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Cablegate: Who Will Be a Kuchi Voter?

VZCZCXRO7780
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2121 2241115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111115Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5077
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 002121

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-101, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: WHO WILL BE A KUCHI VOTER?

REF: A. KABUL 1948
B. KABUL 1818
C. 06 KABUL 2943
D. KABUL 1701

1. (SBU) As reported REF A and REF B, debate in various
committees of the National Assembly on a new electoral law
continues to focus on the question of Kuchi representation.
The 2005 electoral law designated 10 of the 249 seats in the
lower house of the National Assembly as "Kuchi" seats. These
seats, unlike any other lower house seat, have a national
rather than provincial constituency: a Kuchi voter anywhere
in Afghanistan may vote for candidates for these 10 seats.

2. (SBU) In 2005 election procedures allowed voters to
self-identify as Kuchis. Although voter registration cards
from 2005 show a voter's province of residence, voters could
choose to go to a separate polling station to vote on a
separate Kuchi ballot to elect the Kuchi representatives. In
choosing a Kuchi ballot, the voter forfeited the chance to
vote on any provincial ballot. Thus, in 2005 a Kuchi voter
in Bamiyan could "vote Kuchi" on the Kuchi ballot, or "vote
Bamiyan" by showing an appropriate voter registration card at
a Bamiyan polling place and choosing the provincial ballot.

3. (SBU) Defining "a Kuchi voter" for future elections is a
thorny political question. Ethnic Pashtuns now hold all 10
Kuchi seats. Ethnic Turkmen, Tajiks, and Baluchi also are
possible Kuchi voters, however, because Afghans accept that
"Kuchi" refers to the nomadic way of life rather than a
distinct ethnic group. Yet the Kuchis' increasingly settled
existence and the competition for resources this creates (REF
C) lies behind some of the present friction between Kuchis
and other groups. The alternative of converting the 10 Kuchi
seats into additional seats for provincial constituencies
also is problematic. One objective basis -- how many voters
choose the Kuchi ballot per province in 2005 -- is not
available. Election officials in 2005 did not tabulate the
204,822 Kuchi ballots by province, because the law designated
a national constituency for the Kuchi seats.

4. (SBU) The subset of voters who will receive the new
voter registration cards, to be issued by the IEC beginning
October 6 (REF D), will have both a district (nahia) and a
province of residence noted on their cards. This additional
data will be useful in 2010, for the National Assembly
elections. The unresolved question of Kuchi representation
will not be a hindrance to the nation-wide presidential
election in 2009.
WOOD

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