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Cablegate: U.S. Elections Programs a Big Draw in Mozambique

VZCZCXRO1164
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0963/01 2821326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081326Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9435
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000963

AF/S FOR MSHIELDS
AF/PD FOR CANYASO AND LALLISON

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KMDR PREL PGOV KDEM MZ
SUBJECT: U.S. ELECTIONS PROGRAMS A BIG DRAW IN MOZAMBIQUE

REF: A. MAPUTO 782
B. MAPUTO 637

1. SUMMARY: Responding to the enthusiastic Mozambican interest in
the U.S. Presidential race, Public Affairs Maputo continues to
organize successful elections-related events, with several more
planned in the final month of campaigning. These events have been
excellent opportunities to engage key audiences on democracy and
U.S. foreign policy, and for Mozambicans to interact directly with
Americans on issues of interest and concern. END SUMMARY.

2. The U.S. elections season is in full swing in Mozambique.
Elections programs provide a special draw as Mozambique is preparing
for its own (municipal) elections just two weeks later, on November
19; there have been several political party shake-ups here, tests of
democracy. Building on the positive responses to our programs in
July and August (reftels), Public Affairs Maputo recently hosted a
number of new events in Maputo and a discussion around the IIP
PowerPoint "Elections 2008" at our American Corner in the northern
Muslim city of Nampula.

A Variety of Approaches and Venues
----------------------------------

3. The first PAS-hosted U.S. Elections roundtable with students
from Mozambique's Higher Institute of International Relations (ISRI)
in July (Ref. A) raised many questions about what drives American
political parties. Responding to that interest, Public Affairs
invited the students back on October 1 to talk about American
political parties. The ISRI undergraduates had clearly been
following the campaign closely and asked thoughtful questions on
party history and support bases, considerations in voter
decision-making, and how each candidate is likely to approach
Africa.

4. The 90-minute conversation with three Mission officers came
between PAS' showing of the first presidential debate on September
29 and the vice-presidential debate on October 6. Both debates drew
nearly full-house crowds who were not bashful about giving their
opinions on the candidates' answers, their debating styles, and even
who "won."

5. On a lighter note, PAS chose the Hollywood film "Dave" from the
ECA elections-themed film list to show on October 2. Despite the
humorous approach of the movie, it prompted a serious discussion
about the role of the Vice President, an office which does not exist
in Mozambique, in comparison to the office of the Prime Minister
here.

The Debates are Catching On
---------------------------

6. With a Public Affairs grant, two local NGOs--The Center for
Mozambican and International Studies and the Martin Luther King
Institute--will host a panel discussion on the 2008 U.S. Election
and foreign policy. Two Embassy officers will participate in the
October 8 event, which will be the catalyst for a series of student
debates throughout Maputo. The finalists of the college debate
series, representing the Democratic and Republican parties, will
square off in a last debate at the Mission's grand election night
celebration at the National Conference Center on November 4 (cable
to follow).

Mozambican Journalists Will Bring the Race Home
--------------------------------------------- --

7. Coverage in the local media of the U.S. election will be
thorough in the next several weeks, as two Mozambican journalists
participate in Foreign Press Center elections reporting programs,
covering the final presidential debate in New York, and the election
itself on November 4. Both writers' reports in two different
independent weeklies are expected to be widely read as the
Mozambican perspective on the U.S. democratic process and campaign.

8. Copies of elections-themed e-Journals and translated America.gov
and IIP publications, such as the candidates' bios and articles on
African-American voters, are flying off the shelves at all of these
events and in the IRC and American Corners. The Mission is equally
enthusiastic about the elections. With the variety and number of
elections programs taking place, Americans from across the Mission
are participating in our public diplomacy efforts.

COMMENT: Considering the Possibilities
--------------------------------------

9. The discussions accompanying the elections 2008 events often
focus on the current campaign in the context of U.S. history, with
the comment that Americans are breaking new ground in their
political experience. Mozambicans too are considering the
possibilities. One civil society leader told PAO that he would like

MAPUTO 00000963 002 OF 002


to organize the first-ever debate between the Mozambican
presidential candidates next year. The 2008 election has been a
unique opportunity to engage Mozambicans on issues of American
policy and democracy, themes upon which PAS Maputo plans to build,
even after November. END COMMENT.

AMANI

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