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WikiLeaks: 2005-12-08: 05BAGHDAD4911: Review of Election Campaign Status with U.S. NGO'S

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 at 07:42 PM CT


Viewing cable 05BAGHDAD4911, REVIEW OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN STATUS WITH U.S. NGO'S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BAGHDAD4911 2005-12-08 20:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 004911 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2015 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: REVIEW OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN STATUS WITH U.S. NGO'S 
 
Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT S. FORD,
FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  POL and USAID met December 6 with IFES, 
NDI, and IRI to assess the state of the electoral campaign. 
There was general agreement that the mechanics of the process 
are well underway (the exception, for security reasons, being 
Anbar province; see septel).  An exciting development is the 
emergence of what looks like a real campaign, with grassroots 
outreach and media advertising and debates.  The fierce 
competition to become part of the new government has its 
downsides, however.  While the January elections and October 
referendum were dominated by concerns about the terrorist 
threat, this campaign has witnessed an apparent increase in 
1) the use of intimidation and violence among political 
rivals, and 2) acts of bias -- and, as importantly, 
perceptions thereof -- by selected institutions of the state 
such as provincial governments and police.  Yet the experts 
concurred that the election-related violence that is 
occurring in Iraq is typical of post-conflict transitional 
elections, and is not unique to Iraq. 
 
2. (C)  Summary con'td:   There is genuine anxiety among 
Iraq's political class about the prospect of ballot-stuffing 
on election day, and an apprehension that temporary local 
IECI employees in the provinces will be vulnerable to threats 
or corruption.  In an effort to preclude such fraud, a total 
of 81,000 domestic observers have acquired accreditation from 
the IECI, including Iraq's Election Information Network 
(EIN), which was trained by NDI and the EU and has mobilized 
15,000 observers.  In addition, political parties have 
designated more than 182,000 accredited party "agents" to 
observe at polling locations.  The IECI has undertaken a 
series of steps to address these concerns, including pre- and 
post-election audits in high risk areas and expanded support 
to its complaint mechanism.  Significant challenges 
notwithstanding, the election campaign is moving forward. 
End Summary. 
 
3. (C)  International and local staff from IECI (including 
the IECI Election Violence, Education and Resolution, or 
EVER, Project), NDI and IRI met with POL and USAID officers 
December 6 to exchange information and assess the state of 
Iraq's election campaign.  The group discussed the mechanics 
of the election, including Out-of-Country voting (OCV) and 
monitoring, and reviewed activities that threatened to 
undermine or disrupt the electoral process.  Below is a 
summary of the discussion. 
 
Mechanics 
--------- 
 
4. (C)  In large part due to the experience accrued in the 
previous two elections, logistical elements such as 
identifying polling locations, arranging movement of 
supplies, and training of staff are in hand.  After a slow 
start, planning for OCV in 15 countries is well underway, 
although communications between the IECI and other countries 
is poor.  IMIE is prepared to operate at OCV sites.  (Note: 
The IECI has accredited 778 international observers.  The 
vast majority is drawn from the international community 
currently present in Iraq.) 
 
Domestic Observers 
------------------ 
 
5. (C)  With significant assistance from NDI, the Iraqi NGO 
EIN has developed a "triple-check" observer network for each 
polling center.  The first tranche of observers will be from 
local residents near each polling center.  The second tranche 
of observers will be from a neighboring province.  The third 
and smallest tranche of observers will be from out of the 
region (e.g., someone from Mosul traveling to Basra.)  Given 
the logistical problems of transport and hotels, the third 
tranche will be hosted in the homes of their local 
counterparts (a practical arrangement that should increase 
their security, as well).  A total of 15,000 observers have 
been trained by EIN in a cascade arrangement (including 600 
national team leaders and a "core" NGO in each province).  In 
addition to EIN, there are some 50 other Iraqi observer 
groups, although few have EIN's national reach.  The IECI has 
accredited a total of more than 79,000 domestic observers. 
 
6. (C)  NDI and IRI have also trained several thousand "party 
agents" (in a train-the-trainers scheme), who will be present 
at polling centers to observe the process.  The IECI has 
accredited more than 182,000 party agents.  It is not clear 
whether this large number of party observers will actually 
turn out on election day, although the effort to obtain 
accreditation by so many reflects in part concern among the 
political parties about potential fraud. 
 
