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Cablegate: Cedula Crisis Forces Edg to Reconsider Public

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1630/01 2071348
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261348Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7086
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0129
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 0038
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PRIORITY 0043
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0451
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0091
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0228
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0140
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 0169
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0206
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001630

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND EUR/ERA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM GM CA DA SP FI JA NO NL SW
NU
SUBJECT: CEDULA CRISIS FORCES EDG TO RECONSIDER PUBLIC
STATEMENT

REF: A. MANAGUA 1565

B. STATE 114848
C. MANAGUA 1426

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Peter Brennan for reasons 1.4 (b and d
)

1. (C) Summary: The Nicaraguan Elections Donor Group (EDG)
decided to reconsider releasing a public statement regarding
the electoral process after leaders of the NGO Movimiento por
Nicaragua (MpN) gave a presentation on their recent
investigation revealing that large segments of the population
are having difficulty applying for and/or obtaining their
national/voter ID card (cedula). Canadian and USG
representatives strongly argued for the release of an EDG
statement, and the Finnish representative will bring the
issue back to the European Union chiefs of mission for
reconsideration. The EDG agreed to call a meeting between
EDG chiefs of mission and Supreme Electoral Council (CSE)
President Roberto Rivas to discuss the cedula problems. End
Summary.

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2. (C) Leaders of the NGO Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN)
presented their report on the state of cedula solicitation
and issuance (ref A) to the EDG on July 25. Representatives
from the German, Finnish, Norwegian, Canadian, and U.S.
embassies were present, as well as officials from the EU
mission to Nicaragua. The MpN representatives revealed that
81 percent of secondary students do not have a cedula in hand
and stated that many municipalities are obstructing cedula
application procedures by refusing to issue birth
certificates (necessary to apply for a cedula) in an
efficient manner -- at least to applicants not affiliated
with the mayor's political party.

3. (C) In addition, MpN claimed that the CSE has accepted
only 2,300 of 6,500 cedula applications from MpN's eight
citizen attention centers and has only issued 80 cedulas so
far. When asked by EU DCM Jose Luis Martinez if one
particular party is benefiting from these manipulative
tactics, MpN project coordinator Benjamin Lujo stated
unequivocally that the Sandinista Front (FSLN) is the great
beneficiary, as the FSLN controls the cedula issuance
machinery and FSLN supporters have not had difficulty
obtaining the document. (Comment: The FSLN's apparent
advantage in enabling its followers to obtain cedulas and the
"forced abstention" of non-FSLN supporters could tip the
outcome of the November election in FSLN presidential
candidate Daniel Ortega's favor. End Comment.)

4. (C) After the MpN representatives departed, German DCM and
EDG chair Guenter Sautter asked if the Group would reconsider
the appropriateness of releasing a public statement (ref C).
Canadian Ambassador Mario Lague and Emboffs strongly argued
in favor of issuing a statement. As an alternative to
releasing a general statement (as drafted in version 4),
Sautter and Emboffs proposed creating a declaration
specifically regarding the cedula issue. As current holder
of the EU presidency, the Finnish representative agreed to
bring the issue back to the EU chiefs of mission for
reconsideration. The Norwegian representative said she would
present the proposals to her charge d'affairs, but that the
Norwegians have decided to support the EU consensus.

5. (C) Martinez commented that issuing a declaration before
the August 6 cedula application deadline may be too
precipitous and suggested waiting until after the deadline
passes to "verify the situation." Lague and Emboffs
responded that a declaration after the deadline would be
meaningless and encouraged a preventive, rather than a
reactive posture from the EDG. Sautter then proposed
arranging a meeting between the EDG ambassadors and CSE
President Roberto Rivas to discuss cedulation. The Group
agreed on this step, but poloff remarked that the obstructive
measures of the mayors are equally as damaging to the
cedulation process prior to the August 6 deadline and should
also be addressed by the Group.

6. (C) Comment: Although the European embassy representatives
did not directly challenge the EU COMs' decision to delay
issuance of an EDG statement, several were clearly alarmed by
the MpN presentation and seemed to personally agree with the
need to speak out. Sautter mentioned to poloff before the
meeting (without prompting) that he would again raise the
issue of the EDG declaration. The Canadian Ambassador's
impassioned argument in favor of making a statement seemed to
convince everyone except Martinez. At least the Canadians
seem to understand that the EDG's window of opportunity to
make a positive difference in the Nicaraguan electoral
process by speaking out against fraud is rapidly closing.
BRENNAN

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