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Cablegate: Usaid Acting Administrator Meeting On Elections In

VZCZCXRO7515
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1237/01 3071458
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031458Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4683
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001237

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SMIG UN SU
SUBJECT: USAID Acting Administrator Meeting on Elections in
Khartoum

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 24, USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo
Fulgham and Acting Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau for
Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA) Susan
Reichle participated in an elections and political processes
roundtable in Khartoum. They met with the U.N.'s Chief Electoral
Affairs Officer and USAID elections and political processes
implementing partners to discuss the considerable challenges that
Sudan faces to conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2010.
Coupled with limited time and political will, Sudan's upcoming
elections may not meet international standards. Despite these
shortcomings, Sudan, buoyed by U.S. and international assistance, is
poised to make significant democratic advances when compared with
its own political and electoral history. International and domestic
expectations appear to exceed on-the-ground realities, creating the
potential for disappointment and the concomitant need to temper and
manage expectations. End summary.

---------------------
DELEGATION MEETS POLITICAL PROCESSES EXPERTS IN KHARTOUM
---------------------

2. (U) On October 24, USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham and
Acting USAID/DCHA Assistant Administrator Susan Reichle met in
Khartoum with the U.N.'s Chief Electoral Affairs Officer and USAID
elections and political processes implementing partners. These
partners included the International Foundation for Electoral Systems
(IFES), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International
Republican Institute (IRI), and The Carter Center.

----------------------
CHALLENGES: ELECTION ADMINISTRATION
----------------------

3. (SBU) USAID/Sudan election implementing partners explained to
the delegation that the constitution and the electoral law call for
both executive and legislative elections, the simultaneity of which
creates significant challenges. Given the number of levels of
government, voters in the North and Darfur will cast eight ballots
each. Voters in southern Sudan will cast 12 ballots each.
Meanwhile, voters in Abyei, who can vote in state legislative
elections in both Southern Kordofan and Warrap states, will each
cast 11 ballots. IFES indicated that the National Election
Commission (NEC) will have to produce more than 1,200 different
ballots and distribute these ballots to the correct polling stations
across the country. The number of ballots will be difficult to
complete for the average Sudanese voter in the south, east, or
Darfur, who has little or no experience with past elections. An
exacerbating factor is the high illiteracy rate in southern Sudan,
estimated at 85 percent.

4. (SBU) The USAID implementing partners further explained that
voter registration, which begins next week, will also be a complex
process in Sudan, as will electoral administration. The legal
framework for credible democratic elections is incomplete, and
finalization of administrative procedures related to various aspects
of electoral administration continues to be delayed. For example,
UNMIS and IFES pointed out that with one week left before the launch
of voter registration, voter registration plans are changing almost
daily, and eligible voters have yet to be informed of essential
registration details such as when, where and how to register. UNMIS
further noted that the referendum law is 28 months late, while the
formation of the referendum commission is 24 months behind schedule.


5. (SBU) In addition, USAID/Sudan implementing partners manifested
concern that GOS funding for election preparation would be
insufficient to address the tasks at hand. They further lamented
that the National Election Commission (NEC) has been only partially
receptive to international expert assistance. IFES reported that,
in recent weeks, some Sudanese groups have raised the possibility of
an elections boycott. It is not yet clear how serious such a threat
may be, as this is a tactic often utilized to gain political
concessions and reforms.

6. (SBU) The Carter Center expressed concern over geographical
flashpoints for violence, and the incomplete status of election
security planning. Insecurity persists in Darfur, the Three Areas,
and pockets of the south, such as Jonglei and parts of Upper Nile.
(Note: The GOS-declared state of emergency for Darfur further
exacerbates adverse conditions for elections in that region,
significantly constraining not only physical movement but also
essential freedoms, such as freedom of speech and assembly. End
note.)

-----------------------

KHARTOUM 00001237 002 OF 002


USG AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT IS SIGNIFICANT
-----------------------

7. (SBU) Two Congressional supplementals have provided USAID/Sudan
with $70 million of funding for elections. This funding, coupled
with additional non-supplemental funding, makes USAID the largest
bilateral donor supporting elections and political processes in
Sudan with approximately $95 million total. The United Nations
Development Program Basket Fund currently includes approximately
$186.4 million in pledges and committed donor funds to support
elections, while UNMIS is supporting elections both through the
basket fund and through direct assistance that together total more
than $100 million.

-------------------------
ELECTIONS IN SUDAN: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
-------------------------

8. (SBU) Discussants commented that, despite the challenges noted
above, the upcoming election will likely be evaluated favorably when
viewed from a historical perspective. Further, current donor
investments are laying a foundation for electoral administration
progress and advances in civic participation in electoral processes
over a longer term. IFES noted that Sudan's last election
commission mobilized approximately four million voters during
previous elections, while planning for upcoming elections has been
based on targets of up to 20 million. (Note: Some experts believe
that actual registration ultimately may reach approximately 8-10
million, while noting that this estimate would be higher if southern
states are able to successfully implement registration. Reports
from southern states suggest that the NEC is not providing adequate
information and funding to enable southerners to successfully
organize and implement full-scale registration. End note.) Further,
Sudan's 2010 elections will include domestic monitoring for the
first time in the country's history. Finally, as UNMIS stressed,
electoral reforms included in the 2008 National Election Act improve
transparency and reduce the opportunity for electoral fraud by
stipulating the counting and posting of results at each polling
station.

-------------------------
EXPECTATIONS EXCEED ON-GROUND REALITY
-------------------------

9. (SBU) All USAID/Sudan partners cautioned that international
stakeholders, including the U.S. Congress and the media, tend to
have high expectations for transitional elections, despite the
likelihood that such elections may not meet international standards.
Discussants agreed on the importance of expanding outreach to U.S.
constituencies to emphasize that the path to democratic
transformation in most countries requires incremental improvements
in electoral processes over several electoral cycles. They surmised
that, given Sudan's electoral history, international assistance is
likely to lead to improvements in the 2010 electoral process in
Sudan, although international standards for free and fair elections
are unlikely to be met in 2010.

10. (U) The USAID delegation has cleared this cable.

WHITEHEAD

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