Cablegate: President Chissano Addresses Diplomatic

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: Mozambique wants donor involvement
and support as it prepares to hold national elections
on December 1-2. President Chissano told Maputo's
diplomatic corps that the path to democracy in
Mozambique has been filled with challenges, but the
process has evolved to the point that Mozambique now
has credible electoral institutions equipped to carry
out better and better elections. The President
welcomed national and international participation in
the electoral process, but cautioned that there needs
to be good cooperation and understanding between the
donors and the electoral organs for the good of the
elections and the overall process. Comment: It
appears that the National Elections Commission (CNE)
may be opening a door to resolving differences with
the European Union on the conduct of the observation
effort during the final stages of the vote. The EU
has not yet reacted to the CNE's latest proposal.
Analysis on the CNE proposal and EU reaction will
follow septel. End Comment and Summary

2. (U) President Chissano convoked the diplomatic
corps in Maputo, November 5, for an exchange on the
electoral process and to offer donors the opportunity
to address issues that he sensed might need
clarification. The room was packed.

Democratic Processes Are in Place Now
3. (U) Stressing that elections represent a process
more than anything else, Chissano opened his remarks
to the diplomatic community by tracing the development
of democracy in Mozambique. He noted several times
that cultural issues, which were often at odds with
democratic practices, had to be resolved in a way
acceptable to all. Despite the challenges, Mozambicans
today are better prepared to use democratic tools in
settling differences. Mozambicans, the President said,
are involved in a national debate, which includes
civil society. As a result, they are resolving issues
peacefully through discussion and through consensus.
Mozambicans, he stressed several times, will never
again resort to war. Those days are over.

4. (U) The President reminded his audience that
Mozambique has now held several elections, that it has
a functioning, if somewhat boisterous, parliament, and
that last year's municipal vote resulted in the
election of 33 municipal governments. In addition,
the President continued, the National Elections
Commission (CNE) and the Constitutional Council are
now better equipped to continue to organize elections
and to improve on past performance. An electoral law
reflecting strong national consensus is in place.

Electoral Observers Welcomed
5. (U) As his talk turned toward the December
elections, the President worried about getting out the
vote, which has declined significantly from 1994
levels. He emphasized the need for the process to be
orderly and free from violence. Mozambique, the
president stressed, is open to national and foreign
observers, but it is important that there be good
understanding between the observers and the national
electoral institutions for the good of the elections.
Obviously referring to the ongoing dispute between the
CNE and the European Union on the modalities for
observing the elections in Mozambique, the President
told his audience that he had just been told that the
disagreements would be resolved using available

Donor Meddling
6. (U) Elections, Chissano noted, have only been
possible in Mozambique because of external financing.
The challenge has been enormous, costly not without
mistakes, he said. Installing multiparty democracy in
a country where seventy per cent of the population was
illiterate, where poverty levels were worse than they
are today, and where there were no roads, no
television and no phones in many districts has been
extremely expensive and difficult. As a result, he
complained, I don't like it when somebody reminds me
that he paid for my jacket. When I hear that, it
makes me want to take it off. But it is cold, so I
keep it on. Using humor again, he took another shot
at donors, this time by referring to an unnamed former
U.S. Ambassador whom Chissano claims once told him
that, we have the right to interfere because we pay
most of the costs. He went on to say that this remark
had so angered him that he would have returned the
money had it not already been spent. He concluded his
jousting by genuinely thanking donors for their
support. As he did so, he reminded us that
Mozambicans are not perfect and that mistakes will
continue to be made, but the important thing is to be
able to use the experience to build and to improve the

The Need to Stay the Course
7. (U) The president concluded his remarks by
stressing that it is most important for Mozambique and
the donor community to stick to established
priorities, which include improved management of the
budget, poverty reduction and consolidation of the
development process. Mozambique is not only about
reforming institutions. In many cases, such as with
the justice sector, Mozambicans are trying to build
institutions where none existed. It is about starting
with nothing and building something from the bottom
up. He brought up FRELIMO presidential candidate
Guebuza by describing him as one who is of the same
mind as he and as one who would continue Mozambique
down the path of economic growth and prosperity. He
asked the donors to work with Mozambique's next
president in a constructive way so that the course of
stability and economic growth for the country is
maintained. And finally, he asked donors to please
step forward, publicly or privately, if they had any
additional concerns of which he should be apprised.

8. (SBU) The president was relaxed and spoke with
minimal reference to his text. He seemed genuine in
his effort to improve the climate of communication
between donors and government over the elections.
Whether the substance of the CNE's proposal will
satisfy the EU or other observer groups is another
matter. Members of the EU who were present were not
able to confirm whether the CNE's latest proposal
addressed their concerns. They had not had time to
study the CNE's document, which was released via press
conference the day before. In recent weeks, the CNE
has more than once said incorrectly that the issue has
been settled satisfactorily. After the President
concluded his remarks the Dutch Ambassador spoke on
behalf of the EU and thanked the President for his
openness and willingness to entertain options, which
she said could open a door to resolving the current
difficulties. End Comment.

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