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Cablegate: Irregularities May Influence Distribution Of

VZCZCXRO5096
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #2484/01 3131938
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091938Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8173
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 002484

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/USOAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KDEM NU
SUBJECT: IRREGULARITIES MAY INFLUENCE DISTRIBUTION OF
ASSEMBLY SEATS

REF: A. MANAGUA 2466
B. MANAGUA 2459

1. (SBU) Summary: Although the November 5 national elections
occurred without significant outbreaks of violence or major
systemic irregularities, mission observers nevertheless noted
anomalies that may have been of a magnitude sufficient to
affect the outcome of the distribution of deputy positions in
the National Assembly. The limited training of poll watchers
for the new parties and the Electoral Police corps, as well
as the sporadic absences and inattentiveness of national
observers, also contributed to an environment that PLC and
FSLN officials were able to exploit to the advantage of their
parties. The deputy races in several departments are very
close, and the loss or gain of one seat in the Assembly can
strongly influence the balance of power between parties in
this emerging multi-party scenario. End Summary.

Additional Anomalies Noted
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Ref B detailed several irregularities reported by
Embassy observers on election day. On November 7, our
electoral volunteers gathered to discuss their experiences.
The following points summarize additional observations
regarding anomalies and the preparation of party poll
watchers, Electoral Police, and national observers:

- Voter Lists Difficult to Read: Observers noted that the
voter lists posted outside of polling stations (JRVs) were
not numbered and were often posted on doors (constantly
opening and shutting) or high on walls, making the lists
difficult to read. The CSE trained several officials to help
voters identify the correct JRVs, but not enough to cover all
voting centers.

- Selective Voiding of Ballots: Several observers noticed an
apparently selective voiding of ballots by JRV officials that
appeared to be biased against the ALN and MRS. In some
instances, officials "signed" ballots with initials instead
of a full signature and then disqualified these ballots (all
ALN and MRS) based on this "error."

- Open FSLN Influence: In at least one instance, an observer
road from her JRV with the ballots to the Municipal Electoral
Council (CEM) headquarters in a Sandinista vehicle. When she
reached the CEM, she noticed a large gathering of Sandinistas
with FSLN propaganda throwing a party at the CEM to celebrate
their victory. We received other reports of citizens
soliciting (and receiving) voting documents at local FSLN
campaign houses instead of the CEMs.

- FSLN collusion with AC: Many contacts expressed concern
that the "Alternative for Change" (AC) was just a fabrication
to provide more FSLN supporters in the JRVs under a different
party name. Observers noted in some instances that the AC
failed to register any votes, even with a fiscal from that
party present in the JRV. One AC fiscal told an observer
that the name of the party is "Accion Cristiana."

- ALN Fiscales Inexperienced: Ref B reported how experienced
FSLN poll watchers (fiscales) were able to dominate decision
making in their JRVs. Conversely, observers commented that,
while the ALN did have widespread coverage of the JRVs, ALN
fiscales appeared young and inexperienced and often did not
challenge clear cases of bias against their voters (such as
those mentioned above).

- Inconsistencies With ET Observation: Before the election,
national observers Etica y Transparencia (ET) planned to
cover 100 percent of the JRVs. Our volunteers noticed that
ET observers were absent in 25 to 30 percent of JRVs in some
areas (though ET claims that most were in place before the
JRV closings to record the vote totals). Additionally, the
quality of ET observers appeared to vary considerably -- some
were watching every step of the process while others were
absent, ignorant of electoral laws and regulations, or
otherwise inattentive.

- Electoral Police: The Ministry of Government typically
organizes a corps of special Electoral Police to assist
during national elections. Observers reported that the
Electoral Police were not present at all voting centers, and
many were very young or elderly and did not seem to know what
their role was during the elections. In Leon, the
FSLN-affiliated Municipal Electoral Council president decided

MANAGUA 00002484 002 OF 002


to substitute up to 100 (out of 400) Electoral Police, a
function clearly beyond his jurisdiction. PLC and ALN
fiscales complained that many of these substitutes had police
records and favored the FSLN.

FSN Misinformed and Harassed
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (SBU) The story of a mission FSN and her struggle to vote
is particularly telling. Before election day, this FSN
reported that teams of "pollsters" went around her
neighborhood to identify FSLN supporters. Residents who
indicated that they did not support Ortega were later
informed that their JRV had been changed. The FSN later
confirmed from the CSE web site that she had not been moved
from her original JRV.

4. (SBU) On election day, after first tacitly confirming with
the FSLN fiscal that she was not an Ortega supporter, the JRV
president told the FSN that her name was not on the voter
list by claiming that her first name was listed as her family
name. Although the FSN did not receive support from the
other fiscales, she insisted that everything was in order and
was finally allowed to vote. After casting her ballots, the
JRV second member glared at her and covered half her hand
with smelly indelible ink. This FSN encountered major
difficulties even though she was wearing a t-shirt and badge
that identified her as an ET observer.

Comment
- - - -

5. (SBU) None of these factors appeared to be widespread
enough to influence the outcome of the presidential race.
The allocations of deputy seats in the National Assembly,
however, are decided by much smaller margins and could be
influenced by the voiding of results from one JRV, or even
the strategic nullification of individual votes from several
JRVs. ET is conducting a comprehensive review of the deputy
votes (Ref A), though the absence of observers during the
closing acts in some departments may affect ET's accuracy in
some races. We will continue to closely monitor the process
of challenges with other national and international observer
groups to attempt to prevent a biased outcome.
TRIVELLI

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