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Cablegate: Ndp Insider On Upcoming Elections and Legislation

VZCZCXRO3477
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1850/01 2671427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 241427Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3702
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001850

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ELA AND DRL/NESCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2029
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM KIRF EG
SUBJECT: NDP INSIDER ON UPCOMING ELECTIONS AND LEGISLATION

REF: A. CAIRO 1181
B. CAIRO 1059
C. CAIRO 814
D. CAIRO 464

Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor
Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. KEY POINTS

-- (C) On September 17, ruling National Democratic Party
(NDP) Shura Council Member Hossam Badrawi told visiting
NEA/ELA desk officer and poloff that high turnout in the 2010
parliamentary elections would benefit the NDP over the Muslim
Brotherhood.

-- (C) He called for a number of steps to bolster the
elections' legitimacy and increase voter turnout, including
the presence of international monitors. He recommended that
the USG encourage the GOE to accept such monitors under the
auspices of a "neutral, international body."

-- (C) Badrawi said President Mubarak has decided that the
2010 elections will be in the same single-district format as
the 2005 parliamentary elections, as opposed to a party-list
system.

-- (C) Badrawi is pressing for legislative progress in the
coming parliamentary session, which will begin in November,
on issues such as replacing the Emergency Law with a
counterterrorism law guaranteeing civil liberties, church
building, combating torture, and strengthening NGOs.

2. (C) Comment: Badrawi is also a member of the influential
NDP policies committee, a confidante of presidential son
Gamal Mubarak and a member of the quasi-governmental National
Council for Human Rights (NCHR). He is an energetic advocate
for improvements on human rights and political participation,
but has not been successful to date in convincing the GOE to
implement the recommendations he has pursued through the NCHR
and on his own (refs A, C). The degree to which Badrawi has
alienated conservative NDP members is unclear; a recent press
report alleged resentment within the party over Badrawi's
criticism of the GOE. Badrawi raises a number of important
issues regarding the 2010 upcoming elections. We will report
septel on our recommendations for how the USG can best pursue
its election-related interests through diplomacy and
USG-funded programs. End comment.

--------------------------------
Elections: Higher Turnout Is Key
--------------------------------

3. (C) Badrawi assessed that a large voter turnout in the
2010 Shura Council and People's Assembly elections would
favor the NDP over the Muslim Brotherhood. He attributed the
strong showing of MB-linked candidates in the fall 2005
People's Assembly elections to low voter turnout that
included a disproportionate percentage of MB supporters.
Badrawi said that the majority of Egyptians are not
MB-supporters and do not want to become like Palestinians in
Gaza "ruled by Hamas." Therefore, Badrawi continued, he
would like to see steps taken to encourage greater turnout in
2010.

4. (C) To increase voter turnout, Badrawi called for improved
voter registration, allowing expatriate Egyptians to vote,
and removing police from polling stations. Badrawi opined
that the High Election Commission should urge the public to
vote by citing improvements in transparency and the
registration process. He said NCHR plans to air radio
advertisements to encourage voter turnout. Badrawi
questioned whether the GOE has the political will to hold
more open elections with greater turnout, asserting that it
would be "easier" for the GOE to follow past practices.

---------------------------------
A Call for International Monitors
---------------------------------

5. (C) Badrawi believed international monitors would increase
the public's confidence in the legitimacy of the elections,
and he said he is privately advocating within the NDP for the
GOE to accept such monitors. He recommended early USG
engagement with the GOE on accepting international monitors
under the auspices of a "neutral, international body." He
also suggested the U.S. provide technical assistance for a
domestic monitoring effort coordinated by NCHR. (Note:
According to the AID-funded National Democratic Institute,
NCHR has not yet decided what role it wants to play with

CAIRO 00001850 002 OF 002


domestic monitors. End note.)

--------------------------------------------- --
Mubarak's Decision on Single-District Elections
--------------------------------------------- ---

6. (C) Badrawi said President Mubarak had recently decided
definitively that the 2010 elections would be single-district
contests as they were in 2005, with the two winning
candidates in each district gaining seats. Badrawi said he
and other NDP colleagues had strongly argued for a party list
system where nation-wide voting would determine each party's
share of the seats (ref D). Badrawi said he supported a list
system because it would strengthen parties and help women and
the Coptic minority.

7. (C) Badrawi speculated that Mubarak made this decision
partly out of personal pique at Badrawi for calling strongly
for ending the Emergency Law in the NCHR's September
submission to the UN Human Rights Council's February 2010
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Egypt. (Comment: We
believe Mubarak's decision was probably more of an attempt to
enforce party discipline in reaction to NDP reformers
advocating for a party-list system, than a direct response to
Badrawi and the NCHR's UPR report. Mubarak also probably
wanted to avoid the legislative and practical difficulties of
changing the electoral rules so late in the game. End
comment.) (Note: We will report septel on the September UPR
submissions by NCHR and NGOs. End note.)

---------------
New Legislation
---------------

8. (C) Badrawi predicted that passing a uniform places of
worship law with equal treatment for Muslims and Copts "would
take time." He said that President Mubarak is directly
involved in the process and believes that any new legislation
should preserve the presidency's role in approving the
building of new churches. He called for a counterterrorism
(CT) law guaranteeing civil liberties to replace the
Emergency Law, and acknowledged GOE resistance. (Note: Per
ref B, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shehab told the
Ambassador in May that the MOI had not approved the draft CT
law because it wanted a longer pre-trial detention period.
End note.)

9. (C) Badrawi said he is pressing for a new anti-torture law
that would penalize police officers for ordering subordinates
to commit torture, as well as senior officers who are aware
of torture taking place. He called for amendments to the
current NGO law that would transfer the power to dissolve
NGOs from the executive branch to the courts. Badrawi
predicted that GOE anxiety over the coming elections would
delay action on controversial legislation.
Scobey

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