Threats to the Process 
---------------------- 
 
7. (C)  Many of the international experts were involved in 
the January elections and October referendum.  One difference 
in this campaign, they said, is the apparent increase in 
violence among political rivals, which has increased 
commensurate with the expansion of campaign activity.  The 
IFES EVER program (Election Violence Education and 
Resolution) cautioned, however, that until recently most of 
the electoral violence has been committed by insurgents. 
IFES EVER expects the period ranging from three to five days 
before the election and the day after to be the most violent. 
 
8.  (C)  Types of election violence reported by the group 
include the following:  vandalism of campaign materials; 
intimidation; death threats; assassination; small arms fire; 
and executions.  Reported examples of inter-party violence 
include an alleged KDP attack against the offices of the 
Kurdish Islamic Party (KIP) and Mahdi militia assassination 
of Badr officials.  One meeting participant personally knew 
of three incidents where a candidate's family members were 
kidnapped to force his withdrawal from the campaign.  (NOTE: 
One of these cases involves the abduction of the brother of 
former Governor of Najaf Adnan al-Zurfi.)  The media has 
publicized the murderous attacks against members of the 
Assyrian Democratic Movement, the Iraqi Islamic Party, and 
the Allawi List.  There is also the assumption that the main 
Kurdish parties are prohibiting other parties from traveling 
to campaign in Kurdish areas, and that the main Shia parties 
are using their militias to intimidate other parties from 
campaigning. 
 
9. (C)  A second troubling phenomenon of this campaign is the 
actual or apparent involvement of official organizations of 
the state in intimidation activities.  Examples include 
reports of police tearing down campaign banners and posters, 
failing to respond to attacks against political activists, 
and ordering political activists to cease campaigning.  There 
is a widespread rumor that the Education Minister, who 
represents SCIRI, has replaced the school administrators in 
the south to ensure that those teachers who serve as local 
IECI staff support the agenda of the UIA slate.  There is 
also the belief that some governors and provincial councils 
are complicit in efforts to thwart the visibility and 
campaigns of political opponents. 
 
10. (C)  Another factor is the perception that the IECI is 
biased or ineffective.  At a national level, there have been 
complaints that the IECI has failed to enforce its own 
regulations or impose sanctions, e.g. in cases involving the 
misuse of religious symbols in the election campaign.  The 
IECI has also been criticized for not responding to 
complaints in a timely manner.  During the referendum, there 
were anecdotal reports that local IECI poll workers permitted 
such inappropriate practices as allowing the head of a tribe 
to vote for his entire tribe, the head of a household to vote 
for his entire family, and armed security guards to accompany 
notable persons into polling stations. 
 
Fears about Fraud 
----------------- 
 
11. (C)  The most widely held concern is the fear that 
ballot-stuffing will take place once the polls close at 1700. 
 Although independent observers and party agents are 
authorized to stay during the ballot count, this practice is 
not well understood throughout the country.  A complicating 
factor is the curfew; observers who are permitted to stay may 
well be stuck at the polling centers for the entire night. 
There are also rumors that the large coalitions are seeking 
to bribe or intimidate local poll workers. 
 
Preemptive Steps 
---------------- 
 
12. (C)  During the January 2005 elections and October 2005 
referendum, the IECI gained significant experience in 
election administration.  Existing measures are in place to 
combat electoral fraud, including procedural measures, tally 
center validation, observation, and a complaints process.  To 
respond to the concerns specific to this campaign, the IECI 
is planning a series of pre- and post-election audits 
throughout the country, including areas with a suspect track 
record.  The purpose of the IECI audits is to act as a 
deterrent by signaling to the provinces that the IECI "is 
watching."  In response to recent criticism by political 
parties, the commission has increased the resources dedicated 
to its complaint mechanism.  Other measures undertaken by the 
IECI include the introduction of field monitors, an emphasis 
on anti-corruption, and outreach efforts and public affairs 
programs. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
13. (C) One meeting participant cautioned that the reported 
problems constitute but the tip of the iceberg.  We assume 
this is the case in many instances.  At the same time we 
assume other reported problems spring from partisan agendas 
or Iraq's active political rumor mill.  Post will continue to 
encourage the IECI to meet the challenge of identifying which 
complaints are legitimate, take meaningful action in such 
cases, and to publicize its readiness to do so.  We will also 
seek to encourage political actors to understand that the 
integrity of the election is in the interests of Iraq and all 
who aspire to govern this country. 
KHALILZAD


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