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Cablegate: Afghan Elections Situation Report Nine - 12:00am Local,

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #2452/01 2321909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201909Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0971
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7811
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3816
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS KABUL 002452

DEPT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS TASK FORCE

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

SUBJECT: Afghan Elections Situation Report Nine - 12:00AM Local,
August 21, 2009

1. (SBU) The next sitrep is scheduled for 0400 local on August 21.


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

2. (U) Canadian Embassy representatives had a brief discussion this
evening with Seddiq Seddiqqi, Deputy Spokesperson for the Karzai
Campaign, to solicit his views and perspectives on today's
elections. Seddiqqi stated that the polling process had gone very
smoothly, and indicated that the Karzai campaign is anxiously
looking forward to the results. Apart from a report of candidate
agent problems in Balkh (see paragraph 11), Seddiqi reported that
the campaign did not encounter any major problems - the security
disruptions were not as severe as expected, and he felt that most
Karzai supporters had been able to access the polls. Seddiqqi
praised the work of the IEC, who he described as "well-trained",
"professional", and "impartial". He believed that Karzai had done
well in "almost all provinces", and re-iterated his belief that
Karzai would win the race in the first round. He acknowledged Dr.
Abdullah as a strong competitor, and so to Ashraf Ghani (albeit to a
lesser extent), but remained confident that Karzai would emerge
victorious.

3. Canadian Embassy representatives also had a late afternoon
discussion with Omar Ansari, the campaign manager for Ashraf Ghani,
to solicit his views on the outcomes of polling day. Ansari noted
the security challenges across the country throughout the day, and
cited specific threats made against the Ghani campaign by
insurgents, government security personnel, and local warlord.
Ansari singled out Kandahar (RC South) and Kunduz (RC North) as
having been particularly violent, and asserted that the level of
violence across the country, compounded by intimidation and threats,
had prevented many Ghani supporters from participating in the
elections. He went on contend that in Kandahar Province locals had
engaged in ballot stuffing. He argued that the violence in Kandahar
was actually the result of a plot hatched by Karzai to prevent Ghani
supporters from voting. Ghani, he insisted, is very much in the
running. He accused Karzai of misusing state resources, and
employing state officials to buoy his campaign. Ansari suggested
that Ghani likely did best in Uruzgan (RC South), Farah (RC South),
Kandahar (RC South), Paktia (RC East), Kabul (RC Capital), Kunar (RC
East), Balkh (RC North), and Sar-e Pul (RC North), whereas he likely
showed poorly in Baghdis (RC West) and Ghor (RC West).
4. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC-South:

-- Zabul reports that streets and bazaars appeared to be quiet
throughout the day. Voters, while limited in numbers, were
enthusiastic, waving and showing their ink stained fingers to
observers and passing convoys.

RC-East:

-- Khost reports that the mood on the street of downtown Khost was
almost celebratory, with people expressing strong support for the
measures taken by the ANSF to secure the election.

RC-West:

-- A PRT observer in Badghis reported that an Abdullah campaign
agent stated that the process in all districts of Badghis but Murgab
was fair and transparent.

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

5. FEFA reported a preliminary impression that indicated a lower
turnout compared to the 2004 Presidential election, in particular
female turnout. FEFA also noted a lack of female electoral staff at
"many" polling centers.

6. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC-South:

-- Zabul reports that voter turnout throughout the province is
reportedly low, although polls were kept open well past 1600 in some
locations to allow for voters in line to vote. Word of the poll
closing extension did not reach the IEC and ANSF until many polls
had already closed. In one of two female polling locations in
Qalat, women were observed voting, but in small numbers. Anecdotal

reports suggest overwhelming support for President Karzai.

-- Despite attacks, voter turnout in Uruzgan remained steady
throughout the morning and a mobile polling stationed was
established to reach those police and army officials who could not
leave their assigned locations.

RC-East:

-- Nuristan reports estimates that some 4,000 ballots were cast
today in the district of Barg-e Matal, equating to a voter turnout
of 42 percent in an area that still faces significant pressure from
anti-Afghan forces. The now-confirmed attack on one Barg-e Matal
polling site today only closed the polls for an hour.

-- In Parwan province, by all accounts (including the IEC and Task
Force Gladius patrol elements spread throughout the province), voter
turnout was heavy. Lines were reported at polling centers
throughout the morning province-wide. PRT officer accompanied
Gladius headquarters commanding officer around Bagram district and
to Charikar. Traffic on main routes and in bazaars was extremely
light, but we observed numerous people with inked fingers outside.
All polling centers remained open as of 1500.

