Cablegate: Iraqi Politicos Trained On Campaign Strategies In

DE RUEHGB #4024 3590734
R 240734Z DEC 08



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1. (SBU) Summary: The International Republican Institute
(IRI) has expanded its candidate-training program in Iraq
to include sessions in Baghdad. IRI is providing political
party training to 43 parties competing for seats in the
Iraqi provincial council elections scheduled for January
31, 2009. In addition to party training, IRI offers
modules for groups of individual candidates. While the
majority of training sessions are hosted at IRI's training
center in Erbil, the Institute has recognized the improving
security situation in Baghdad and begun hosting modules in
Baghdad for the first time since early 2007. End summary.

2. (SBU) On December 11 POLOFFS attended a multi-party
training session co-hosted by Baghdad PRT and IRI. This
was the second such event; the first was held on November
11. A total of 18 candidates, representing nine political
entities, attended the two-day seminar. The IRI
instructor, a US citizen with professional experience
working on congressional and presidential campaigns, worked
with an Iraqi interpreter to guide participants through an
interactive lesson focusing on campaign strategies and

3. (SBU) Baghdad PRT took the lead in organizing and
hosting the training sessions, following a presentation to
the PRT by on the upcoming provincial elections. PRT staff
approached the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
(DRL) with information that many local candidates were
interested in participating in training sessions, and
offered to provide a local venue for IRI to conduct
courses. Following a positive response from IRI, the PRT,
in cooperation with the Embassy Political Section,
publicized the events to all parties active within their
area of operations.

4. (SBU) The basic, multi-party candidate training
module introduced candidates to generic themes and concepts
such as targeting undecided voters and maintaining a simple
database. Candidates also participated in discussions on
party platform development, constituent services, and voter
outreach. Candidates and parties that participated in
these modules may apply to enroll in more focused,
party-specific training courses at IRI's Iraq headquarters
in Erbil. Candidates from several parties told poloffs during
a break in the training that they found the sessions very
useful; much of the thinking was new, they commented. Several
of the candidates who participated in the training have
inquired about training opportunities for
others in their party. (Note: We routinely pass these
requests on to NDI and IRI. End note.)

5. (SBU) Comment: IRI and its counterpart, NDI, moved
their Iraq headquarters from Baghdad to Erbil in 2007,
citing security concerns. While both institutes continue
to provide the bulk of their party and candidate
development training in Erbil, they have each made a
commitment to relocate elements of their international
staff to Baghdad in early 2009. NDI is setting up a
larger operation in the International Zone although
they face space availability problems. We continue to
encourage increased IRI and NDI programming in Baghdad.
The two candidate-training courses offered by IRI in Baghdad
are a sign that IRI is prepared and able to make this move.

© Scoop Media

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