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Cablegate: Afghan Elections Situation Report Three - 0400 Local,

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #2432/01 2312320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192320Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0937
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7758
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3785
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS KABUL 002432

DEPT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS TASK FORCE

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM AF

SUBJECT: Afghan Elections Situation Report Three - 0400 Local,
August 20, 2009

1. (SBU) A possible last minute weapons ban in Kabul may impact
observation efforts. Embassy elections operation center is working
to verify specifics of reports that the Ministry of Interior imposed
on Tuesday an unpublicized ban of all weapons in Kabul. Reportedly
steps can be taken to seek an exemption, but they are unclear. The
next sitrep is scheduled for 0800 local on August 20.

---------
Security
---------

2. (SBU) We have confirmed a media report that the Ministry of
Interior has implemented a ban stating that no weapons may be
carried in Kabul on election day, unless security personnel have an
appropriate exemption. It is still unclear how this ban affects
properly licensed personal security details. Reportedly, anyone
caught with a weapon will be arrested and the weapon will be
confiscated. This last minute regulation has the potential to
severely restrict international election observer missions,
including U.S. embassy teams, who rely on private security companies
for protection.

3. The Deputy Spokesperson of the Karzai campaign, Seddiq Seddiqi,
praised Afghan and international security forces for their efforts
to secure the elections to a Canadian Embassy representative on
August 19. Acknowledging the attack on a bank in central Kabul
earlier in the day, Seddiqi underscored the prompt and professional
response of the security forces. The Karzai campaign has high hopes
for stability and security through polling day and does not expect
electoral violence, but is taking some precautions to safeguard
their personnel in the field in the event that political violence
does occur. Provincial reports by region follow:

Regional Command (RC) - North

-- BAGHLAN: NDI observers report the local police in Baghlan have
said that there may be an attack on the police station or a guest
house where observers are staying. The NDI team is liaising with
the ANP and the regional command.
-- KUNDUZ: NDI reported that it pulled back its international
long-term observers (LTOs) from a hotel in Kunduz City to the PRT in
Kunduz due to rocket atacks arlie on August 19. The local
nationalobservers and their PSDs are still i the hotel.
International LTOs will decide on the morning of August 20 whether
to deploy out to the city, but Afghan short-term observers and LTOs
still plan to deploy at this time.

RC-East

-- GHAZNI: There were anti-Afghan forces (AAF) attacks today in
Zanakhan, Khogyani, and Rashidan district centers. The ANP
temporarily fled the Zanakhan district center after AAF broadcast
warnings were announced over loudspeakers. According to Task Force
White Eagle, the ANP returned to the Zanakhan district center by the
end of the day. There were also AAF attacks on FB Giro and FOB
Warrior. A Polish quick reaction force in Giro responded and seized
enemy arms.

Coalition force helicopters were sent to Mungur district in southern
Ghazni to interrogate possible targets on rooftops there, including
men carrying RPGs. Governor Usmani told PRT officer that the men
were arbakai, in place to protect polling centers. This message was
relayed to the helicopters. In a fly-over, the men were observed
wearing ANA-type uniforms, and waved at the helicopters. This event
illustrates the potential danger of having arbakai and other types
of community police at polling centers who are not clearly marked as
security hired by the GIRoA. Governor Usmani instructed the Ghazni
Police Chief to contact the Operations Coordination
Center-Provincial (OCC-P) and provide the details on the arbakai, so
that this information could then be sent to Coalition Forces
operating in Ghazni province.

-- PARWAN: (SBU) Rumors continue to circulate that Abdullah
supporters in the province will take to the streets if their
candidate does not win. Those who have repeated such rumors to the
PRT tend to be either Karzai supporters or relatively neutral. One
local commander in the Bagram area told the PRT today that
Rabbani/Massoud-allied commanders were distributing weapons to
Abdullah supporters to use for such protest actions. Abdullah has
strong support in the non-Pashtun areas (i.e. the majority) of the
province.

RC-West

-- HERAT: NDI's two international and two Afghan LTOs plan to deploy

on August 20 despite the IED incidents which occurred on August 19.

