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Cablegate: Ethiopia to Invite Select Foreign Election

VZCZCXRO0156
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2060 2370449
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 250449Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5977
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3422
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 002060

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/FO AND AF/E

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA TO INVITE SELECT FOREIGN ELECTION
OBSERVERS

1. (SBU) In an August 19 courtesy call with Charge, Ethiopian
Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin stated that the Ethiopian
Government (GoE) has decided to invite select foreign
election observers to monitor the country's 2010 national
elections. Seyoum noted specifically that the Foreign
Ministry has already issued an invitation to the Carter
Center to participate. The Foreign Minister stated that the
next step would be for the Carter Center to send an "advance
team" to Ethiopia to discuss operational modalities with the
Foreign Ministry before deploying a full observer mission.

2. (SBU) The Foreign Minister further noted that while the
GoE is interested, in principle, to invite a European Union
Election Observation Mission (EOM), discussions remain
on-going with embassies from EU member states on
arrangements. Seyoum specifically recounted how in 2005 the
EU Mission to Ethiopia signed a code of conduct and statement
of principles governing the scope of work for the EOM, but
only after the EOM breached those agreements did the EU
Mission clarify that the agreements were not binding on the
EOM. Seyoum argued that before Ethiopia approves another EOM
for the 2010 elections, the GoE wants to be certain that any
agreements signed are binding on, and honored by, the EOM.
In separate calls by the CDA on the British and French
Ambassadors, the Europeans indicated that the EU has not yet
reached a decision regarding a potential EU observer mission.
Both felt that EU observers could be useful in principle,
but noted that there were internal EU issues to be addressed,
as well as discussions with the GoE. Seyoum implied that the
GoE is waiting for an EU proposal; the French Ambassador
suggested that the EU needs a formal expression of GoE
interest first.

3. (SBU) In a later meeting with the CDA, PM Meles affirmed
that the GoE wants Carter Center involvement. He added that
he hopes that a positive Carter Center response would be
received soon, as it will be important to ensure all
arrangements are made well in advance to permit full observer
participation. In response to the CDA, Meles concurred that
broad international observer participation would be
beneficial, but offered no comments specifically regarding
potential EU involvement.

COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) The GoE's initial receptivity to international
election observers is positive. With elections presumed to
be held in May 2010, the election process is likely to begin
in earnest as early as November 2009. USAID/Ethiopia has
$1.15 million allocated to support election processes, but
will need to begin programming this money soon if we are to
support an observation effort that addresses the entire
election process. We, and many others in the international
community, recognize the potential risk of appearing to
endorse a flawed election process if a U.S.-supported
observation effort begins too late in the process or is
subjected to too many operational restrictions. As such, we
will reach out to The Carter Center to explore their
understanding of the GoE's offer to them and encourage them
to act quickly to address modalities with the Foreign
Ministry.
MEECE

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