-- Khost reports widely divergent turnout across the province, with
indications that insecure districts such as Sebari, Musa Khel, and
Qalandar had very low turnout, although Spera may be a surprise
outlier in this regard. However, in areas such as Matun, Mandozai,
Tani, and Gorbuz, turnout appears to be quite high. In some of
these areas, Khost reports that female turnout was 30-40% of that of
men at some polling centers.


RC-West:

-- Herat reports that minimal if any elections violations were
observed. The tremendous number of different party observers making
sure that the process was honest and transparent. The turn-out of
women everywhere was apparent and a great tribute to the women of
Afghanistan's courage and tenacity.

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

7. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC-East:

-- Zabul reports that sporadic and ineffective indirect fire attacks
were reported mainly in the morning in Atghar, Day Chopan, Nawbahar,
Qalat and Shajoy districts. In all districts polling centers and
stations remained open, with the exception of one center in Nawbahar
which closed temporarily but reopened within the hour. Several IEDs
were reported throughout the province. Overall, the enemy's
persistent and effective intimidation and threats apparently kept
voter turnout low. While the voting centers may have been secured,
the prospect of returning to a Taliban controlled village with an
ink stained finger may have been enough to discourage many voters.

-- Gardez reports that security was good at polling stations all
day, with the notable exception of the Chamkani polling station
where RPGs were fired at the polling station, but missed and killed
two children. The insurgents firing the RPGs were not apprehended.
In spite of the incident, residents continued to use their own
voting cards and there did not appear to be any active intimidation
during the late polling hours.

In Zormat District, Gardez insurgents fired five RPGs at a polling
center after it had closed, hitting the center but there with no
casualties. Eight other missiles hit the Kulal Gu ANSF-ISAF joint
base nearby, once again with no casualties. During the day roads
and alternatives routes were blocked by Taliban. The district
governor responded by telling residents which alternative routes to
take to reach the polls. ANA, ANP, ISAF and arbakai provided
security throughout the day and remained at the polling center.
There were no observers at the center due to poor security.

-- In Parwan there were three attempted rocket attacks reported
around the province. Two in the vicinity of BAF (on in the morning,
one in the early afternoon) did not result in any polling center
closures. One rocket in Shinwari district did temporarily close a
polling center in the morning, but the center was reopened shortly
thereafter. We also visited the OCC-P in Charikar mid-day, where the
Parwan COP, ANA 5/1 Kandak Commander, OCC-P Commander and other

senior officials were all calm and confident.

-- Khost reports that while incidents of indirect and direct fire
continued throughout the day, such activity peaked by noon, and
tapered off throughout the afternoon.

RC-South:

-- In Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan the situation has become tenser 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 are attempting
to secure the sensitive election material and flee the location.

RC-West:

-- Herat reports that were no incidents in the any districts. ANP
was present without being overbearing at all sites, with polling
center sites managed by capable and articulate managers.

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

8. (U) FEFA, the domestic observation organization, issued an
initial press release in the late afternoon based on the observation
of its 7,368 observers - including 2,642 women. FEFA observers
reported many polling centers opened late due to last minute
administrative and technical issues and security concerns or closed
temporarily for security incidents.

9. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC-South:

-- Zabul reports that all polling centers and stations opened with
only one center opening approximately an hour late, in Shamulzai
Province about 3km from the Pakistan border. No reports were
received of any polling centers improperly or inadequately staffed
or supplied. The only logistical/operational difficulty appeared to
be that the supplied hole punchers consistently broke. The IEC and
ANSF did a professional and thorough job in the preparation and
execution phases of the election. This is a credit to IEC and ANSF
leadership and the meticulous and detailed planning that has
occurred over the last 3-4 months in a province where 8 of 11
districts are heavily influenced/controlled by the Taliban.

RC-East:

-- In Parwan the PEO reported to the OCC-P late last night that six
polling boxes in remote Kohe Safi were broken and unusable. He
appealed to coalition forces to fly replacement boxes there.
Although coalition forces were unable to assist, the ANA provided
its own air assets to successfully deliver replacement boxes this
morning.

RC-West:

-- Herat reports that the only common complaint was that the hole
punchers used to indicate that voting was completed did not work
very well.
------
Fraud
------

9. (U) FEFA reported observing malfunctioning hole punches - used to
mark voter registration cards - in 15 provinces. The IEC responded
by instructing polling staff to mark voter's registration cards with
scissors. FEFA also reported interference by IEC staff with the
voting process, but did not provide any specifics as to the type of
interference or the extent to which it was witnessed.

