Cablegate: Ecuadorian Elections Update #2

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


1. (SBU) Summary: This cable provides an update of
developments related to the upcoming October 17 provincial
and local elections. Most procedural issues are moving
toward resolution, the OAS has confirmed an electoral
observation mission which Embassy volunteers will participate
in, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has preempted
Congress on the issue of how to allocate council seats. End

TSE "Resolves" How to Allocate Seats


2. (SBU) On September 28, the TSE approved the "Imperial"
method to divide seats on provincial and municipal and rural
councils among political parties based on the number of votes
won by party. By doing so, the TSE filled a vacuum in the
electoral law since the previous, which had artificially
boosted representation by smaller parties, was challenged and
struck down as unconstitutional. The accord was supported by
the three largest parties (PSC, ID and Pachakutik), and by
the TSE president (of the PRIAN). Small party leaders
(including President Gutierrez) have criticized the right of
the TSE to "legislate" electoral law, and hope to muster
enough votes in Congress to pass a new law. Cesar Montufar,
coordinator of the electoral watchdog NGO "Citizens
Participation," has also challenged the constitutionality of
the TSE move and urged Congress to act to correct it.

OAS Observation Mission Confirmed

3. (SBU) The OAS has confirmed it is sending an Election
Observation Mission led by Edgardo Reis and composed of 5
core staff who arrive in Quito on October 5. This group will
be supplemented by 15 additional observers who will arrive
shortly before the election.

Embassy Observation Plans

4. (SBU) The Embassy will offer volunteers to supplement the
OAS Election Observation Mission. The tentative plan is to
deploy 5-10 teams of two U.S. mission observers to
Quito/Pichincha, Guayaquil/Guayas, Esmeraldas, Manta/Manabi,
Cuenca/Azuay and possibly Tena/Napo and/or Otavalo/Imbabura
province. Details remain to be worked out this week with OAS
EOM chief Reis.

Electoral Dry Runs Go Smoothly

5. (U) On October 2, provincial electoral councils conducted
a successful simulation of election procedures with
assistance from the OAS electoral unit. On the same day,
Citizens Participation (PC) carried out its own electoral
observation simulation throughout the country. A total of
2,300 volunteer electoral observers simulated observation
activities and 120 young volunteers registered the data at
PC's call centers in the capital. Data was then processed by
PC's divisions of Analysis, Recovery, Emergencies, and
Communications in order to test the entire set of operations
planned for its observation and quick count on election day.
Minor technical and communications problems were detected
and will be adjusted before October 17th.

TSE Improves Observation Rules


6. (U) On October 4 the TSE issued the final version of the
regulation for Electoral Observation, which eliminated
cumbersome requirements in earlier drafts. The modification
was praised by Citizen Participation, which plans to field
3,100 domestic volunteer observers on elections day.

Campaign Spending Excesses

7. (U) According to Citizens' Participation, some candidates
have already exceeded artificially low campaign spending
limits in the races for mayor of Guayaquil and Quito, and for
prefect of Pichincha, including Jimmy Jairala (PRE), Rodrigo
Paz (Quito in Action), and Federico Perez (DP), respectively.
PC also reported major increases in municipal spending on
publicity during the electoral campaign in Quito and
Guayaquil, and by the national government ($536,633) to
publicize public works.
Invitation to Federal Elections Commission

8. (SBU) The TSE has provided the Embassy with a copy of a
letter sent September 21 inviting Bradley A. Smith, President
of the Federal Election Commission, to witness Ecuador's
local and provincial elections October 17 (copy of letter
faxed to WHA/AN D).
Quito Gun Threat
9. (U) On September 28, Rodrigo Paz, the challenger for
mayor of Quito, filed a complaint with authorities claiming
his life had been threatened by a guard at municipal
trolley-bus station. The incident reportedly occurred while
Paz and his campaign workers were attempting to distribute
campaign material. The guard, who was subsequently taken
into custody by police, reportedly shot twice in the air
during the confrontation. Trolley officials claimed the
guard was reacting to physical threats from the campaign
workers after attempting to enforce the ban on campaign
activity on public property.

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