grande and Pearl Lagoon. The CPCs
were less of a factor in the RAAS elections than in the RAAN
voter verification process, where the FSLN / CPCs have been
historically much stronger because of their alliance with
Yatama. The next big contest is the RAAN municipal elections
in January, where the FSLN is poised to win, unless a unity
opposition movement can be formed. After this election,
there will be one more election in the RAAN and RAAS for
regional offices scheduled for March 2010, where we believe
that that the FSLN is planning on sweeping all contests in
order to consolidate control over this part of Nicaragua.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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