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Cablegate: Cei Says Voter Registration Will Begin September 15

VZCZCXRO7827
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0611 2521646
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081646Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4521
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000611

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM IV
SUBJECT: CEI SAYS VOTER REGISTRATION WILL BEGIN SEPTEMBER 15

REF: A. ABIDJAN 604
B. ABIDJAN 595

1. (SBU) Summary. President of the Independent Electoral
Commission (CEI) Robert Mambe told Ambassador that the
identification and voter registration processes will begin
September 15. Although not all 11,000 sites are ready,
operations will begin in those sites that are and commence in
others as they become ready to be used. Mambe said all the
material needed by technical operator Sagem has arrived.
Mambe explained that identification and voter registration
will last until the end of October and publication of the
final electoral list is scheduled for November 15. The
commencement of identification and voter registration makes
it more likely that elections could be held in 2008, even if
the November 30 date is not observed. End Summary.

Starting Process September 15
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) In a September 5 meeting, CEI President Mambe told
Ambassador that the identification and voter registration
processes will begin September 15 even if all the 11,000
designated sites are not ready by that date. Mambe explained
that operations will start in the sites that are ready and
will commence in additional sites as they become ready.
According to Mambe, most sites need only minor work to be
usable. Mambe said all the material needed by technical
operator Sagem to begin work (6,300 kits) has arrived in
Abidjan. Mambe attributed the delay in the commencement of
identification and registration to difficulties encountered
regarding the transportation of this material. He
acknowledged that the equipment needed to print the
identification and electoral cards has not yet arrived in
Cote d'Ivoire.

3. (SBU) Mambe explained that a total of 35,000 staff will be
needed to conduct the identification and voter registration
process. The CEI will recruit 17,000 of them and has already
pre-selected 25,000 potential candidates. All 25,000
candidates will be trained next week and, based on results of
tests that will be administered after the training, a final
selection will be made.

Election Timeline
-----------------

4. (SBU) Mambe explained that the identification and voter
registration process will last until the end of October. The
final electoral list is scheduled as of now to be published
on November 15, which means the official campaign period
could only last 15 days. Mambe noted that this timeframe
might be compromised if there are a large number of
challenges regarding the citizenship of persons on the
electoral list. Mambe said if it seems that the number of
challenges cannot be resolved in the time available, the CEI
will engage in discussions with all concerned parties and the
international community regarding postponement of the
November 30 date. The 2000 electoral list forms the basis of
the new list. Mambe explained that challenges can only
regard new voters (those who were 18 in 2000, but did not
register and those who turned 18 since 2000) since all
persons on the 2000 list will be considered Ivorian.

5. (SBU) Mambe noted that, according to the Ouagadougou
Political Agreement, once the final electoral list is
published, the Council of Ministers must adopt a decree
authorizing the issuance of new identification cards to all
persons whose names appear on the final electoral list.

6. (SBU) Comment. The commencement on September 15 of
identification of the population and voter registration makes
it more likely that elections could be held in 2008, even if
the November 30 date is not observed. Starting the process
in some sites and then expanding it to all 11,000 designated
sites resembles the process employed by the government for
the "audiences foraines" (mobile courts that issued birth
documentation). The "audiences foraines" teams were not all
deployed at the same time, but sequentially; the operation
was not perfect, but it was a success and accepted by all
political parties.

NESBITT

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