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Cablegate: Urging U.S. Ngos to Observe Iraqi Provincial

VZCZCXRO5985
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3917 3500657
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150657Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0859
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003917

SIPDIS

FROM AMBASSADOR CROCKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM IZ
SUBJECT: URGING U.S. NGOS TO OBSERVE IRAQI PROVINCIAL
ELECTIONS

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph
four.

2. (SBU) Iraq's provincial elections, scheduled for January
31, 2009, will be vital in determining the shape of local
government in Iraq for the next four years. The provincial
councils to be elected will also hold greater power, as the
Provincial Powers Law, passed in February 2008, will come
into affect when they are seated. The new councils will
appoint the provincial governors and set their own budgets.
Moreover, these provincial councils will be able to set the
agenda for federalism in Iraq and could determine whether
Iraq will see the establishment of new regions like the
Kurdish region that has existed since 2005. The elections
will also set the stage for parliamentary elections in 2010.


3. (SBU) The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC)
has sent invitations to 77 international NGOs requesting they
send observers for the January 31 provincial elections. The
list includes the following U.S. NGOs: the Carter Center,
the International Election Monitors Institute, and the United
States Association of Former Members of Congress. These
organizations have not yet replied to IHEC's invitation.
Embassy strongly supports the participation of American
observers. This would enhance the elections' credibility and
be an important sign of U.S. support for Iraqi
democratization. (IHEC also invited the International
Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute,
but these two organizations are training Iraqi political
parties and observers and may not perceive themselves to be
appropriately unbiased as international observers.)

4. (SBU) Action request: Embassy requests that the
Department contact the three American NGO invitees not now
working in Iraq to encourage them to send representatives to
observe Iraq's provincial elections. Embassy, including the
PRTs, and MNF-I will provide logistical and security
assistance in coordination with the European Union mission
here, which will coordinate all international observers. If
Department is aware of other U.S. organizations interested in
sending observers, we can convey this information to IHEC,
which could issue additional invitations.
CROCKER

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