Cablegate: Afghan Elections Situation Report Five - 1200 Local, August
DE RUEHBUL #2437/01 2320850
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200850Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0950
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7770
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3797
UNCLAS KABUL 002437
DEPT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS TASK FORCE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM AF
SUBJECT: Afghan Elections Situation Report Five - 1200 Local, August
1. (SBU) The next sitrep is scheduled for 1600 local on August 20.
2. The security situation is unusually good, but as of 1200 hrs,
ISAF has reported some security incidents directed at the election,
but none significant enough to affect election structure.
Provincial reports by region follow:
Regional Command (RC) - North: Kunduz: PRT reports rocket attacks
continued this morning, with four rockets hitting the city shortly
before 8 am. No reports yet of casualties.
Faryab: Voting centers in the Khowaja Kinti and Khowaja Asfalan
Villages of Qaysar District have not opened because ANP scheduled to
patrol there were pulled away to reinforce other officers involved
in a firefight in an unspecified neighboring village. The PEO has
not been able to contact the polling site in Qasaba Qala Village of
Pashtun Kowt District of Faryab, since yesterday. He therefore
cannot confirm if the polling site opened. He reported all 12
voting centers in Gormach District opened.
Baghlan: Anti-coalition forces in Sar-e Khona district have been
conducting significant harassment and interdiction in the district
area. It is not clear if this is directed at voters. ISAF
responded to requests for in extremis support in the form of a show
of force by air power, which they are providing. A community elder
in Amer Abubakar reported to USAID PRT Rep that Baghlan's Jadid
district chief of police was killed in an attack in the Tapa Pashaee
area of old Baghlan around 8:30 AM this morning by insurgents.
USAID LES reports there is a critical situation in the whole
district of Baghlan Jadid especially along the main road of Baghlan
and Kunduz, with fighting in different locations between insurgents
and ANP and ANA. The main road is reportedly blocked. Three
rockets were fired into a residential area next to district center
of Baghlan Jadid with no reports of damage or casualties.
RC - South: Uruzgan: The governor reported to PRT DOS Rep that a
rocket fired into the city of Chora killed one civilian and injured
another. Uruzgan and ISAF security forces are presently engaged
with Taliban fighters in Khas Uruzgan and Deh Rahwod , which may
jeopardize the voting is select areas of those two districts. The
governor also reported that his intelligence sources reported the
placement of B1 rockets along a nearby mountain range, with the aim
of striking the governor's compound (NFI). Roads have been shut to
vehicle traffic for the duration of the vote, adding to the sense of
calm in the capitol. ANA, ANP and NDS generals are all currently
monitoring the security situation at Uruzgan's OCC-P as are U.S.,
Dutch and Australian military commanders and civilian political
advisors. Situation has become more tense in the capitol city and
elsewhere in the province as there have been at least three separate
rocket attacks, the most recent fell near a police check-point,
close to the governor's compound. Separately, the governor reported
and a UN contact confirmed that the polling station in Hussinea,
within Khas Uruzgan district, is surrounded by Taliban and attacking
the station. Election workers a attempting to secure the sensitive
election material and flee the location. Despite these attacks
voter turnout remained steady throughout the morning and a mobile
polling stationed has been established to reach those police and
army officials who cannot leave their assigned locations.
Helmand: There was a flurry of attacks from 0700-0730, including an
IED strike on PRT convoy and multiple IDF, but does not appear to be
deterring most voters. Many centers opened late. Mixed reports on
turnout from observers and LE staff. Security at PCs is reasonably
good; we have a report of one candidate agent (Karzai's) who was
instructing people how to vote being ejected by IEC staff.
Irregularities include some voting using entire families' cards and
a man in Kajaki telling IEC workers there would be 20,000 votes for
Karzai there. Widespread problems with hole punches so IEC staff
are ad hoc mutilating or cutting off the laminated corners of cards;
however, some reports that voters just re-laminate the card and go
vote again. Sporadic reports of underage voters, voters refusing
ink for fingers, and some campaigning within polling centers, but
this does not appear widespread. Local IEC head says turnout less
than expected in Lashkar Gah, though NDS says turnout is good.
