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Cablegate: Preparations for Phase 1 Voter Registration

VZCZCXRO3177
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2387 2461228
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021228Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5359
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 002387

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: PREPARATIONS FOR PHASE 1 VOTER REGISTRATION

1. (SBU) Provincial staff of the Independent Elections
Commission (IEC) are making tentative progress in preparing
for the October 6 start date for Phase 1 voter registration,
according to the reports of PRT field officers in Kapisa,
Bamiyan, Panjshir, and Parwan. Kapisa, Bamiyan, and Parwan
have hired the final level of field staff, the District Field
Coordinators (DFCs), and planned to begin DFC training in
coordination with UNDP/ELECT field officers September 1. The
provincial office in Kapisa optimistically estimates that the
DFCs will need a week, or less, to verify the planned voter
registration sites, a key step that will facilitate security
and logistics planning. The IEC in Kabul reports that poor
security is hampering efforts to hire local staff in Ghazni
and Wardak, especially in areas dominated by ethnic Pashtuns.
Despite recruitment through appeals on radio and TV and from
prominent local figures, two of Ghazni's 18 districts have no
DFC applicants, according to IEC headquarters and provincial
officials.

--------------
VOTER OUTREACH
--------------

2. (SBU) Kapisa and Panjshir provincial electoral officers
have begun to plan for voter outreach campaigns, including
incorporating civic and voter education into weekly mosque
sermons. IEC headquarters began training provincial-level
civic educators on August 30 and expects district-level civic
educators to start voter outreach campaigns September 15. In
recent meetings with the USG, the governors of Nuristan and
Kunar expressed their support for elections and underscored
the importance of voter outreach and education. The two
governors, like district governors in Panjshir and Ghazni and
the Ghazni provincial electoral officer, opined that the
degree of difficulty of travel -- whether the obstacle is
distance or security -- will be key in shaping citizens'
decisions to register and vote. Spot interviews with
residents in rural areas suggest that, with voting day almost
a year away, everyday concerns outweigh the distant prospect
of elections.

-----------------
SECURITY PLANNING
-----------------

3. (SBU) Excepting Parwan, IEC provincial staff have yet to
begin formal interactions with other sub-national government
elements. Governors, provincial councils, and district
governors have no formal role in voter registration, but many
say they would like to be consulted. In particular, only in
Parwan have provincial IEC staff begun to work with the
police and army to discuss voter registration security
planning. The signing of the Joint Security Order between
MOI, MOD, and ISAF on August 24 was a significant step
forward and opens the door for improved coordination at the
sub-national level. Additionally, as the ANP and ANA
regional and corps commanders begin to prepare to deliver
detailed plans to their commanders in the second week in
September, this situation may improve.
WOOD

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