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Cablegate: Afghanistan's Electoral Bodies Speak Out

VZCZCXRO9173
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #2480/01 2351753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231753Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1032
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002480

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN'S ELECTORAL BODIES SPEAK OUT

1. (SBU) Summary: Over the next several weeks the Afghan
Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints
Commission are the focus of public attention as they make
almost daily announcements on election processes, results and
complaints. August 22 marked the first public statement of
the IEC since the August 20 elections, and August 23 marked
the first ECC public statement as well as additional details
from the IEC on how and when it will begin announcing
results. Final certified results not coming out until the
ECC has finished adjudicating relevant complaints. End
Summary.

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The Independent Election Commission
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2. (SBU) The Independent Election Commission (IEC), the
Afghan organization directing elections, gave preliminary
readouts about the day of voting at a press conference on
August 22. At that time, the IEC reported opening 6,199
polling centers of their projected 6,519. It is not yet
clear to observers that these numbers are accurate. The IEC
also issued a statement on election-related violence with a
simple press release on the killings of 11 of its staffers
nationwide, as of August 22.

3. (SBU) On August 23 the IEC had two more press conferences.
The first one was chaired by the Director of the Commission,
Sidiquallah Tawhidi. He presented a summary of the IEC's
report regarding the 48 hour pre-election media silence
period. He stated that the period had been generally
respected, and requested more patience in waiting for results
on the part of the media. Tawhidi stressed that no other
group or individual's reports of results could be trusted or
should be listened to. The Director was emphatic that only
the IEC can announce definitive results. He requested that
the media report only what they see and leave the
prognostications of non-IEC groups out of reports.

4. (SBU) Tawhidi also strongly condemned the arrests and
harrassment of reporters, all Afghan local media except for
one Japanese reporter, on the part of the GIRoA on election
day and in the days preceding. Tawhidi demanded that the MOI
investigate and prosecute any police wrongdoing.

5. (SBU) The second IEC press conference of the day was
chaired by Dr. Daoud Ali Najafi, Chief Electoral Officer, in
his trademark unflappable manner. He concentrated on
process, the area of his responsibility. As of the press
conference, provincial capitals had received 75 percent of
all TEBs containing vote tallies from individual polling
stations. Some capitals had received 100 percent of their
expected election materials. However, at the very low end
were Daikondi at 22 percent delivered, Ghazni at 28 percent
delivered, Takhar at 24 percent delivered, and Nuristan at 38
percent delivered. Somewhat surprisingly, PRT Kandahar
reports that Kandahar City has received all ballot boxes as
of August 22. If there is large-scale fraud in Kandahar, as
has been alleged by some, this could simply be evidence of
the eagerness of that operation to have its handiwork counted.

6. (SBU) The IEC has 110 people working in shifts and expects
to process 2,000 TEBs by August 25. As of August 23, they
had processed 750 of the 1000 TEBs that have arrived in
Kabul. There is some question about why more of the TEBs
from Kabul Province itself have not arrived at the tally
center for processing. As of August 22 only 2 TEBs out of
518 expected had arrived. They may be spread throughout all
the trucks waiting at the delivery area, where there is a
bottleneck.

7. (SBU) All ballot boxes and results forms should be in
their final locations by August 25, when the first partial
results will be announced. From then on, as results are
processed, there will be daily announcements by the IEC media
center and on the website regarding new tallies. (Comment:
There is a risk that this piecemeal doling out of information
may inflame the prognosticating going on on all sides, but it
is done in the interest of transparency. End Comment.)
Between September 3 and 7, uncertified preliminary results
will be broadcast by the IEC. From September 17 to 21, the
final certified results will be announced on the IEC website
and in the media. Previously the IEC had said they would
announce final results by September 17 but they have added a
window to give the Election Complaints Commission (ECC)
flexibility in adjudicating all the relevant complaints.

8. (SBU) Members of the Embassy elections team have been at
the IEC and tally centers since August 20. The IEC has
formulated a policy that that they would refuse to count the
ballots from any polling centers that had not had an official
Afghan National Security Force presence. The IEC plans to

KABUL 00002480 002 OF 002


verify the official polling center data for any questionable
boxes with their provincial and district IEC officials.
While there are allegations against IEC workers for bias and
even intimidation of voters in favor of particular
candidates, the organization seems to be struggling toward
relative propriety under impressive technical leadership.

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The Electoral Complaints Commission
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9. (SBU) At its August 23 press conference, the Electoral
Complaints Commission (ECC) was even more careful than the
IEC to stress that September 17 is not a firm date for it to
have adjudicated all the complaints it has received with
bearing on the election. Based on resource and time
constraints, the ECC took the effective step of prioritizing
the over 400 complaints it has thus far received regarding
election day. Those complaints that would have a bearing on
the results have been marked "prioritized" and of those, 35
have been designated "high priority." To date, none of the
complaints received by ECC were from an IEC polling station,
where the ECC had placed complaint forms for people to fill
out in the event of an irregularity. These forms have not
yet been received by the ECC.

10. (SBU) In its press conference the ECC offered few
substantive answers to questions about fraud incidents. This
posture is both appropriate and safe, especially since the
ECC, after a very slow start, has just begun to come into its
own and build its institutional capacity to investigate fraud
allegations. How much credibility the ECC is able to muster
from now on will depend on how it handles the complaints
about August 20 and also how it handles the firestorm that
will come regardless of which side it favors in its
adjudication.
EIKENBERRY

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