Cablegate: Afghan Elections Situation Report Eight - 2100 Local,
DE RUEHBUL #2451/01 2321614
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201614Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0966
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7806
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3811
UNCLAS KABUL 002451
DEPT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS TASK FORCE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM AF
SUBJECT: Afghan Elections Situation Report Eight - 2100 Local,
August 20, 2009
1. (SBU) The next sitrep is scheduled for 2400 local on August 20.
2. (U) President Karzai addressed the nation at 6pm August 20 to
thank the IEC and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) for
making the Afghan elections a reality, noting they had prevented
several attacks. He thanked the Afghan people for voting, despite
security threats from the Taliban. He said the MOI reported 73
security incidents in 15 provinces that caused civilian and ANSF
casualties; however, these incidents did not stop Afghans from
voting. He said Afghans have taken another step towards
strengthening Afghan democracy. He finished by thanking the
media-in particular the Afghan media-for reporting today. Contrary
to an initial report, he did not say there had been "free and fair
elections." The MOD, MOI, and NDS held a joint press conference
around 7pm August 20 to highlight security successes, and report
that the Afghans were "brave" and went to the polls.
3. (U) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said in an interview with the press
that he was pleased, overall, with the elections process. He added
that he would be filing complaints with the Elections Complaint
4. (U) All polling stations have now closed. At this time, polling
centers are counting votes, and starting to post tallies outside the
polling station. Diplomats observed that in the north and the
northeast, votes for the president seemed to overshadow votes for
the provincial council. In the Kabul area, the German Ambassador
saw many votes for the Presidential candidates, but noticed many
voters chose not to vote for Provincial Council candidates.
5. (SBU) At the UNAMA meeting with diplomats at 1900 local August
20, DSRSG Peter Galbraith said that according to impressionistic and
anecdotal reports from UNAMA field offices, he would guess that
turn-out was less than 50%, and specifically said that: for the
west, turn-out was high, perhaps greater than in 2004; the north
will also be higher than 2004; the northeast is low in Pashtun parts
of Baghlan and Kunduz and good in Badakhshan; central is very low in
Wardak and Logar; Kabul was not high compared with 2004; Panjshir
very low, possibly as a result of reluctance to choose between Fahim
and Abdullah; Paktiya very low except the Tajik community of Gardez;
in the south, turnout was extremely low due to security
considerations; in the east, Nanghahar was not as good as hoped, but
better than the south.
6. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:
(U) Kabul: Embassy Mission Observers report that polling stations
closed as scheduled, and the ballots were tallied according to
established procedures. They reported that press was present in a
few of the polling stations. Of the handful of polling stations
that posted results in Kabul, either Abdullah or Karzai won with
about equal frequency.
(U) RC South, RC North and RC East: No update since sitrep seven.
(U) Jalalabad reported a drop in voter turnout in the early
afternoon in Jalalabad city. Voter turnout was also reported low in
Khogyani District in the wake of the morning attack that killed the
Deputy Police Chief there. There was also a report of low female
voter turnout in Goshta District, reportedly caused by too many male
election observers, which may have intimidated females. Insurgent
intimidation also reportedly lowered voter turnout in southern
Shirzad district, along the mountainous border with Pakistan.
(U) RC West: Herat reported voting to be moderate to heavy, with
some polling booths still having long lines as of late afternoon.
According to the press, some polling stations ran out of ballots,
preventing "thousands" from voting.
7. (U) The German Ambassador met Interior Minister Atmar at a Kabul
polling center this afternoon. The Minister was very satisfied with
ANP performance, concluding the ANP has taken the right measures.
He noted that only four ANP had been killed and eight wounded on
elections day, which is actually below average compared to a normal
day in Afghanistan.
8. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:
(U) RC South: Uruzgan reported that local security forces in
Hussinea (within Khas Uruzgan district) were able to repel an early
afternoon Taliban attack and the polling station was able to
(U) RC East: Nangarhar reports that District Governors from the
volatile border districts near Pakistan reported generally good
security due to the cooperation of tribal elders who have been
providing additional security and urging high voter turnout.
Khogyani District was the exception where the District Governor
reported low voter turnout following the IED attack earlier in the
day that killed the district's Deputy Police Chief. Police arrested
a suspect who was carrying explosives and a trigger device.
Insurgents carried out indirect fire attacks on polling stations in
Nazyan, Achin, Shirzad Pachir and Wa Agam districts, but there were
no casualties and polling stations remained open. A female suicide
bomber in Jalalabad was arrested before she carried out her attack.
RC North and RC West: No update since sitrep seven.
