Cablegate: Helmand's New Provincial Council at First Glance:

DE RUEHBUL #3002 2720414
R 290414Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Helmand's New Provincial Council At First Glance:

1. (SBU) Summary: According to preliminary results, Provincial
Council (PC) elections in Helmand produced a large turnover, with an
unfortunate increase in the number of members with ties to the drugs
trade or malign powerbrokers. Fraud may have played a role. The
PRT is prepared to work around the PC if necessary. End summary.

2. (SBU) On September 27, the Independent Elections Commission
(IEC) released its preliminary results for Provincial Council (PC)
elections in Helmand. The results indicated a large turnover from
the last PC, with just three incumbents - Haji Mohammad Anwar Khan
(Chair), Haji Mohammad Naim Khan, and Razya Baloch (one of four
female members) - being re-elected. (Note: The Haji Abdul Ahad
elected this time is a different individual from the person of the
same name on the last PC.)

3. (SBU) At first glance the new PC in many ways represents a step
backwards from the previous iteration. As compared to the previous
composition, a greater number of new members have ties to the drugs
trade or malign Helmandi powerbrokers (Sher Muhammad Akhunzada
(SMA), Abdul Rahman Jan (ARJ), Amir Muhammad Akhunzada (AMA), etc).
However, this should not be read as a good institution being taken
over by bad actors, as the prior PC contained members with ties to
each of these unpalatable elements as well, only now the weighting
is a bit different. The important difference is that the new PC
will likely have fewer honest brokers with whom the PRT and
Provincial Governor's office can work productively. Even though
several members appear to be linked to known malign actors such as
SMA, the strength of these links and the level of influence SMA and
others may have over them is altogether unclear. Unfortunately, the
two most effective members from the last PC, Haji Qurban Ali
Oruzgani and Eng. Ismail Khan, both declined to seek re-election.

4. (SBU) Of the new faces, Syful Malok and Ali Ahmad appear to be
the best bets for productive engagement. They are both regarded
locally as honest and are reasonably well educated, and do not have
known ties to the drugs trade or SMA. On the negative side, most of
the other new members are connected to the SMA/ARJ/AMA group,
although again the nature of these ties is unclear. Two PC members,
both re-elected incumbents, are major poppy growers (Anwar Khan and
Naim Khan). Atawullah, Nimatullah, and Abdul Bari Fayaz are reputed
to have some level of Taliban connections.

5. (SBU) There appears to be a correlation between the home
district and tribal affiliation of top vote-getters and those
locations associated with suspected large-scale ballot stuffing
during the election, indicating that some members may have
fraudulently won their seats. In terms of tribal dynamics, the new
PC will be dominated by members of the Barakzai (5), Norzai (4), and
Alizai (3) tribes, which may prove a source of tension in Helmand's
fractured tribal environment.


6. (SBU) The connections to malign powerbrokers, especially SMA,
could have a substantial and negative impact on the PRT's
relationship with the new PC. While it remains to be seen just how
much influence SMA has over these members, if SMA does pull the
strings the PC will not be a vehicle for genuine governance. In
that instance, the PRT would maintain a formal relationship with the
PC through regular meetings and briefings, but would sideline it in
practice by not involving the PC in programmatic or funding
decisions, and would not give the PC power over Community Councils
or other instruments of local governance.

© Scoop Media

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