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Cablegate: Kandahar Provincial Council Not Representative

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004953

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR SA/FO AMBASSADOR QUINN, S/CT, SA/A
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN, KAMEND
CENTCOM FOR POLAD, CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76
TREASURY FOR LMCDONALD, WBALDRIDGE, APARAMESWARAN, ABAUKOL
STATE PLEASE PASS USAID
USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KDEM AF
SUBJECT: KANDAHAR PROVINCIAL COUNCIL NOT REPRESENTATIVE


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Governor of Kandahar and local NGOs
told the Ambassador that the newly elected Provincial
Council is not representative of the province's
population and is being circumvented by use of the
shura system. They believe the shuras currently are a
better means to identify and address the needs of the
people. Neither option provides a perfect solution,
but Afghans will need to support, encourage, and work
through the PCs in order to create a more democratic
and stable society. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------
Unrepresentative Councils
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Neumann met separately with Governor
Assadullah and the leaders of local NGOs on November
15. The governor was concerned that the Provincial
Council is more representative of Kandahar City than
of the outlying areas, citing that half of the council
live in the city. The current representatives are
bound by their tribal allegiances that leave many
unrepresented. Local NGOs said that the Provincial
Council is not able to discern the needs of the
people. Instead both the governor and NGOs have turned
to local shuras.

------
Shuras
------

3. (U) Gov. Assadullah told the Ambassador he had created
his own informal council of shuras, Afghanistan's
traditional means of representation. He regularly
calls meetings with the shuras in order to determine
the needs of each area. In his most recent meeting,
the governor was presented with lists of up to 100
projects per district; he asked the shuras to choose
their top three needs. The governor stated that he
intends to try and complete the top three projects for
each area to help the people see positive change by
giving them a greater voice.

4. (U) NGOs also favor the shuras to connect to the people.
They potentially provide a greater representation and
also allow for local oversight of NGO operations. In
particular, NGOs stated that the shuras fill the need
for better representation in hard to reach regions.

-------
Comment
-------

5. (SBU) In Kandahar, the election of a Provincial Council
does not appear to have created a representative group
capable of unbiased advice to the governor or making
priority decisions for the province. This is no
particular surprise, considering they were elected
only two months ago and have little binding legal
power. In order to make this body more effective and
widely accepted, additional work will be needed to
bridge the divide with the governor and teach the
council constituent outreach beyond tribal networks.
The PRT can play a helpful role in these efforts. Until
then the parallel use of traditional shuras will
likely continue.

6. (SBU) The highly perceptive Minister of Reconstruction
and Rural Affairs agreed with the perception from
Kandahar that the Provincial Councils are very imperfect
representatives of provincial priorities. He suggested
that since district elections are unlikely, groups of
shuras might send representatives to work with
Provincial Councils. What all these views add up to is
that we have to think hard about an automatic assumption
that Provincial Councils equal full provincial
representation. END COMMENT.
NEUMANN

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