RC - East: Kabul: Global Securities official reports a bomb blast at
0800 at center #125, 2 ANFREL observers are fine. MOI and NATO
report ongoing gun-battle in PD-8 district of Kabul - Post is
tracking these developments.
Takhar: Global securities reports a bomb blast near polling station
and voters fled to other polling stations in nearby areas. An IED
was found and defused by ANP, though the device later exploded in
the warehouse where it was taken for storage. No injuries were
Kapisa: Swedish embassy reports shots fired at Abdullah Office, in
Shar-e-Nau. More reports of three centers in Balkh Province where
hole-punchers were not working. The poll station officials were
improvising by using scissors to clip the corner off the voting
Khost: PRT Khost reports there was a rocket attack directly outside
the PRT at around 0900 local time. There were no reported
casualties. While some polling sites opened late as elections
workers got themselves organized, the PEO reports all polling
centers are open and operational. Despite a high number of
harassing incidences of direct and indirect fire across the
province, local contacts report strong turnout, primarily male, in
Tani, Gorbuz, Mandozai, Nader Shah Kot, Dwamanda, Matun, and Jaji
Maidan Districts. Female turnout is generally low, but there are
reports from Tani, Mandozai, and Matun Districts suggesting robust
female turnout at some individual polling centers. Voting in Khost
City got off to a slow start, but picked up throughout the morning;
long lines are now reported in the city. Many people have come from
more rural areas to vote in the city, believing security will be
better in the urban center. Some of these same voters asked polling
station workers to not stain their fingers with ink for fear of
insurgent reprisals; IEC workers refused their requests.
Ghazni: DOS OCC-P reported three rockets landed in Ghazni City, one
near the Governor's Compound at about 0750 locat time. The rockets
or mortars are being fired from Qalay Qazi west of the city center.
According to OCC-P, ANP found mines on the road to Zana Khan
district around 0800 local time, and believes the mines have been
planted to prevent people from traveling there to vote. OCC-P
reports that the polling center in Qareh Baghi village on the
southern border of Ghazni District has been closed due to security
reasons. ANP is reportedly moving the election materials back to
Ghazni City. People are being directed to vote in nearby Mungur
Kabul: According to Observation teams, polling center 223 opened a
bit late but is now functioning. No weapons are allowed in the
voting areas. Private vehicles are circulating; mostly taxis are
seen. Several checkpoints throughout the city, cars are being
stopped for ID checks. At Kabul station #219, no long lines, but a
steady stream of voters, more men than women, no problems reported.
At Poll Station #184, 1/8 hole punches broken and officials are
improvising using scissors and cutting triangle in corner of card.
Team 6 Reports the punches at Station #194 are also broken.
However, the polling staff is improvising by cutting a small
rectangular notch out of the IDs with scissors. Station 194 appears
to be otherwise working smoothly. Team 6 received information from
another observation team that Station #182 also experiencing
problems with card punches also. Team 4 at polling station #214
states station well organized, but sparse attendance. Observed
approx. 15 voters.
Paktia: PRT Gardez reports there were 12 attacks on polling centers
or city/village centers throughout Paktya province before 9am. In
Jani Khel District, IEC Provincial Director Najibullah Ahmadzai
reported that polling stations were closed temporarily due to
missile attacks and were reopened by 10:00 am. DFC Salihuddin
reported that the polling stations in Azbad Shah appeared to be
locked and were taking continuous rocket attacks by
Taliban/insurgents. In Gardez City, a suicide bomber detonated
himself at about 10:00 a.m. near UNAMA offices and the Governor's
Compound. There are no reports of injuries from the attack. There
is no apparent effort to block people from going to the polls and
voting. There is good voter turnout, including among women. In
Chamkani district, the District Field Coordinator reported all
polling centers opened on time, but security is unstable, with
several bombs having detonated along the main Chamkani road to the
polling station. There have been eight reported civilian deaths.
Additionally, eight RPG's were fired at the polling station before
10:00 a.m. In Zarmot District, DFC reported the security atmosphere
is permissive in the Nik Nam polling station with no reports of
missiles or IED's. Men and women alike are voting and there are no
reports of intimidation at this time.
