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Cablegate: "Independent" National Electoral Commission

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 001975

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NI
SUBJECT: "INDEPENDENT" NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
PROPOSES LEGAL CHANGES

REF: ABUJA 1468


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR INTRANET.


1. (SBU) In August, the ruling PDP rammed 10 new
Commissioners through the Senate despite a walkout by all of
the opposition, and even some members from the ruling PDP,
who complained the new majority among the 12 Commissioners
would be partisans of the President (Ref A). The complaints
fell on deaf ears; PDP Senators confirmed the nomination
without debate and the President swore in his new
Commissioners within 48 hours of submitting their names to
the Senate. INEC Chairman Guobadia did not resign at this
challenge to the "I" in INEC's name, and he is not one of the
Commissioners.


2. (SBU) Earlier this month, Commissioner Maurice Iwu
presented a paper -- he said on behalf of all the INEC
Commissioners -- at a UN panel on election administration
calling for several changes in the Election Law and possibly
the Constitution. On the face of it, two of the four changes
are not controversial:


-- giving INEC investigative capacity to implement the
mandate it already has to monitor political parties'
compliance with financial regulations; and


-- limiting changes in candidates at the last minute before
elections.


Two other proposed legal changes were instantly
controversial, to give the now allegedly partisan
Commissioners new legal powers:


-- "to sanction erring political parties, including
de-registration;" and


-- to ensure that INEC Returning Officers, "whose loyalty is
questionable," should not override or supercede the INEC
Commissioners in conducting elections - a case, the reported
INEC proposal said, "of a hired servant having more powers
than the master."


3. (SBU) INEC's staff is working on legal change proposals
too, and they probably differ from the latter two in only
allowing INEC to de-register parties it believes are
essentially defunct, and eliminating two middle layers of
Returning Officers between the voting site Returning Officer
and Constituency or State Returning Officers.


4. (SBU) Echoing language from Commissioner Iwu's
presentation, INEC Chairman Guobadia has written to the
leadership of the National Assembly and the chairmen of the
political parties of INEC's intention to present legislation
to the National Assembly for changing the Election Law.
Guobadia asked the chairmen to meet with him November 27 to
discuss the issue.
MEECE

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