----------------------------
Voting & Counting Activities
----------------------------

4. (SBU) Regional reporting follows:
RC-East

-- PANJSHIR: PRT Panjshir has looked into the disappearance of
ballots and other sensitive materials bound for Mandol district in
Nuristan. The materials, which were driven across Panjshir before
being loaded onto pack animals, were reportedly destroyed by armed
attackers six hours after crossing into Nuristan. The IEC staff
then returned to Paryon district in Panjshir, where they were
interviewed by ANP and NDS. UNDP reports that the IEC staff
involved had been reluctant to make the trip due to its length and
difficulty, raising suspicions that they might have abandoned or
sold the materials en route. However, ANP Chief Sabor told PRT he
believes the IEC staff are telling the truth. Separately, UNAMA
reports that NDS is "100 percent sure" that the ballots were indeed
destroyed in Nuristan.

-- GHAZNI: In Ghazni province, the IEC has requested assistance in
moving voting materials to Jaghatu district. The IEC will bring the
materials to FOB Ghazni at 5am on August 20 for delivery by ANA
helicopter to Jaghatu district center. Overall, Governor Usmani
provided an optimistic report on the status of polling centers
across the province; however, the IEC has not confirmed the
information provided by the governor.

-- PARWAN: The IEC reports that District Field Coordinators (DFCs)
and sensitive materials have arrived at all polling centers. In a
successful operation, Coalition Forces provided air movement for the
DFC and materials this morning to Jozak in southern Kohe Safi
district, the only such movement in the province that could not be
completed by ground. Coalition Forces will retrieve the materials
and DFC tomorrow following the closure of the polling sites in the
area.

-------------
Voter Turnout
-------------

5. (SBU) No updates from sitrep two.

-----
Fraud
-----

6. (SBU) No updates from sitrep two.

------------
Atmospherics
------------

7. (U) In a short discussion with Canadian Embassy representatives,
Seddiq Seddiqi, the Deputy Spokesperson of the Karzai campaign noted
that optimism is high in the Karzai camp. They believe they are on
the winning track, and are confident of electoral victory. Sediqqi
was confident that Karzai (a household name in Afghanistan) is well
positioned to secure the support of Afghan voters. He stressed that
Karzai has made great efforts to engage local and tribal leaders,
politcial parties, and youth in an effort to build a broad support
base. Afghans, he contended, will vote for the candidate they
believe can bring change, and that candidate will be Karzai.

8. (U) Sediqqi asserted that the Karzai campaign has mounted a
credible, sound and principled campaign for the presidency. While
acknowledging "a couple of strong competitors", Sediqqi contended
that Karzai has made not significant political errors, and is well
positioned to build on his existing Presidential record to win the
support of the majority of Afghans. He believes Karzai will win in
the first round, and hoped that a second round will not be
necessary. Seddiqi rejected any claim of misconduct involving
misuse of government resources, stressing that the incumbent was
careful even to attend to his personal campaign only during
sanctioned holidays. He did not comment of the fine leveled against
Karzai running-mate Khalili by the ECC for the inappropriate use of
a MOD helicopter earlier this month.

9. (U) Sediqqi noted that the Karzai campaign has been satisfied to
date with the work of the IEC, noting in particular the challenge of
delivering elections under current security conditions. While he
was unsure of numbers, Sediqqi was nonetheless confident that the

Karzai campaign is not making active use of the ECC at this time.

10. (SBU) Regional reporting from key regions and provinces
follows:

RC-East

-- PANJSHIR: On the eve of the elections, Panjshiris are going about
their daily business and the mood is relaxed.

-- GHAZNI: The PRT officer reports unusual quiet in the province.
Homes and businesses along Highway One that are normally bustling
with activity were practically devoid of human activity. Local
nationals employed on FOB Ghazni interpreted this as evidence of the
residents' fear of being seen out in public on the eve of the
elections.

-- PARWAN: Governor Salangi told us that his visit yesterday to Kohe
Safi was relatively uneventful (except for one incident of small
arms fire apparently near his location). He promoted the electoral
process in a series of meetings and found people enthusiastic for
the vote. He plans to visit several polling centers tomorrow in the
central, lowland districts of the province to ensure that the
process is proceeding smoothly and peacefully. He and ANSF both do
not rule out a security incident occurring on polling day. Karzai
supporter MP Haji Almas told the PRT that he has been spending the
past two days intensively campaigning in Parwan for Karzai.


--------------
Public Affairs
--------------

11. (U) AFGHAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS: There are no media updates for
sitrep three. The next media update will appear in sitrep four.

12. (SBU) MESSAGING:

Messaging remains consistent with Afghan Elections Situation Report
One. We will review and update as necessary for the next report.

EIKENBERRY

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