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Cablegate: Voter Registration Concludes in Sudan

VZCZCXRO6141
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1455/01 3620652
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280652Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4949
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001455

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM KPKO SU
SUBJECT: VOTER REGISTRATION CONCLUDES IN SUDAN

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1323 B) KHARTOUM 1281 C) KHARTOUM 1165
D) KHARTOUM 1262 E) KHARTOUM 1172

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Voter registration concluded in Sudan on December
7. According to election advisors, and based on the National
Elections Commission's (NEC) preliminary, unverified results, voter
registration turned out significantly better than anyone might have
expected, although problems were evident, including allegations of
fraud. Voter registration recovered from a slow start after
political parties ramped-up activities and voter education got fully
underway. The broad and generally peaceful voter registration
process has raised expectations higher for potentially-credible
April 2010 elections. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On November 23, the NEC announced a seven-day voter
registration extension from November 30 to December 7 to promote
greater participation and to make up for registration delays in some
areas. Despite a slow start(ref B) throughout Sudan, and especially
in the South, the NEC claims that approximately 16,246,486 voters
turned out to register, which would be 80% of the eligible voter
population as determined by the 2007 national census. Election
advisors were impressed by the high-turnout, but concerned about the
authenticity of the reported registration numbers.

-----------------------
CHALLENGES IN THE SOUTH
-----------------------

3. (SBU) The slow start in the South was mostly due to logistical
issues, including lack of registration materials and transportation.
Poor voter education especially plagued the South. Inadequate
political will of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and
southern political parties also hindered voter education about
registration. Observers from the U.S. Consulate in Juba heard from
State Elections High Committee officials in Juba, Torit, Yambio and
Bor. They noted their work was hindered by communication issues with
the NEC, delayed financial transfers and resource and staffing
shortages that delayed the registration process in some locations.
(ref A)

---------------------------------
REGISTRATION FIGURES RAISE DOUBTS
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) Based on official, but unverified, NEC-released figures
following the end of voter registration, the registration numbers in
Sudan showed marked and unexpected improvements in the final weeks
of the registration period. In Southern Sudan, election advisors
attribute at least some of this upsurge to the deployment of GOSS
officials from all branches of the government to their home
constituencies across the South. The latter led a massive
registration drive that began in late November and lasted until the
rolls were closed on December 7. Suspiciously, however, final
registration numbers in five southern states and Southern Kordofan
actually exceeded 100 percent of eligible voters (as calculated
using 2007 census data.)

5. (SBU) There are several possible explanations for this
discrepancy: GOSS officials, including President Kiir, argue that
it indicates undercounting during the disputed national census of
2007; some election advisors suggest that it points to registration
fraud; and yet others suggest that such a discrepancy is the result
of population movement, including the return of displaced persons,
which may have occurred since the census. It is impossible to know
exactly the reason for registration numbers exceeding 100% of
eligible voters in these states as data will not be available to be
analyzed due to the NEC's refusal to conduct a voter roll audit.

--------------------------------------
HEAVY SECURITY FOR DARFUR REGISTRATION
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Voter registration in Darfur took place with few security
incidents and moderate turnout according to domestic and
international observer reporting. The Carter Center reports that
not all Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camps could be reached
by the State Election High Committees. IDP participation was
marginal due to their political disenfranchisement and calls for an
electoral boycott by many IDP leaders (ref E). According to
domestic and international election observers, there was a very
heavy security presence at all registration sites in Darfur. While
registration was largely peaceful in Darfur, observers believe such
an intense presence of National Intelligence and Security Service
(NISS) and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) for security was not
conducive to an environment for a free and fair election in Darfur.


KHARTOUM 00001455 002 OF 002


--------------------------------------------
OBSERVERS NOTE PEACEFUL REGISTRATION PROCESS
--------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Domestic and international observers did not report
intimidation, violence or obvious fraud at and around registration
centers. The Carter Center notes in its statement that "Security
forces played a generally positive role in ensuring the security of
registration centers." Only two incidents of violence were reported:
an assassination attempt on the GOSS Minister of Agriculture and
Forestry and a gun fight between the Southern Sudan Police Service
(SSPS) and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) while the
SSPS was transporting voter registration materials. (ref A)

8. (SBU) The following are the state-by-state voter registration
figures released by the NEC. Percentages are based on census
estimates of eligible voters per state. These figures have not been
independently verified, and elections experts have expressed concern
about the accuracy of the figures countrywide:

--Northern Sudan

-Blue Nile (Ed Damazin) 350,618 (87 percent)
-Northern Kordofan (El Obeid) 900,573 (62 percent)
-Southern Kordofan (Kadugli) 749,232 (112 percent)
-Al Gezira State (Wad Medani) 1,543,340 (79 percent)
-Northern State (Dongola) 269,538 (64 percent)
-Al-Gadarif (Gedaref) 495,520 (75 percent)
-Khartoum (Khartoum) 1,932,783 (59 percent)
-White Nile (Rabak) 640,835 (70 percent)
-Sinnar State (Singa) 516,566 (78 percent)
-Kassala State (Kassala) 755,111 (78 percent)
-River Nile (Ed Damer) 435,659 (65 percent)
-Red Sea (Port Sudan) 687,181 (86 percent)
-Western Darfur (El Genina) 424,958 (69 percent)
-Southern Darfur (Nyala) 1,318,858 (67 percent)
-Northern Darfur (El Fasher) 685,879 (65 percent)
--Total Northern Sudan 11,706,651 (71 percent)

--Southern Sudan

-Upper Nile (Malakal) 416,471 (85 percent)
-Jonglei (Bor) 595,901 (86 percent)
-Alwihda-Unity (Bentiu) 522,196 (190 percent)
-Warrap (Kwajoc) 669,053 (140 percent)
-Western Bahar Al-Gazal (Wau) 249,848 (140 percent)
-Northern Bahar Al-Gazal (Aweil)451,789 (129 percent)
-Albuhirat-Lakes (Rumbek) 386,621 (107 percent)
-Western Equatoria (Yambio) 322,801 (92 percent)
-Central Equatoria (Juba) 532,031 (91 percent)
-Eastern Equatoria (Torit) 393,124 (87 percent)
--Total Southern Sudan 4,539,835 (108 percent)

-Total Registrations In Sudan 16,246,486 (79 percent)

-Total Out of Country Voter Registration 104,345

--Grand Total 16,350,831

9. (SBU) COMMENT: There is agreemenbt among both domestic and
international election advisors and observers that the registration
process went better than anyone had expected and produced a
surprisingly high turnout. Nevertheless, the process revealed
serious problems. For example, registration did not allow equal
access throughout the country for eligible voters to register and
take part in the political process. Verification of final voter
registration numbers is necessary to better gauge the overall
success of the process, but the NEC has refused to allow a donor
audit of the voter rolls. Despite these shortcomings, the voter
registration process has set the stage for potentially-credible
April 2010 elections in Sudan. END COMMENT


ASQUINO

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