Nangarhar: Security incidents have focused on the volatile southern
border districts of Nangarhar Province. An IED in Khogyani District
killed the Deputy Police Chief and one policeman and seriously
injured another policeman. There were several small arms attacks
overnight and this morning on polling stations, mostly resulting in
minor damage that did not effect polling stations' operations. In
Pachir Wa Agam District, however, one RPG and two mortar attacks on
polling stations resulted in minor injuries to two ANP. In
Jalalabad there was one small explosion near a polling station that
temporarily halted voting, but voters did not leave the line.
Initial reports indicate there were no casualties.
Paktika: Paktika has witnessed robust voting throughout the
province, particularly in Sharana, where the volume of early morning
voters necessitated the deployment of additional ANSF assets to
assist with crowd control. Election-related violence, generally
through indirect fire, in the district centers of Naka, Orgun,
Bermel, Khushamond, and Gomal appears not to have deterred
participation. Turnout is so strong in the southern districts of
Terwa and War Mamay that DFCs have requested additional balloting
material. Roullah Muslimyar, of Paktika's ECC office, told PRT that
his office had received a spot report from an ECC representative
observing voting in Sharana that a man presented seven to ten valid
registration cards and was attempting to vote on behalf of these
individuals. The man, according to the ECC, was given ballots for
each of the cards by polling site staff and voted. Muslimyar said
that when representatives from ECC HQ arrived at the site to stop
this individual from voting, they were barred from entering by the
polling center manager, who said he had guidance that ECC HQ staff
were not allowed to enter.
RC - West: Ghor: Election day is proceeding with minimal problems.
Two polling centers in Dolatyar district were closed for 30 minutes
due to interference of a PC candidate. ANSF restored order and the
PCs are open as of 1010. Voting in Chaghcharan is proceeding with
few problems. Balloting procedures are generally being observed and
polling centers are orderly with good turnout (especially women).
The biggest problem is that at the women's polling center, where
Kuchi women did not seem informed on the presidential election.
Some IEC officials handing out ballots told them "just vote for
Karzai." According to both the IEC and Afghanistan Independent
Human Rights Commission, 99 of the 250 polling stations in Ghor
Province are without ANP presence. Earlier reports that insurgent
commander Mullah Mustafa was in control of eight polling sites were
false. We are working to follow up with our PRT Rep in Ghor.
Badghis: DOS Reps observed the main polling centers in central
Qala-e-Now. At the men's polling center, polls opened 35 minutes
late due to the delayed arrival of Governor Arman for an opening
ceremony. The voting process appeared orderly and without major
problems. Several candidates were observed lingering in the polling
center, while one voter was wearing a campaign button and several
cars parked within ten meters of the center had campaign posters
prominently displayed. In the women's center, the scene was
chaotic. Women were patted down (by women) at the entrance,
resulting in a long delay to enter the polling area. In contrast,
men were not searched at their polling center and could enter
immediately. Police outside the polling center were abusive towards
the waiting women, pushing them back with their arms and their
weapons, and occasionally hitting them with scarves. More than one
hundred women waited outside. Inside, the atmosphere inside was
calmer, and poll workers appeared to be observing all procedures.
However, the ANP chief in Mogur district reported that two centers
had not yet opened and it wasn't clear if the Taliban would allow
Voting & Counting Activities
3. (U) According to Embassy observer teams and news reports, polling
sites have opened as scheduled across the country, with no current
reports of any sites not opening as planned.
4. (U) Ghazni: OCC-P reported at 0830 good voter turnout at Deh
Yak district, while Governor Usmani reported the same in Andar
district. An American soldier located in Ajiristan reported via
radio that 20-30 people have showed up to vote so far, and appear
enthusiastic, even while Taliban are moving about to confiscate
voter registration cards.
5. (U) Kabul: Post has received reports that holepunches at polling
stations 182 and 183 have malfunctioned. Due to the malfunctions,
four of six polling stations at site 183 have stopped functioning
pending repair of the punches. Observers report growing lines as
the IEC officers await a solution. German embassy reported
unauthorized persons seen at polling sites - wearing colored
armbands that said "volunteer."
