Search

 

Cablegate: Nicaraguan Electoral Authority Continue Manipulation Of

VZCZCXRO4210
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHRD RUEHRS
DE RUEHMU #0057/01 0331415
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 021415Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0598
INFO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAGUA 000057

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND DRL
DEPT FOR USOAS - STEVENSON
STATE PASS TO USAID
STATE PASS MILLENIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
TREASURY FOR SENNICH
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/02
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NU
SUBJECT: Nicaraguan Electoral Authority Continue Manipulation of
Regional Elections

REF: 09 MANAGUA 859

CLASSIFIED BY: Robert J. Callahan, Ambassador, State, US Embassy
Managua; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: On January 19, Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral
Council (CSE) issued its regulations governing electoral
observation for the March 7 regional elections. Civil society and
the political opposition agree that the regulations significantly
differ from past practice, severely limiting those eligible to
observe and keeping a careful eye on those who might eventually be
accredited. Following this, on January 22, the CSE issued a
resolution disqualifying 25 opposition candidates on the Atlantic
coast, three months after the process for disqualifying candidates
concluded and the CSE already had published the final list of
candidates. A week later, the CSE reversed its resolution on the
candidates blaming the media for erroneous reporting.
Unfortunately, the CSE's management of the 2010 regional elections
are mirroring its administration of the 2008 municipal elections,
leading to an increased likelihood that the fraudulent results will
also be the same. End Summary.

Restricting, if not Prohibiting, Observation

2. (C) On January 19, the CSE magistrates approved the
"Regulations for Observation and International Visitors Invited to
Accompany the Regional Elections," which is in accordance with the
CSE's norms. According to the regulations, those interested in
applying for credentials may submit an application to the CSE by
February 5. As one member of a non-government organization with
experience in Nicaraguan elections noted, the regulations are
severely restrictive and invasive and differ significantly from
those for the 2006 national elections and the 2008 municipal
elections. A member of the Electoral Reform Group (an association
of civil society groups formed after the 2008 municipal election
fraud to promote electoral reform) told us that the main concern
with the new regulations is the very clear and repeated mention
that the CSE has the discretion to deny accreditation to any person
or organization that speaks ill of any state institution.
Specifically, Article 5 of the new regulations state, "Any person
[or organization] that has stated their partiality, opinion and/or
judgment against the electoral authorities or the [March] electoral
process, or stated their support or opposition to any political
organization cannot be accredited as an observer." Article 23
further clarifies that electoral observers will refrain from
"issuing any expression of offense, defamation, or slander against
[state] institutions, the electoral authorities, political
organizations or candidates."

3. (C) The CSE's regulations for the 2008 municipal elections did
not contain this language, but the CSE ultimately did not accredit
credible observers for those contests using the same excuse - i.e.,
the observers were not impartial. For the March regional
elections, the CSE apparently already has disqualified one of the
country's two most respected observation groups - Ethics and
Transparency (EyT). In a public statement issued January 19, the
CSE condemned comments made by EyT's executive director who
questioned the credibility of the CSE magistrates as a result of
the 2008 election fraud. Another respected Nicaraguan observation
group, the Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE),
submitted its application for observation, but is skeptical it will
be accredited. According to an IPADE staff member, the application
process described in the regulations is unclear, arbitrary and
contradictory, which gives the CSE ample room to reject observation
applications. Another method that might be used by the CSE or
government to disqualify observers is the requirement that
applicant's submit their financial plan, complete with funding
sources, to the CSE and requires that these plans be certified by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the case of international

MANAGUA 00000057 002 OF 003


organizations and by the Ministry of Government in the case of
domestic groups. However, it is unclear how these ministries would
certify these financial plans.

4. (C) Aside from the restrictions mentioned above, civil society
groups and the political opposition have argued that the CSE's
regulations for the upcoming regional elections vary from past
practice. One organization that works Nicaraguan electoral issues
provided a comparison among the observation regulations for
elections in 2006, 2008 and the upcoming 2010 elections. For the
most part the 2006 and 2008 regulations were the same, with minor
differences. However, the latest regulations are more restrictive
than past practice. Following are some examples of how the latest
regulations differ from the past:

- General Principles of Observation: requires complete
impartiality with new language specifically prohibiting any
applicant who has expressed an opinion against the CSE or the
electoral process. (Article 5)

- Application Process for Accreditation: requires the list
of people who will observe the elections, broken down by the voting
district in which the person will observe (previous regulations
required a simple list of people once the organization was
accredited, but did not require the specification of location); and
organizations must submit their training plans and manuals to be
used in training their observers, which then needs to be approved
by the CSE. (Article 13)

- Observers' Rights: the CSE will provide an assistant or
staffer ("edecC!n") to "help" observers the day of the elections
(groups interpret this as limiting observers' ability to properly
observe the elections). (Article 21)

- Observers' Responsibilities: attend CSE training on
electoral observation and refrain from expressing opinions or
judgments regarding Nicaragua's internal issues. (Article 22 and
23)

CSE's Electoral Manipulation Doesn't Stop with Observers

5. (C) While the CSE plays with the rules governing election
observation, it is doing the same with the candidates participating
in the elections. On January 22, the CSE issued a resolution
disqualifying 25 candidates from the Constitutional Liberal Party
(PLC). This occurred three months after the CSE's own-established
electoral calendar stipulated the final candidates list had to be
published, which the CSE had done on November 5, 2009. On January 28, CSE Chief of Staff Rodrigo Barreto confirmed to us that the resolution disqualified 17 candidates from the Southern Atlantic
Autonomous Region (RAAS) and eight from the Northern Atlantic
Autonomous Region (RAAN) because the candidates had not complied with internal PLC statues (which bars party members who hold an office within the PLC from running for elected office). However, Barreto admitted it was unclear why these candidates had been disqualified three months after the final list of candidates had
been published. On January 30 and 31, CSE officials stated that
the candidates had not been disqualified, but rather that the media
had erroneously reported on the issue. On February 1, Barreto
confirmed to us that all the candidates were eligible to
participate and stated that there had never been a resolution. He
did not explain the contradiction between the January 28 and
February 1 conversations with us.

MANAGUA 00000057 003 OF 003


Comment

6. (C) The CSE's tactics of playing with candidate lists and
severely restricting (if not prohibiting) election observation are
some of the same tricks the electoral authority used to manipulate
the 2008 municipal elections. Threats of disqualifying opposition
candidates could discredit the candidates in the eyes of the
voters, increasing the likelihood that members of the Sandinista
National Liberation Front (FSLN) wins in the regional elections.
The CSE's regulations barring any observer who expresses a negative opinion about the CSE or Nicaraguan elections could be used to bar any non-FSLN member from observing the contests. Civil society and every opposition party have described the CSE and its magistrates as corrupt for facilitating the November 2008 election fraud, and have called for their resignation or non-reelection. These calls have come from not only the organizations working human rights and democracy issues, but also the private sector and various religious groups. Unfortunately, the CSE continues to demonstrate with its actions that it is beholden only to the governing FSLN and not
interested in conducting free, fair or transparent elections.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>

NGO Coalition On Human Rights: Call For A Stop To Police Brutality In Fiji

A viral video has circulated online showing two police officers utilising disproportionate and excessive force in detaining the suspect, an individual half their size. In the video it shows the man’s head being pressed down on the ground, his arms being ... More>>

UN: India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

7 May 2021 A new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India, leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday. In the last 24 hours, India registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths and 414,188 ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>