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Cablegate: Afghan Elections: 100 Percent Preliminary Count Complete;

VZCZCXRO8186
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #2827/01 2601615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171615Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1515
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002827

DEPARTMENT FOR S/SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: AFGHAN ELECTIONS: 100 PERCENT PRELIMINARY COUNT COMPLETE;
AUDIT AND RECOUNT TO FOLLOW

REF: KABUL 2789

1. (SBU) Summary. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)
announced on Sept. 16 the long-awaited full preliminary presidential
election results (i.e. 100 percent of polling stations). Hamid
Karzai maintains his lead at 54.62 percent, with Abdullah Abdullah
at 27.75 percent and Ramazan Bashardost at 9.2 percent. The counted
votes do not include 579 polling stations the IEC had quarantined,
which will now be scrutinized by the Electoral Complaints Commission
(ECC), as well as 737 other polling stations that the IEC removed
from the total number of polling stations. Reducing this total
number of polling stations allowed the IEC to announce the 100
percent. The IEC's Sept. 16 announcement is a positive development
after days of foot-dragging have fueled conspiracy theories and
eroded public confidence. But the real challenges now are whether
or not the IEC and ECC can work in concert and productively on the
difficult tasks of auditing, recounting, and investigating
problematic polling stations -- which will take a minimum of two
weeks -- and, of course, whether the results of their work will be
accepted by the stakeholders in this election. While odds are still
in favor of a first round victory, the outcome is not certain, as
over 2500 polling stations may qualify for the audit/recount, and
many votes from these polling stations reside within the preliminary
count. UNAMA hopes that agreed methodology and an IEC/ECC
operational plan will be ready by Sept. 19. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On Sept. 16 IEC Chief Electoral Officer Dr. Daoud Najafi
announced full preliminary results of 5,662,758 valid votes, with
Hamid Karzai at 54.62 percent (3,093,256 votes), Dr. Abdullah
Abdullah at 27.75 percent (1,571,581 votes), Ramazan Bashardost at
9.2 percent (520,627 votes), Ashraf Ghani at 2.7 percent (155,343
votes), and Mirwais Yaseni at 0.89 percent (50,461 votes). Other
candidates received 271,490 votes, 173,200 votes were invalidated
because they were improperly marked, and 82,783 votes were
invalidated because they were for candidates who already dropped
out. The IEC announcement was supposed to take place on Sept. 14
but it was delayed without clear explanation.

3. (SBU) The IEC said the full preliminary count represents results
from 23,314 polling stations. This represents a drop of 737 polling
stations from the total number of estimated polling stations
nationwide that was announced at the previous press conference.

4. (SBU) In addition to these numbers, and outside the count,
another 579 polling stations remain under quarantine. The IEC has
"referred" these to the ECC for action.

5. (SBU) On Sept. 17, the ECC briefed that its Category A
investigations had produced invalidations of three more polling
stations in Ghazni and 14 in Kandahar. It also dismissed three
complaints in Ghazni. We are working to determine whether votes
from these polling stations have been included in the preliminary
count. The ECC said it would release the conclusions of its
investigations in Herat, Baghlan, Nangarhar, and Kapisa provinces
next week.

Analysis
--------

6. (SBU) Najafi's announcement of complete preliminary results,
while overdue, was a welcome development that provided key pieces of
the puzzle to a public starved for information.

7. (SBU) As the IEC worked to reconcile the actual number of
Tamper-Evident Bags (TEBs) it received with the number of polling
stations that were open and properly secured on election day, it
appears the IEC found a number of discrepancies, including "ghost"
polling stations. As a result, the IEC chose to reduce the total
number of polling stations on several junctures in the counting
process. For the final preliminary count, the IEC dropped the
number by a rather significant 737 -- from 24,630 (Sept. 12 figures)
to 23,893 (Sept. 17 figures). In sum, to reach its final
preliminary result, the IEC excluded from the count at least 1316
polling stations (including the 579 quarantined and referred to the
ECC).

8. (SBU) IEC and ECC are still working out the criteria for the
audit/recount, and we expect them to reach agreement on a way
forward by Sept. 18. Based on IEC and ECC comments, we continue to
believe the audit/recount will affect around 2500 polling stations,
some of which will be found to be in the preliminary results total.

9. (SBU) More than ever, it is essential that the IEC and ECC work
together in harmonious and swift manner to accomplish the large task
of completing the audits, recounts and investigations of Category A
complaints. This process can still be completed by end of
September. The number of polling stations that will be nullified

KABUL 00002827 002 OF 002


depends on the degree of fraud in the 2500 stations. Our message to
the ECC and IEC has been that we want to see a credible and speedy
process. We have supported transparency and statistically-based
criteria. We have urged the IEC/ECC to offer a technical briefing
on their methodology. Odds remain against a run-off, but there are
still many variables, so a run-off is still possible. Once results
are officially certified, the key question that remains is whether
or not stakeholders will readily accept the results of the IEC/ECC
work.

10. (SBU) UNDP-ELECT's Margie Cook briefed today that election
expert Carlos Valenzuela had arrived in country and that two others
from UNDP-HQ in New York arrived to assist the ECC with the
audit/recount process. From conversations with senior ECC, IEC and
UNAMA figures Sept. 17, we understand that behind the scenes
discussions will permit Valenzuela to engage very rapidly to get IEC
and ECC to complete discussions on audit/recount methodology and
finish an operational plan. UNAMA is hopeful that the SRSG will
have results to share with diplomats on Sept. 19.

EIKENBERRY

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