6. (SBU) Kunduz: Some polling centers in three districts not open.
According to IEC and UNDP sources, election materials have yet to
make their way to at least some polling centers in Chahar Dara,
Dasht-e-Archi, and Aliabad districts. IEC did not have an exact
number of how many polling centers were affected but says efforts
are under way to transport materials to those polling centers.
7. (U) Nangarhar: Balloting material was delivered to all 492
voting centers in Nangarhar with the exception of one remote
location in the Markhanie area of Pachir Wa Agam District near the
Pakistani border, according to Nangarhar IEC officials. The
material could only be transported by donkey, and police refused to
provide security to the polling site because of insurgent activity
in the area and threats received by insurgents, according to IEC
8. (SBU) Thus far, voter turnout appears to be lower than expected.
There is considerable speculation that many Afghans are waiting to
ensure it is safe to vote, which could result in an increased
turnout in the afternoon. Polling began generally on time, with
President Karzai and Independent Election Commission Chairman Ludin
having been televised casting their votes on local and international
Khost: OCC-P Khost reports good turnout at many polling locations
so far this morning. We will report more fully when able to confirm
Nangarhar: Anecdotal reports indicate voter turnout in Jalalabad
started slowly, as voters waited to assess the security situation,
but has been picking up during the morning. The Nangarhar
Provincial Police Chief reports good voter across the Province.
Presidential and Provincial Council campaigns have been offering
free transportation to voters to the polls in all Districts. In the
border districts of Achin and Khogyani, tribal elders have been
encouraging citizens to assist the police with security and to vote.
Tribal elders report good voter turnout in Khogyani, while in Achin
male turnout has been high but female turnout low due to the IEC's
inability to recruit female polling station workers.
9. (U) Nangarhar: Election Observers and Provincial Council
Candidates complained to the IEC in the morning that certain IEC
workers in Kama and Kuz Kunar Districts, as well as Jalalabad City,
were reportedly urging voters to cast their ballot for specific PC
candidates, IEC officials reported. The IEC sent representatives to
balloting sites and fired the IEC workers on the spot, according to
Abdullah Safar, the IEC Administrative and Logistic Director
reported. The IEC reported that a Provincial Council candidate from
Mohmand Dara, Fida Mohammad Gardawal, was openly campaigning in
front of a polling station and urging voters to cast their ballot
for him. IEC officials sent a team in the morning to investigate.
Additional reports indicated that IEC workers at the same voting
center were urging voters to vote for Gardawal.
10. (SBU) Paktika OCC-P reports robust voter turnout in Sharana,
leading ANP to request additional ANSF support to handle the large
crowds. PEO Taj Ali reports all polling sites in Paktika opened as
scheduled this morning and that there is "good turnout" throughout
the province. He confirmed OCC-P's report of large voter turnout in
Sharana, and said that there has been no attack or threat
perpetuated against the province's polling sites overnight or this
Uruzgan: Atmospherics: At of 0900 local time, all is quiet in the
capitol city of Tarin Kowt with reported long lines forming at the
various polling stations around the city. Governor Hamdam and his
line ministers, along with about 50 guests, kicked off the election
by voting at a small polling station established in the governor's
garden. PRT DOS rep and a Dutch Civilian Representative, who was
also dual-hatted as an EU observer attended.
11. (U) AFGHAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS:
The leading story in the Afghan media was the opening of polling
stations throughout the country. President Karzai cast his vote at
Amani High School in Kabul. He called on Afghans to take part in the
elections and expressed hope that the elections would lead to a more
secure and prosperous Afghanistan. He added that the elections are a
great democratic achievement for Afghanistan. Abdullah Abdullah,
Karzai's main rival, cast his vote at Nadiria high school in Kabul.
There were reports of high turnout in some provinces, including
Herat, Badakshan, Mazar, Bamyan and Jalalabad. However, there were
reports of technical problems with voting equipment in Kabul and
some other provinces. Tolo TV reported that underage boys were seen
casting their votes at some polling centers in the provinces of
Bamyan, Kunar and Takhar.
