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Cablegate: Oas Eom Chief Sees No Need for October Interim

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #2074/01 2632326
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 202326Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7632
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 002074

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/USOAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: OAS EOM CHIEF SEES NO NEED FOR OCTOBER INTERIM
REPORT, BUT WILL ISSUE ONE AT GON,S REQUEST

REF: A. MANAGUA 1593

B. MANAGUA 1555
C. MANAGUA 0565

Classified By: Ambassador Paul A. Trivelli. Reasons 1.4 (B,D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador and WHA/CEN director recently
met with the OAS election mission to assess developments in
the preparations for Nicaragua's November 5 elections.
While Mission head Gustavo Fernandez sees no need for a
second OAS interim report on Nicaragua's electoral process,
Ambassador urged Fernandez to reconsider, noting that
issuing a second report would allow OAS member countries to
make observations. Fernandez clarified that OAS will issue
a report if President Bolanos so requests. According to
President Bolanos senior political adviser, President
Bolanos intends to request a second report. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Ambassador, WHA director John Feeley, DCM, and
polcouns met on September 12 with the OAS EOM leader
Gustavo Fernandez and OAS-contracted technical director
Patricio Gajardo to discuss preparations for Nicaragua's
November 5 elections. Fernandez saw no need for a second
OAS interim report on Nicaragua's electoral process, noting
his plans to issue public statements instead. According to
Fernandez, the Nicaraguan government (GON) has agreed with
this approach. Ambassador urged Fernandez to reconsider,
noting that issuing a second report would allow OAS member
countries to make observations. Fernandez clarified that
he will respect the wishes of the GON; if Bolanos requests
a second report, the OAS will comply.

FACILITATING CLOSURE ON IRI CASE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (C) Fernandez was supportive of Ambassador's assertion
that the Supreme Electoral Council's (CSE) attacks against
the International Republican Institute (IRI) are unmerited
and politically driven -- in part to raise a smoke screen
to divert attention from the CSE's flawed regulations
concerning vote result challenges (impugnaciones).
Fernandez offered to weigh in with CSE President Roberto
Rivas on the IRI case.

THE DEVIL'S IN THE REGS
- - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) Continuing on the subject of impugnaciones,
Fernandez shared that the CSE has welcomed additional OAS
input. Fernandez asserted that the regulations are flawed
and confusing, specifically regarding the nullification of
vote tabulations at voting tables (JRVs), vote result
challenges (impugnaciones), and appeals. However, contrary
to the view of Etica y Transparencia (ET) leader Roberto
Courtney and others, Fernandez did not see a problem with
the regulation requiring signatures of the JRV officials
and party poll watchers (fiscales) to verify the result
of the vote tally because if an official or fiscal refuses
to sign, he/she must justify the refusal. Further, not
requiring the signatures of all officials/fiscales would
present a greater risk because certain political parties
could
connive and agree on inaccurate vote tallies without the
approval of other parties.

CSE TO ISSUE 200,000 TEMPORARY VOTING DOCUMENTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) Fernandez shared that the CSE will issue some
200,000 temporary voting documents (documentos supletorios)
and must also deliver up to (many have not been retrieved
for years) 170,000 national ID/voter cards, or cedulas
(many of these cedulas have been in the CSE's possession
for years). The OAS will accompany the CSE in the document
delivery process. Regarding the CSE's inflated voter roll
(padron), Fernandez confirmed that the CSE has closed the
list, estimating that while the roll contains as many as
3.5 million supposedly eligible voters, probably only 2.4
million of the names are current because included in the
roll are thousands of Nicaraguans residing abroad and
hundreds of deceased.

OAS BEEFS UP OBSERVATION TEAM, FOLDS IN "NOTABLES"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (C) Fernandez reported that the OAS will increase its
number of observers from 130 to 200 to ensure better

coverage of the electoral process. He noted that despite
its efforts, the OAS was unable to arrange for the arrival
of the Madrid Club "group of notables" well in advance of
the OAS observation team. Rather, the notables will be
incorporated into the OAS team. (COMMENT: According to
senior Bolanos advisers, the OAS caved to Sandinista Front
(FSLN) pressure to refrain from bringing in the Madrid Club
notables in September to participate in conferences with
political parties/civil society and meet with the press.
In light of Daniel Ortega's criticism of what he terms the
OAS' political meddling in the electoral process, the
notables program as a stand alone event was shelved.
Ironically, it was Ortega who originally insisted that the
OAS contain both a technical and political team, the latter
to make sure "the gringos" did not step out of bounds.)

CAPUTO TO FOCUS ON GOVERNABILITY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) Fernandez confirmed that Dante Caputo will arrive
September 22 and will focus on helping the GON and
political parties resolve the issue of constitutional
changes scheduled to go into effect 20 January 2007. He
added that the OAS has offered to help print a flow
chart/posters of the voting process for use at the JRVs
tables and to inform officials, party poll watchers,
observers, and the public. OAS will check with IFES to
ensure they are not duplicating IFES' efforts (IFES is
issuing the "step-by step" (paso por paso) manual.)

ORTEGA COULD WIN IF THE LIBERALS REMAIN DIVIDED
- - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

8. (C) To Fernandez, Ortega could win the November 5
election if the Liberals remain disunited. He remarked
that Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) candidate Edmundo
Jarquin's campaign is beating all expectations; while many
people predicted that the MRS would lose steam following
Herty Lewites' death, Jarquin has maintained, even
increased, support for the MRS. Fernandez related that in
his recent meeting with Jarquin, "Mundo" Jarquin told him
that about 11 of his 18/20 points in the polls could
potentially migrate to Montealegre on Election Day if these
largely independent voters determine that Montealegre is
the candidate who can beat Ortega. Fernandez, who appears
well disposed towards Jarquin, noted that the MRS has the
potential to eventually replace the FSLN.

HOW MUCH FRAUD IS POSSIBLE, LIKELY?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

9. (C) Fernandez differed with the common assumption that
Ortega can or will steal up to 5% of the vote. However, he
concurred with Ambassador that the FSLN and PLC could use
their control of the CSE to influence the elections of
Assembly candidates via "minor" irregularities. Fernandez
assured Ambassador that the OAS is taking precautions,
including raising its number of observers to offset any
efforts to commit fraud. The OAS will also work closely
with other leading observation groups before releasing
conclusive statements.

GON WILLING TO RECONSIDER POSITION ON OAS INTERIM REPORT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (C) Later the same day, President Bolanos' chief of
staff Leonardo Somarriba confirmed to WHA/CEN director John
Feeley that the GON does not require a second interim
report. Feeley suggested that the option of a second
report could help pressure the CSE to stay on track. He
added
that a report would allow OAS member countries to keep
Nicaragua's
electoral process on the Hemisphere's radar scope and
re-enforce
the importance of international observers, especially in
light of
Ortega's continuing attacks on the OAS EOM. A second report
would
also allow OAS members to signal concern with any
pre-electoral
irregularities, should they occur. Somarriba explained that
he
had agreed with Fernandez' recommendation on the condition
that
Fernandez will speak out regarding any anomalies that arise
from

now until the November election. In light of Feeley's
observations,
however, Somarriba said the GON is willing to reconsider its
position. (NOTE: On September 20, President Bolanos' senior
political adviser informed polcouns that in light of concerns
arising from the CSE's impugnaciones regulations, President
Bolanos now plans on requesting a second interim OAS report.)
TRIVELLI

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