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Cablegate: Paktika Peo Details Significant Reduction in Polling

VZCZCXRO9030
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #3398 2971246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241246Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2436
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KABUL 003398

DEPARTMENT FOR 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: PGOV PREL KDEM AF
SUBJECT: Paktika PEO Details Significant Reduction in Polling
Stations, PC Fraud, and GIRoA Influence

1. SUMMARY. Paktika PEO Taj Ali told PRT that IEC-Kabul has
agreed to significantly reduce the number of polling
stations within the province and will rehire only the most
capable District Field Coordinators. It has not, however,
taken steps to correct lessons learned from August
regarding the logistical needs of the provincial IEC
office. Taj Ali, noting that he expected Provincial
Council results for Paktika to be announced within the next
few days, stated that trends of fraud in PC voting mirrored
that of the presidential election and approached, in his
opinion, 50 percent. END SUMMARY.

2. In a far-ranging, 75-minute conversation at the PRT,
Paktika Provincial Election Officer Taj Ali detailed IEC
planning for the second round of presidential voting.
Paktika, he said, will see a significant reduction in the
number of polling centers, polling sites, and District
Field Coordinator (DFC) positions. Taj Ali stated that the
number of polling centers open on November 7 in Paktika
would only be about 70 percent of those open in August, noting that
this reduction would cull nearly half of the polling stations in the
province. Similarly, the number of District Field Coordinators
hired for the November runoff would drop by two thirds: only 45
would be hired compared to 132 in August. Taj Ali said the IEC made
the decision to close any site that witnessed fraud, was difficult
to secure, or saw little or no voting in August. The DFCs, he said,
would be selected from the "best performers" in August; DFCs at
centers with fraud will not be rehired. Responding to PRT Officer's
concerns regarding the potential disenfranchisement of voters in
areas that will see station closures, Taj Ali stated that he will
review the list of sites just received this morning from Kabul to
ensure sufficient coverage.

3. Taj Ali detailed logistical issues that plagued the
August vote. He noted issues with GIRoA officials;
including Sub-Governors, Chiefs of Police, and NDS district
heads; pressuring DFCs for positions on the employment
rolls of the local community security forces. These
individuals he said, sought to secure a double payment for
the security they were already providing as GIRoA/ANSF
officials-adding the 9,000 Afghani sum paid to the
community forces to their salary. IEC-Kabul, he said, has
not taken to heart lessons learned from August in
supporting the work of PEO's in the field. Issues related
to polling station supplies have not been addressed.
Neither, he said, has IEC committed to issue cell phone SIM
cards with more minutes to allow IEC officials in the field
to communicate more regularly with Sharana and Kabul.

4. Noting that Paktika's Provincial Council (PC) results
have not yet been announced, Taj Ali noted that the trends
of fraud in PC voting mirrored that seen in presidential
voting. Using Governor Katawazay's candidate uncle as
an example, Taj Ali said that there were instances of
polling stations tabulating exactly 600 votes for President
Karzai and 600 votes for the Governor's uncle-with not a
single vote cast for another candidate in either race. Taj
Ali speculated that fraud in PC voting may have been as
high as 50 percent. Results, he said, should be announced
within the next week.

5. Comment: Taj Ali is a valued contact of PRT Paktika who appears
to be service-oriented and performs his job competently. His
communications with the PRT do not seem motivated by politics. End
Comment.


EIKENBERRY

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