Pajhwok News reported that bad quality ink is being used in two
polling stations in Kabul. Ramadan Bashardost, one of the
presidential candidates, said that the ink came off easily and
called it a fraud.
Ariana TV reported that the Afghan police confiscated a car laden
with explosives in Logar province.
Pajhwok Afghan News reported that two suicide bombers were arrested
in Takhar province. According to security officials, the suicide
bombers were attempting to attack polling sites in the province.
Pajhwok Afghan News also reported on a lack of police presence in 90
polling sites in Ghor province. The IEC and the Afghanistan
Independent Human Rights Commission confirmed the report and
expressed concern over the fairness of elections in the province.
BBC reported that 31 polling sites were closed in Gardez, Zurmat and
Jani Khail districts of Paktia province due to security concerns.
Provincial security officials said that security threats and the
fact that the IEC staff did not report for work were the reasons for
Radio Azadi reported on three explosions in Kabul this morning. The
Ministry of Defense confirmed the report and said there were no
BBC reported that two people were killed when a rocket landed near a
polling station in Helmand province. Taliban claimed the
responsibility for the attack.
Radio Azadi features interviews with people on the streets of Kabul
and southern Kandahar province. One of residents of southern
Kandahar province says he was very happy and willing to take part in
the election and vote for his favorite candidate without fear. A
female teacher of a school in the capital Kabul says she had not
registered for elections and would not vote because according to
her, the next Afghan president had already been selected and going
to the polling box was useless. She says it the foreign countries
are the real decision-makers in Afghanistan and that foreigners have
been the real role-players in Afghanistan for the past 30 years. The
report also reports optimism and increased enthusiasm and interest
of people in southern Kandahar province in the voting process. But
the reporter says not many women could be seen coming to polling
stations to vote expecting law turnout of women in the polls.
Provincial Media Reports:
Tolo TV in central Bamyan province reports participation of boys
under the age of 18 (not voting age) in the voting process. A
reporter says he saw boys under age 15 coming to polling stations to
vote. The reporter also says he saw cars with the pictures of some
candidates tagged on their windshields stopping in front of groups
of people walking towards polling stations. According to the
reporter, people inside these cars were asking people to go with
them to the polling stations and vote for the candidates whose
pictures were tagged on their cars.
Tolo TV also reports on optimism and large numbers of women
participating in the voting process in Pul-e-Khomri, the capital of
northern Baghlan province.
Tolo TV: A resident of the capital Kabul in interview with Tolo TV
reporter says he was fed up with poverty and will carry out a
suicide attack unless the government does something to improved his
living condition. Another angry resident of Kabul criticized the
current government for failing to improve the lives of ordinary
people, saying he is undecided who to vote for and that he might not
even go to the polling box and vote. Yet another resident of Kabul
says he was happy to take part in the elections, which is an
important opportunity for all Afghans.
Tolo TV also reported a smooth move-ahead in the voting process in
central Ghazni province, stating that people were standing in long
lines to vote.
A Tolo TV reporter in eastern Nangarhar province says he saw groups
of people walking towards polling centers to vote. The TV presenter
reports that a lack of voting materials at some polling stations in
remote districts of northern and southern Afghan provinces are
hampering the province.
A 'Tolo TV' reporter from central Maidan Wardak province quotes
residents as saying that the ink used in marking the voters is
removable. According to report, polling centers in some other
districts of the province were still not clearly identified by the
provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC) and people did not
know where to go to vote.
Tolo TV reports from southeastern Paktia on fires in Gardez.
According to the reporter, two rockets were fired on the city this
morning and landed in non-residential areas. The reporter also says
residents in groups were walking towards polling stations to vote.
There were no casualties.
A Tolo TV reporter from western Herat reports on a lack of polling
stations in the province, quoting residents as saying that they had
to wait hours at the polling stations to vote. The reporter says the
city of Herat was under a tight security precaution and that the
police and national army forces could be seen everywhere in the city
searching cars and people.
12. (SBU) MESSAGING: Messaging remains consistent with Afghan
Elections Situation Report One. We will review and update as
necessary for the next report.