(U) Herat reports that security is extremely tight in Herat city,
with many roadblocks and checkpoints. ANP were at every major
intersection and are even searching motorbikes before they can enter
the city. The provincial ANP chief reported no major incidents in
the province as of 1430.
Voting & Counting Activities
9. (SBU) UNAMA preliminary and partial results suggest that
President Karzai has done well in early Bamyan province tallies,
Bashardost is second, and Abdullah is third. The Indian Ambassador
had partial results from Kabul West that suggest Hazaras are voting
more for Bashardost in that area.
10. (U) At 1615 Ambassador Eikenberry called in from Qala Wazir
polling center in western Kabul to report that the center had run
out of ballot papers and some 400 people had been waiting in line
for over an hour. As he talked, word came that additional ballot
papers had arrived.
11. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:
(U) RC South: Uruzgan reported hearing from Governor Hamdam that
there were over 150 women voters waiting to vote in the northern
part of Chora district, but the lack of a female election worker
prevented them from voting. Gov. Hamdam immediately called Uruzgan
IEC Chief Osmani to see what could be done to rectify the situation.
(U) RC East: Jalalabad noted that IEC officials reported no major
logistical problems during the afternoon throughout Nangarhar
Province, but said they were having problems at many voting centers
using their hand-held hole punch devices to mark voter registration
cards after voters cast their ballots. They have instead been using
scissors to mark the cards.
(U) RC North: PRT Baghlan reported observing at two polling stations
in the center of Pol-i-Kumri, where voters calmly made their way
through the various steps, displaying savvy and understanding of the
election process. The election staff appeared well trained and
thorough. Security was not thought to present a problem and
election workers expected a strong turnout. The only issue of
significance reported was that some female voters were not able to
read the ballot and, therefore, were experiencing difficulty
identifying the candidates they wished to vote for.
(SBU) A European Embassy has heard unconfirmed reports of 2-12
Kunduz voters who had their finger cut off by the Taliban for
(U) RC West: Herat reported that voting centers were open in 15 of
467 in Herat Province, with most of those not opening (11) in the
Guzara district which is under the influence of local troublemaker
Ghulam Yahya Siwashani (AKA Akbari); one center in Kohsan district
near the Islam Qala border crossing did not open, and three centers
in the Pashtun Zarghun district did not open. A big achievement
was the opening of all polling centers in Shindand district, which
has been one of the more problematic districts in the province in
terms of security. State PRT Rep saw lots of observers at the
polling centers, mostly from the candidates, but also EU observers.
He noted that one observer identified himself as from the
Secretariat of the Presidency in Kabul.
12. (SBU) The SRSG DSRSG Peter Galbraith described to diplomats a
number of irregularities that he argued made little difference:
-Some said to have voted multiple times, having removed the
"indelible" ink. Others, never inked.
-Some card punchers did not work.
-Election officials are said to have directed how to vote as did
-Reports also exist of larger scale rigging of votes in Kandahar.
The DSRSG maintained that we will get a clearer idea if this is
true, and a large turn-out from parts of Kandahar would be suspect.
13. (SBU) Galbraith noted that he had seen candidate Dr. Abdullah
Abdullah in the afternoon, and reminded him of the complaint
process. Dr. Abdullah replied that he would use the Electoral
Complaints Commission process.
14. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:
(U) RC East: Jalalabad noted that IEC officials reported ongoing
problems in Nangarhar Province throughout the afternoon with
political election observers working for particular PC candidates.
Nangarhar IEC Director Dr. Akhtar Ajmal reported that some of these
observers - working on behalf of specific PC candidates - have been
interfering in the work of IEC officials at election centers and
demanding that some polling centers be shut down, while refusing to
give specifics about their complaints. No centers have been closed.
IEC officials also reported that many election observers working
for President Karzai and presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah
Abdullah have been very aggressive in urging people at polling
stations to vote for their candidates.
In a press encounter the late afternoon of August 20, SRSG Kai Eide
made the following points:
A) He noted grave concerns over security existed for the past few
days. Today had many incidents, but the situation was better than
anticipated due to the comprehensive efforts of Afghan and
international security forces.
B) The number of polling centers opened was 6200, that is the same
as the number opened in the 2005 parliamentary elections. This is
C) Turn-out obviously varied. Areas of conflict had lower turn-out
than stable areas. That is unsurprising. We cannot say what the
figures are as yet, but clearly, the turn-out demonstrates that
people wanted the elections.
