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Cablegate: Election Themes: Consultation, Consensus, Change

VZCZCXRO7037
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2443 2510931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070931Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5415
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 002443

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: ELECTION THEMES: CONSULTATION, CONSENSUS, CHANGE

1. (SBU) Jandad Khan Spinghar, chief of the Afghan election
observation organization FEFA, says that in the coming
election campaign, people are looking for new leaders to
address three challenges: corruption, security, and ethnic
conflicts. As the head of an umbrella organization of 14
NGOs, Spinghar hears a spectrum of civil society views. What
people want, he says, is change.

2. (SBU) "Every problem has its root in the weakness of the
government," Spinghar laments. The administration and the
legislature lack capacity, and this is key. On the problem
of security, for example, if the government appeared honest
and competent, and delivered results on reconstruction, it
would receive the people's trust, and then their cooperation.
This cooperation would increase support for government
forces and reduce it for the violent alternatives. Instead
the government is weak, and ends up looking at fault for poor
security and even the deeply-unpopular coalition force
civilian casualties. People think, says Spinghar, that a
strong, honest, competent government would put a stop to
these tragedies.

3. Likewise, after the problem of security, Spinghar
believes the weak capacity of the Independent Elections
Commission (IEC) is most likely to put voter registration and
the 2009 presidential and provincial council elections at
risk. FEFA's 20-page analysis of the IEC's earlier, pilot
voter registration project is highly critical of the
organization: weak capacity, limited public outreach,
inadequate voter education, lackadaisical security. Spinghar
sees some of the same problems in the offing now.

--------------------------
CONSULTATION AND CONSENSUS
--------------------------

4. (SBU) In part reflecting frustration with weak
institutions, on key issues Spinghar prefers addressing key
issues through consultation and consensus rather than lively
political competition. He is exasperated that, on the
electoral law, the legislature has allowed itself to bog down
in petty maneuvers to gain more seats for each faction.
FEFA's carefully-researched case for changes to buttress the
independence of the IEC and regulate campaign finance fell on
deaf ears.

5. (SBU) Spinghar opposes the National Assembly's current
bid to require legislative approval of the President's
choices for IEC Commissioners as well. With legislative
approval, the "big political groups" would hold sway over the
Commissioners and the electoral process. Rather, the
President should solicit names from civil society groups,
other political actors, and the international community, then
himself choose from these lists.

6. (SBU) Spinghar is leery of consultations with
traditional, tribal, and religious leaders, whom he believes
are under the control of the "powerful commanders."
Nonetheless, he faults the Karzai government for failing to
"respect Afghan traditions." A Pashtun from Nangarhar who has
long lived in Kabul, Spinghar combines advocacy for stronger
roles for civil society and the international community with
loyalty to Afghan political and social norms.
WOOD

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