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Cablegate: Afghan Elections Situation Report Twelve - 1200 Local,

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #2457/01 2330730
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210730Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0995
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7830
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3835
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS KABUL 002457

DEPT FOR AFGHAN ELECTIONS TASK FORCE

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

SUBJECT: Afghan Elections Situation Report Twelve - 1200 Local,
August 21, 2009

1. (SBU) The next sitrep is scheduled for 1600 local on August 21.


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

2. (U) Reuters reported at 9:45 AM local time that Karzai's campaign
chief, Deen Mohammad, announced that Karzai was winning and a
run-off would not be necessary. Shortly thereafter Mohommad
confirmed to us that he had indeed spoken with Reuters, but had
given his personal opinion. He told Reuters that based on numbers
reported by Karzai observers in the field on Election Day, Karzai
appeared to be winning and in Mohammad's own view, the election
might not need to go to a second round. He also told the reporter
that it's the duty of the IEC to announce the official results.

3. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC South:
South Region IEC coordinator Qahir Wasifi reported that all 262
planned polling stations in Kandahar province were open yesterday.
Only two international observer teams - both representing Democracy
International - visited polling stations. KPRT received unconfirmed
reports that both Karzai and Abdullah supporters engaged in campaign
activities at polling stations in Kandahar City. In contrast to the
general reports of low voter turnout, there are unconfirmed reports
of high turnout in certain districts, such as Dand and Panjwayi.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the women's participation was low
across the province.
RC-East:
Laghman: The provincial capital of Mehtarlam appears peaceful, with
some post-election unrest in Alingar District (see security
section). PRT rep interviewed six Mehtarlam locals who said they
were proud to have voted, and very pleased at the relatively
peaceful election day. All spontaneously expressed support for
Karzai.

RC North:

-- Balkh Province: PRT Mazar-e Sharif reported anecdotally that two
male voters who participated in the previous presidential election
thought this election was better managed than the last, citing
better quality ink, better security, and no improper influence over
votes. Both voters were confident that the elections process would
be deemed fair and impartial.
-- IEC vote counters at the Aybak Boys School in Samangan
consistently held the presidential ballots up for inspection to
observers. Two hundred and sixteen presidential ballots were deemed
invalid because voters did not place a mark in the ballot and it
remained blank, and some voters checked multiple boxes of various
candidates.
-- Dr. Abdullah surpassed the competition at Aybak Boys School
Voting Center, winning 68 percent of the male ballots cast. Karazi
won 32 percent of the votes.

RC West:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC Central:

-- Nothing new to report.

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

4. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC South:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC East:

-- Laghman: PRT reported it still has no reliable count of voter
turnout. The provincial IEC representative declined to comment.
Anecdotally, turnout appears to have been good in Mehtarlam but may
have been substantially lower in outlying districts.
RC North:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC West:


-- Nothing new to report.

RC Central:

-- Nothing new to report.

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

5. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC South:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC East:
-- Ghazni PEO Rahimi called PRT Ghazni for urgent assistance early
morning of August 21 at the Zana Khan District Center, claiming it
was under attack. He claimed 40 people inside (including 2 injured
people) were in danger and that the election materials they had with
them might be destroyed. Polish Task Force White Eagle sent an
air-ground Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to Zana Khan and determined
that no fighting was in progress.
-- PRT Bamyan reported that fourteen relatively minor, but
unspecified, security incidents related to the election occurred
August 19 and 20 at the Ish Pesta valley located in Kahmard District
and in the Ghandak valley, Shibar District.
-- In Laghman Province, PRT reported one attack in Qarghayi District
on a polling site at a school near National Route 1, with small arms
fire targeting a polling center after it closed. No injuries or
damage to materials reported.
-- There were two incidents of elections-related violence in Alingar
District. In the first incident, angry locals allegedly blocked a
convoy carrying materials from their village and broke several boxes
of ballots (after counting). No injuries were reported. In the
second incident, an ANP vehicle escorting an elections convoy struck
a land mine with no injuries or damages to materials reported.
RC North:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC West:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC Central:

-- Nothing new to report.

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

6. (U) Seven teams from Embassy Kabul observed the counting phase
at polling stations. The IEC's late instructions that polling
stations be kept open an extra hour caused confusion at many sites,
where managers had already closed stations and sealed boxes at
around 4 PM. At some stations, ballot boxes had to be reopened, but
seal numbers were carefully recorded. The schedule change caused
counting to go long into the night. Where electricity flickered on
and off, poll workers used battery-powered lanterns to count
ballots. At one well-secured mosque in an old mud-bricked Hazara
neighborhood of West Kabul, an ANP policeman was eager to go home,
but he was unable to convince the polling center manager to hurry
his meticulous preparations for counting.

-- Embassy observers reported poll workers generally followed
counting procedures, and observers witnessed few irregularities in
counting. Observer and candidate agent presence was heavy.
-- Final turnout appeared to be moderate. Karzai "won" at some
polling stations, with Abdullah earning higher vote totals at
others.
7. (U) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC South:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC East:

-- Paktika PEO Taj Ali reports that not all stations in Paktika
completed the process of counting and tabulating ballots after polls
closed yesterday. Ballot boxes were secured in place by ANSF until

this morning, when counting across the province resumed around 8:00
AM. Taj Ali said he made this decision last night after DFCs
reached out to him seeking a delay given that widespread AAF threats
necessitated the shifting of ANSF assets away from polling sites
throughout the province. Taj Ali said he informed IEC-Kabul of this
course of action, and told PRT that limited counting occured last
night in more secure district centers, including the population
centers of Orgun, Bermel, and Sarobi.

