Cablegate: Ambassador, Human Rights Activist Discuss Secretary's Speech, Elections, Succession

DE RUEHEG #2323/01 3511659
P 171659Z DEC 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002323



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2029
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST DISCUSS SECRETARY'S SPEECH, ELECTIONS, SUCCESSION REF: A. CAIRO 2299 B. CAIRO 2283 C. CAIRO 2277 D. CAIRO 1925 Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) KEY POINTS: -- During a visit to the new offices of XXXXXXXXXXXX, Ambassador briefed on the Secretary's December 14 Georgetown speech, and made clear the U.S. commitment to support and assist human rights efforts in Egypt and the region. -- XXXXXXXXXXXX urged the U.S. and the international community to use a "moral voice" to ensure the GOE preserves the current political space available to activists, and does not backtrack on human rights. He requested a meeting with the Secretary when he visits Washington in February. -- He called for broad Egyptian NGO monitoring of the 2010 parliamentary and 2011 presidential elections. -- XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that succession scenarios are unclear, and that the military could play a role in ensuring stability. ---------------------- The Secretary's Speech ----------------------

2.(C) ON December 15, Ambassador visited the new offices of XXXXXXXXXXXX in downtown Cairo. She briefed XXXXXXXXXXXX on the Secretary's December 14 speech, stressing that the U.S. will continue to promote universal human rights values through a variety of tactics, sometimes speaking out publicly, while other times raising concerns privately. XXXXXXXXXXXX called for the U.S. and the international community to speak with a "moral voice" to encourage the GOE not to backtrack on human rights. He said it would be important to ensure that the GOE does not enshrine the State of Emergency in a counterterrorism law, and does not further restrict NGO activities through new legislation. He asked for the U.S. to help preserve the small political space the GOE allows activists. He assessed that ruling National Democratic Party reformers have no influence with the GOE. ------------------------------ U.S. Funding for Egyptian NGOs ------------------------------

3.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX voiced concern over the "political message" the Obama Administration sent by deciding to fund only registered NGOs with Economic Support Funds (ESF). He also suggested the U.S. monitor more carefully the funds it disburses to all NGOs (implying that some is not well spent). The Ambassador responded that the USG made its decision in the context of considering our overall aid package to Egypt. The Ambassador emphasized that the U.S. currently funds unregistered NGOs from sources other than ESF. (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX, which is an unregistered NGO, was recently awarded a MEPI grant to organize an NGO workshop and prepare publications in advance of the 2010 Forum for the Future. End note.) --------------------------------- Elections: Monitoring and Turnout ---------------------------------

4.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he hoped the GOE would allow a broad range of Egyptian NGOs to monitor the 2010 parliamentary elections. He noted that the quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) is responsible for licensing NGOs to carry out monitoring. XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed concern that the NCHR has been overly selective in the past, and has blocked some serious NGOs from monitoring. He assessed that it will be challenging for the GOE to encourage significant turnout for the both the 2010 and the 2011 presidential elections in face of expected voter apathy. XXXXXXXXXXXX said the GOE's dilemma would be how to "make the elections appear credible." ---------------------------- Succession Scenarios Unclear ----------------------------

5.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX described succession as "an open question." He CAIRO 00002323 002 OF 002 speculated that at some point either the military could step in to ensure stability, or Egyptian General Intelligence (EGIS) Chief Soliman could use his influence to facilitate a transition to presidential son Gamal Mubarak. Alternatively, he wondered whether General Soliman might identify a young military officer to lead the country. Hassan asserted that during a transition, the government could easily jettison constitutional provisions for the sake of stability. He characterized GOE decision-making as opaque, and imagined that President Mubarak formulates important policy outside of cabinet discussions, in consultation with General Soliman and the Interior Minister. ----------------------------- Request to Meet the Secretary -----------------------------

6.(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he plans to visit Washington in mid-February, and requested a meeting with the Secretary to present her with a copy of XXXXXXXXXXXX. (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX participated in the Secretary's June 4 discussion with Egyptian civil society members following the President's Cairo University speech. End note.) The Ambassador promised to forward the request to Washington. XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Ambassador that he plans to visit Geneva in late January along with other Egyptian NGOs to meet with diplomatic missions in advance of the February 17 UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Egypt (ref C). Scobey

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