10. Ghani's campaign manager cited examples of alleged fraud to a
Canadian embassy representative that included:

- In the Qala-e-Ghazian neighborhood of Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh local
strongman MP Eshaaq Rahguzar threatened Ghani supporters, and
demanded they support Dr. Abdullah;

- In some polling stations, IEC staff (reporting a shortage of
ballots) directed people to ink their fingers and leave their
registration cards behind; on the promise that the polling staff

would mark their ballots once replacements arrived;

- In the Palasposh region of Balkh he indicated that a local police
commander named Nader, together with his soldiers, was ordering
people by a polling station to vote for Abdullah;

- In Keshim district, Badakhshan, the district administrator was
reported to have provided transportation to voters to the polls on
condition that they vote for Karzai;

- In the Ahmad Shah Meena region of Kabul province, members of the
Ahmadzai tribe (supposedly loyal to Ghani), resisted ANP efforts to
close polling stations in their area;

- in Sar-e Pul, IEC official Segbhatullah Eshaaqzai, was reportedly
encouraging people to vote for Abdullah, and was arrested and
detained by the ANP.

11. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC-North:

-- The deputy spokesperson for the Karzai campaigned noted to a
Canadian Embassy representative that while overall voter turnout was
very good, Karzai supporters faced minor problems throughout the
country - Karzai candidate agents have reported instances of voter
intimidation (which they attribute to the Abdullah camp), occurring
mainly in Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif. The Karzai campaign claims to
have submitted formal complaints to the ECC, with respect to these
incidents.

RC-East:

-- Khost reports a credible account of fraud at a polling center in
Matun, where a provincial council candidate and presidential
candidate representatives were actively campaigning in contravention
of the election law. Additionally, voters at this same station
reportedly cast multiple ballots and were not prevented from doing
so by polling station staff.


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

12. (U) PUBLIC AFFAIRS UPDATES:
AFGHAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS

Other Top Stories:

-The leading story in the Afghan media was the coverage of the press
conference by President Karzai on the successful conclusion of the
election day. Karzai thanked IEC, ANA, ANP, and NDS for helping to
make the Afghan elections happen across Afghanistan. Karzai also
thanked Afghan people who voted despite intimidation by the Taliban,
IED explosions, suicide bombing and armed attacks across
Afghanistan. He said according the reports he got from MOI, 73
incident occurred in 15 provinces of Afghanistan causing civilians
and ANSF casualties.

-The second leading story in the Afghan media was the coverage of
the joint press conference by chairman of the Independent Election
Commission Azzizullah Luddin, Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak,
Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and the National Director of
Security Amrullah Saleh in which they announced conclusion of the
election day successfully.

-RTA reported that Dr. Abdullah said he will submit his complaints
about the voting process to the Electoral Complaints Commission.
The report also mentioned that Abdullah seemed to be pleased with
the results of the elections so far.

-Shamshad TV reported that Ambassador Eikenberry visited a number of
polling centers in Kabul city today. During the visit, Eikenberry
stated that people were voting freely in the elections and that
elections were being held in a transparent manner.

-Afghan media widely reported that voting process extended by one
hour across Afghanistan to allow more people to vote and will
officially concludes at 05:00PM today.

-VOA reported on comments by the State Department spokesman in which
he said that the Taliban campaign to disrupt Afghan elections will
fail.

-Ariana TV reported that higher number of women than men voted in
Zabul province. The reports said that a big number of men did not
vote because they believed that their vote will not make any
difference.

-Shamshad TV reported that unlike the expectations, a great number
of women voted in Helmand provinces.

-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.

-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.

-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 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.

-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 election.

-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.

-Pajhwok Afghan News 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 the closure.

-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.

-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.

-Radio Azadi reported on three explosions in Kabul this morning.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed the report and said there were no
casualties.

-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 improve 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.

-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.

-An editorial published by Pajhwok News Agency summarized security
and human rights concerns, concerns, the recent candidate
withdrawals, and UN Special Representative Kai Eide's and Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton's statements on the Afghan Elections.

-Tolo TV showed a new video clip in which Gulbudin Hikmatyar, the
leader of Hizb-e Islami, sets conditions for bringing an end to the
war in Afghanistan: the unconditional withdrawal of international
troops; establishment of a provisional government; holding of free
and transparent elections.

-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.

13. (U) Messaging remains consistent with 8pm Afghan Elections
Situation Report eight. We will review and update as necessary for
the next report.

EIKENBERRY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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