-- Taj Ali is hopeful that most polling sites in Paktika would
complete tabulation by noon on August 21. In areas with high voter
turnout, such as Khair Kot, tabulation is expected to extend into
the afternoon. Only Shakhelabad district has completed counting.
Taj Ali told PRT that counting has gone smoothly this morning, with
no security incidents perpetrated against polling sites or staff.
The process is on track to have all results returned to the IEC
office in Sharana by August 24.
-- Ghazni PEO reported that that all polling centers have concluded
ballot counts across the province. The PEO agreed to travel to FOB
Ghazni to assist us with coordination on the retrieval of DFCs, vote
tallies, and other appropriate election materials. He said voting
materials for Khogyani, Rashidan and Zana Khan districts are ready
for pick-up by ISAF.
-- Bamyan PRT representatives reporting 166 polling sites across
Bamyan province. Stations opened on time and TOLO TV covered the
opening. Voting lines were longest before noon and slowed
significantly later in the day. Some of the hole punchers
malfunctioned and officials improvised by using scissors. Polls
closed an hour late at 5:00 and ballot sorting commenced at 6:30 PM.
Tally sheets are scheduled to be transferred from the province to
Kabul during August 21-25.
-- The Laghman Provincial IEC representative reported to PRT that
all ballots had been counted as of 11:00 a.m. on August 21. All
ballots from Mehtarlam (except for those from one village) and all
ballots from Qarghayi had already been returned to the IEC. Ballots
from Dawlat Shah, Alingar, and Dawlat Shah are still on their way to
their respective district centers.

RC North:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC West:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC Central:

-- Nothing new to report.


-----
Fraud
-----

8. (SBU) Provincial reports by region follow:

RC South:

-- PRT Lashkar Gah reports there are strong indications of ballot
stuffing in Musa Qala and Nad Ali, where in both instances vote
counts spiked late in the day despite the streets in those DCs being
nearly empty; the dubious votes are for Karzai.

RC East:

-- The Paktika ECC office reports that no formal complaints have
been raised since polls closed and counting began.
-- Kapisa Province: Ballot Stuffing in Tagab district: A reliable
source reported to TF Warrior that he visited the voting site prior
to any voters coming in and the ballot boxes were already full. He
specifically stated that no one had voted prior to these boxes being
filled with counterfeit ballots. Our source said that officials
have been alerted to the problem.
RC North:
-- Nothing new to report.

RC West:

-- Nothing new to report.

RC Central:

-- Nothing new to report.

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

9. (U) NEW MESSAGING:
Q. Have you seen reports that X campaign is announcing victory?
We've seen these reports, but only the IEC is in a position to
announce official results. We'll be waiting to hear from them, and
from the Electoral Complaints Commission. Anything else is just
speculation at this point.
Background: Reuters and other major international newswires are
reporting that Karzai's campaign has claimed victory in Thursday's
election. Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah's campaign has also claimed
to lead with 63 percent of the vote. The IEC has announced that
"any result not announced by the IEC is unofficial, inaccurate and
null and void."

Q. Have you seen X report from X observer group?
Several observer groups will make statements over the next week. We
are reviewing the report(s) as they come in. Observers play an
important role in helping ensure a credible election. We appreciate
their efforts in challenging circumstances. We look forward to
hearing official results from the IEC.

The Afghan people should be commended for their courage in
conducting this election despite the stresses of wartime, and the
logistical challenges of carrying out an election in Afghanistan,
and we and the international community are proud to support them.

The electoral process is now entering the critical phase of counting
and verification of results.

It will be several days before we have preliminary results and we
hope initial reports will refrain from speculation until results are
announced. Final results - which will be certified only by the
Independent Electoral Commission -- could take several weeks. We
call on candidates and their supporters to behave responsibly during
and after the elections.

The U.S. funded over 360 observers from independent international
NGOs and from Embassy Kabul to observe the process. These U.S.
funded observers were present in 29 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

10. (U) AFGHAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS:

-- The leading story in the Afghan media continues to coverage of
the yesterday's press conference by President Karzai and the joint
press conference by IEC, MOD, MOI, and NDS.
Afghan media also continued to widely report on the reactions by the
leaders of the international community to the Afghan elections day.
(See Sitrep 11).

-- Tolo TV reported that there were two polling centers in
Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province, where only 1,000 people
voted. The report also noted that women did not vote in Pul-e-Alam
due to threats from the Taliban.

-- Radio Salam Watandar reported on security incidents. One
coalition soldier was reportedly wounded by an IED explosion in
Logar, while three ANP were wounded during a separate incident in
Maidan Wardak province. The report also mentioned that five
civilians were wounded when a rocket landed in Kunduz province.

-- Tolo TV continued to report that people under the age of 18 were
seen voting for presidential and provincial council members in
Bamiyan province.

-- Pajhwok News Agency reported that male voters in some districts
and the capital city of Paktika province were allowed to cast
ballots on behalf of their female family members due to the lack of
separate arrangements for female voters.


EIKENBERRY

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