Cablegate: Election Observer Access Still Unresolved

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


E.O. 12958: N/A


Sensitive but Unclassified - handle accordingly. Not for
internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: The EU and the National Elections
Commission continue to disagree over the access of observers
to provincial and national vote tabulations. The head of the
EU's observer mission told a press conference that without
access to the tabulations, the EU would not be able to give
credibility to the electoral process. There are reports of
some progress at technical levels, but we do not expect a
resolution in the next week. The EU may wind up with some
but not all of the access it is seeking. End Summary.
2. (U) Tension continues between the European Union (EU) and
the FRELIMO-controlled National Elections Commission (CNE)
over election observation guidelines. The main sticking
point remains observer access to the provincial and national
vote tabulations; presence at the initial tabulation at the
polling places has been agreed. Visiting EU election
observer mission chief Jose Javier Pomes took an optimistic
stance during an October 18 press conference, claiming
confidence that a resolution would be forthcoming and stating
that the EU and CNE were working out a way to secure the EU's
presence at the provincial and national tabulation stages.
Pomes asserted that the EU's acceptance of the GRM's
invitation to observe this year's elections was based upon
access to all stages of the electoral process. Reiterating
an October 15 EU statement, Pomes said that without this
access, the EU would not be able to confer credibility to the
electoral process. In an earlier statement, the
Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
(EISA), which has developed principles for election
organization and observation in the SADC region, was also
critical of the CNE's position, warning that failure to allow
observers access to all stages of the election process would
reflect poorly on the credibility of the elections.

3. (SBU) There are a few encouraging signs. The EU and the
CNE continue to talk. In those discussions, though not in
public, the CNE appears to have stopped claiming that
allowing observers would violate Mozambican law. The CNE now
says observers and journalists will be able to view the final
tabulation stage from outside the data processing room
through a window. We also understand that the CNE plans to
allow observers and journalists to view a computer monitor
showing data entry; this was done in 1999 and did not satisfy

4. (SBU) However, EU country diplomats fear that the CNE -
controlled by its FRELIMO party majority - may not allow
complete transparency. The Dutch ambassador and the UK high
commissioner told the Ambassador October 20 that, although
there were openings in negotiations with the CNE, the issue
was far from being resolved. The UK high commissioner feared
that this dispute would be followed by others. The Dutch
ambassador did not expect the EU to sign a memorandum of
understanding with the CNE but said that it would send its
observation team, some of whom have already arrived to view
the campaign, to the field regardless. The EU will rely on a
separate MOU with the foreign ministry that gives accredited
individuals observer status.

5. (SBU) At an October 21 donor meeting, EU Deputy Chief
Observer Aida Maria Aragao said the CNE had stepped back from
its categorical denial of observer access to the provincial
and national tabulation stages, but she discounted a recent
press report that the CNE had reversed its decision entirely.
The Carter Center reported at the same event that it has not
reached agreement on the MOU it has been negotiating at the
provincial level, which would include observer access to vote
tabulation. The Center, which has been silent on the issue,
expects to make a formal statement in the next few days.

6. (SBU) Comment: While the two sides are still searching for
a way to resolve the issue, we do not expect an agreement in
the next week or so. President Chissano has stepped back
from his initial public statement last week that he had
instructed the CNE to resolve the issue; he has since
emphasized to the press instead the need for the EU to
respect Mozambican laws. We believe the two sides may
eventually agree on some form of partial access that is less
than what the EU is currently seeking. End Comment.

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