D) We have heard many stories about irregularities. There is no
doubt that some took place. It is not something for me to comment
on, but rather, for the action by the Electoral Complaints
E) All in all, this was a good day for Afghanistan. Today filled me
with a feeling of respect for all the Afghans who organized and
protected the elections, and for all those who went and cast their
F) Afghanistan is now entering a new stage. I have a strong
conviction and hope that the maturity demonstrated in the campaign
period will be reflected in the post-polling period.
The British Deputy Ambassador noted that the UK Prime Minister may
make a statement similar to that of the U.S. Embassy.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS UPDATES:
-A combined media briefing was held with IEC Chair Dr. Ludin,
Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Interior Hanif
Atmar, National Director of Security Amrullah Saheh.
-Dr. Lundin reportedly stayed on message and said the ANSF and ANP
did a great job. He also said that Afghans showed they do not like
"foreign, imperialistic powers" ruling over them and their voting
today was proof of this.
-MOD's Wardak noted Afghans courageously participated with eight ANA
killed and 25 injured. He reported 135 total incidents today,
including five suicide attacks. MOI Minister Atmar also thanked
Afghan security forces and the IEC. He added that despite threats,
many Afghans voted but that nine ANP were killed and 14 injured. He
added Afghans in 70 percent of the provinces voted without
intimidation and in the remaining 30 percent, voters defied
intimidation and voted courageously.
-NDS Minister Saheh thanked media for restraint, adding the media
blackout requested was needed so that any incidents did not
discourage Afghans from voting. He added that recent arrests of
terrorists in Kabul led to information that prevented further
attacks, especially in Herat, Kabul, Wardak, Ghazni, Takhar, Paktya
-Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the
Secretary-General of the UN Kai Eide
"The Secretary-General would like to congratulate the women and men
of Afghanistan on today's Presidential and Provincial Council
elections. He notes that, by exercising their Constitutional right
to vote, the Afghan people have demonstrated again their desire for
stability and development in their country.
The Secretary-General commends the Independent Election Commission,
and all other Afghan institutions and international stakeholders
supporting the electoral process for organizing the elections in an
extremely challenging environment. He encourages all candidates,
their agents and supporters to continue cooperating with all Afghan
electoral institutions during the counting of ballots and the
results aggregation period, the complaints and adjudication process
and the certification of results."
-6,182 polling sites opened out of 6,519 (IEC)
-Significant incidents - 1,645 (estimated as of 6 p.m.)-ISAF joint
AFGHAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
-A local Kunar RTA affiliate delivered a positive "Get-Out-The Vote
message in early afternoon. Call-in voters were positive.
-A local Kunar RTA affiliate reported Coalition Forces preempted the
Anti-Afghan Forces from stopping voters in Naray and Chapadara
districts and as a result voting resumed.
-A local Kunar RTA affiliate reported a mobile Taliban radio station
in Sarkani District warned, "You will be punished if you vote.
Embassy Kabul statement:
The American people congratulate the people of Afghanistan as this
Election Day concludes, on the historic occasion of your nation
leading, for the first time, democratic elections for President and
Along with others in the international community, we await the
announcements of official results by the Independent Electoral
Commission in the days ahead.
Washington talking points, as needed, if asked:
-Ambassador Holbrooke, Ambassador Eikenberry and many other Embassy
observers were in the field today.
-We won't know the initial results of this nation-wide process until
the Afghan Independent Election Commission releases official results
several days from now.
-We're still assessing the levels of voter turnout, but obviously it
is encouraging that the turnout was significant enough for the
Afghan authorities to extend polling hours.
-The Afghan authorities have noted some technical irregularities and
some allegations of fraud, which will be investigated by the
Elections Complaints Commission.
-So far we haven't seen any incidences of major election-related
violence in Kabul or other cities. Reports are still coming in, but
right now it appears that Afghan National Security Forces capably
handled the incidences that occurred.
--The Afghan people have shown courage and we commend them for
exercising their right to express their views and choose their own
leadership in the face of threats.
ISAF forces were engaged by insurgent forces today, including
indirect and direct fire attacks against FOBs and patrols, as well
as IED strikes against ISAF convoys, but these engagements were not
election-related. Indeed, insurgent violence directed against
election sites and events was quite capably handled by ANSF. ANSF
did not request ISAF support in any election-related security
ISAF TALKING POINTS
-Regarding security, the Afghan National Security Forces did a
commendable job addressing all security issues they encountered
- Though violence was higher than normal, the Afghan National
Security Forces effectively prevented insurgents from affecting
Afghan voters' access to the polls.
- Today's security posture reflects the Afghan National Security
Forces' successful planning and preparation efforts and demonstrates
their professional capabilities and dedication to the future
security of their nation.
- ANSF capably handled all insurgent violence directed against
election sites and events; ANSF did not request ISAF support in any
election-related security events.