Cablegate: January 19 Unama Meeting: London Conference,

DE RUEHBUL #0211/01 0211212
P 211212Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: At the UNAMA meeting on January 19 SRSG
Eide led a discussion on the JCMB, the London Conference, and
the Parliamentary elections. The British do not yet have a
formal agenda or speakers list for the London Conference and
will work to circulate a draft communiqu in advance of the
conference. Eide reported that the Independent Elections
Commission (IEC) will likely announce postponement of the
Afghan Parliamentary elections before the London Conference.
Meeting participants agreed that the international community
should attempt to reach consensus with its recommendations
for electoral reform. Eide cited the Lower House of
Parliament's list (reftel) as a positive example, but urged a
realistic focus on those items that can be accomplished in
time for a likely fall election. The SRSG also requested
donor help with focusing UN headquarters' attention on the
urgent need for recruitment of UN personnel in Afghanistan to
assist with the elections. End Summary.

London Conference

2. (SBU) The group briefly reviewed the status of
Afghan-authored papers for the January 20 JCMB, held in Kabul
(septel) in preparation for the London Conference. The
consensus was that the JCMB should not endorse, but only
"take note," of those papers which the GIRoA had not yet made
available in final form. The British DCM noted that the
London Conference agenda remained in flux and speakers are
still being selected. He expected a draft communiqu would
be ready for discussion o/a January 23-24. The conference
will also include side events, including a conference for
Afghan business leaders and a civil society event between
British and Afghan NGOs. Representatives from Afghan and
British civil society will also brief the London Conference
itself. The Japanese reported that they are planning an
Afghan Reintegration Trust Fund (ARTF) event post-London.

Istanbul Regional Summit

3. (SBU) The Turkish Ambassador briefed the group on a
separate Regional Summit planned for Istanbul January 26. In
addition to Afghanistan, invitees include all of
Afghanistan's immediate neighbors, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the
United States, the UK, Russia, NATO, the Secretary General of
the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the EU, and
the EC. The Turkish Ambassador said that President
Ahmadinejad of Iran had not yet confirmed his attendance.
The Turkish Ambassador specified that the focus would be on
trilateral Af-Pak-Turkey issues and education.

Parliamentary Elections

4. (SBU) SRSG Eide cited the recommendations regarding
electoral reform submitted to the Judiciary and Executive
branches by the Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga - WJ)
on January 17. The WJ noted that there were numerous
"obstacles" to holding free and fair elections by May 22 and
that only if these obstacles were removed would they support
holding elections by that date. The postponement should
continue until the obstacles were removed. The Parliament
listed the need to ensure adequate security for the elections
and disarm illegal groups; reform the IEC; amend the
electoral law; and, if possible, distribute national ID
cards. (Reftel)

5. (SBU) Eide recommended that the international community
(IC) concentrate on pushing for accomplishable objectives: 1)
making changes in IEC personnel and its mandate, to improve
transparency; 2) adding preventative anti-fraud measures
rather than concentrating just on fraud detection; 3) keeping
the ECC's three international Commissioners (he specified
that he wants at least one Muslim and to minimize the
appearance of North American dominance). On this score, Eide
said his ECC Commissioner search had yielded a "good number
of positive replies" and that he will soon present a list of
nominees. To the suggestion that international Afghans of
respected caliber be selected, the SRSG said there were some
dual-national Afghans on his list; 4) deciding earlier on
where the polling centers will be; and 5) training the IEC
Commissioners. Eide said that the IC should not appear to
back less ambitious reforms than the Afghan Parliament's list
but he again stressed that the IC should focus on what
realistically could be "do-able" by September.

6. (SBU) The Canadian Ambassador raised the need to address

KABUL 00000211 002 OF 002

candidate vetting improvements and Single Non-Transferable
Vote (SNTV) reform, to which Eide responded that these were
important long term programs worthy of support but were not
"do-able" by the fall. UNDP ELECT Chief Electoral Advisor
Margie Cook added that she felt a national ID card should be
addressed as part of a "broader package of reform."
Ambassador Ricciardone suggested that we discuss with Qanooni
what he feels is "do-able" before we decide on our own
minimum conditions. Ambassador Eide responded that we could
at least begin with the UNAMA list as he felt it was
something we could all unite behind and noted that he would
see Speaker Qanooni in a few hours. When Ambassador
Ricciardone suggested we agree as a group on a list of
minimum conditions before the London Conference, Eide said
that he would rather keep the process informal but that he
was hoping President Karzai would refer to the need for
reform in his speech at London. He did not expect formal
agreement on an electoral reform package from the GIRoA
during the London Conference.

7. (SBU) Eide reported that he had spoken to IEC officials
on January 18, and that they expected to declare the
postponement of the elections until some time after Ramadan
(which ends around September 9), but he was unsure whether
the IEC would announce a specific date. Ambassador
Ricciardone asked if the IEC had explained what reason they
would give. According to Eide, when the IEC had cited the
"lack of international funding," he had pressed the IEC not
to blame the international community for the postponement,
despite the 'evident temptation.'

8. (SBU) The British DCM asked what the UN will be offering
in electoral support given the lack of a UNAMA mandate. Eide
did not respond. Margie Cook said the IEC's budget
submission of about 120 million USD was overestimated by
about 20 million USD in one area and lacked about 60 million
USD in other areas. She expected to arrive at a total donor
request of about 160 million USD for the Parliamentary
elections after ELECT had finished its internal review of the
IEC budget, which she expected after January 23. DSRSG for
Management Robert Watkins promised donors by next week a
detailed financial report from ELECT on remaining funds from
the 2008-09 basket of donor funds. He also promised a set of
scenarios regarding what ELECT could accomplish if it handled
all electoral assistance in-house, and what it could
accomplish if it contracted out some support elements.

9. (SBU) Eide addressed the serious need for additional
UNAMA and UNDP personnel in-country to provide even modest
support to the elections. He said that he had told UN
headquarters that the placement process needed to be
undertaken urgently. He said that some UN agencies feel the
current recruitment plan will put the UN even more "in the
pocket of major donors." He worried at the prospect of a
UNAMA mandate without implementing capability or authority.
He hoped to have these questions answered before his
departure, on March 6 (his successor is scheduled to arrive
March 8). He requested donor assistance in moving the
process forward at UN HQ as the UN's attention was naturally
focused on Haiti for the time being.

© Scoop Media

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