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WikiLeaks: 2009-11-02: 09BAGHDAD2931: Iraqi Election Law Update

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD2931: November 02, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 10:01 AM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD2931 2009-11-02 17:16 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2931/01 3061716
O 021716Z NOV 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002931 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2019 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Gary A. Grappo for reasons 
1.4(b) and (d). 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  Unable to overcome Kurdish intransigence on 
the UNAMI proposal on Kirkuk in the national election, the 
Council of Representatives (COR) ended session November 2 
without a vote but agreed to return for an additional session 
the next day.  Embassy and UNAMI discussions with Kurdish MPs 
suggest that KRG President Barzani has not yet issued a clear 
directive.  Speaker Samarra'i appeared exasperated and 
requested that UNAMI draft new language that would 
incorporate elements of VP Adel Abd al-Mahdi's proposal.  The 
Arab and Turkoman contingents have told us they remain 
prepared to adopt the UNAMI proposal, but are reticent to 
commit before the Kurds do (in the case of the Turkomans) and 
wary of crossing the Kurds ahead of the national election (in 
the case of the Arabs).  We will be working overnight and 
tomorrow to move the Kurds, making clear that the United 
States strongly supports what it sees as the fairest possible 
agreement for all parties and pressing for Barzani's 
acceptance of the UNAMI proposal.  END SUMMARY. 
State of Play 
2.  (C) Speaker Samarra'i was unable to follow through with 
his plan to call a vote on the election bill, including the 
UNAMI proposal for treatment of Kirkuk, at the November 2 
session of the COR.  Though 165 COR members were present, it 
quickly became evident that Kurdish parliamentarians would 
not support the plan for voting rules in Kirkuk that was 
presented by UNAMI on October 31.  In the absence of Kurdish 
support, the Speaker stalled for time, successfully 
convincing members to stay in Baghdad for an additional 
session on November 3 before MPs begin a scheduled week out 
of session.  As Samarra'i left the November 2 session open, 
this means that he can resume the session November 3 without 
a quorum of parliamentarians present.  However, a quorum (138 
MPs) is required for a vote on any legislation. 
3.  (C) COR Legal Committee MP Khaled Schwany (PUK - Kirkuk) 
objected to two elements of the UNAMI proposal: 1) holding a 
second round of elections in Kirkuk in January 2011, and 2) 
including reference to the "current administrative 
boundaries" of Kirkuk.  With regard to the latter, Schwany 
explained that Arabs and Turkomans insistence on using the 
1957 census as a basis for review of the Kirkuk voter list is 
a problem because that would include four districts with 
significant Kurdish populations -- Kular, Chamchamal, Kifri 
and Toz Khormatu -- that have since been incorporated into 
neighboring provinces.  In a meeting with acting Kurdish 
Alliance list leader Friad Rwanduzi, Poloffs stressed that 
while it was for the parties to decide whether to hold a 
second round of elections in January 2011 as part of a 
compromise agreement, raising the issue of the four provinces 
constituted an attempt to inject disputed internal boundaries 
(DIBs) issues into the election law debate, which the United 
States strongly opposed. 
4.  (C) On November 2, MP Saadi Barzinji, KDP hardliner from 
Kirkuk issued "an explanation" to the press about the Kurds' 
objection to the October 31 UNAMI election law proposal. 
Acting Kurdish Alliance List (KAL) leader Friad Rwanduzi told 
Poloffs the KDP and Kurdish Islamic Union (KIU) acted without 
instruction from Erbil in issuing their statement. (Note: 
Rwanduzi was part of the Kurdish group present with Barzinji 
when he gave his statement.  End note.)  Rwanduzi admitted 
Qwhen he gave his statement.  End note.)  Rwanduzi admitted 
that Barzinji's statement reinforced the perception that the 
Kurds were being inflexible about the law and potentially 
limited the Kurds' room for maneuver.  Rwanduzi said he had 
been in regular contact with President Jalal Talabani and 
intimated that the PUK is willing to be more flexible than 
the KDP with respect to election law modalities, but stressed 
that with respect to Kirkuk, the PUK and KDP must maintain a 
united front. (Comment: Rwanduzi's remarks were the first 
suggestion at the level of Kurdish parliamentarians that 
there is daylight between the PUK and KDP positions on the 
election law.  End Comment.) 
5. (C) Rwanduzi and KDP Chief of Staff Sarchel Lawrani said 
separately that KRG President Masoud Barzani contacted 
Deputy House Speaker Arif Tayfour early November 2 to give 
him limited latitude to negotiate on the election law; 
however, Rwanduzi stressed that the KAL cannot move forward 
on the UNAMI proposal or any other version of the law until 
it receives specific instructions from Barzani. (Comment: 
Rwanduzi's remarks make it clear that the Kurds' actions 
today in the COR were designed to stall progress either to 
allow the UNAMI proposal to die of its own accord or give 
BAGHDAD 00002931  002 OF 002 
Barzani time to reach a decision.  End comment.) 
6.  (C) Rwanduzi expressed concern about interference in the 
process by Turkish Ambassador Murat Ozcelik.  He alleged that 
Ozcelik had pressured Speaker Samarra'i and Iraqi Turkoman 
Front Sa'ad Eddin Ergec to reject a new proposal by COR Legal 
Committee Chair Baha al-Araji to vote on amendments to the 
2005 law that would allow the Independent High Electoral 
Commission (IHEC) to continue preparations for the election 
according to its operational timeline.  Al-Araji's proposal 
was to vote only on the election date, open versus closed 
list, and total number of COR seats, and to defer further 
discussion on Kirkuk election modalities until November 30. 
The Arabs and Turks fear, however, that if they accepted such 
a formula, the issue of whether and how Kirkuk would vote 
would not be addressed, constituting a de facto victory for 
the Kurds.  UNAMI Poloffs heard similar reports from Sunni 
Arabs about Ozcelik's interventions; they were also told that 
he had pressed Samarra'i to endorse an earlier proposal by 
Arabs and Turkomans to give two compensatory seats to the 
Sunni Arab and Turkoman blocs in Kirkuk (vice the one each 
prescribed in UNAMI's proposal). 
7.  (C) Rwanduzi shared with Poloffs a separate proposal he 
attributed to Speaker Samarra'i.  It called for using the 
2009 voter registration list and establishing a committee to 
review voter lists in all provinces.  In any province in 
which fraudulent registrations were found to have exceeded 
15-20 percent, new elections would be held in January 2011. 
He re-stated that Kirkuk cannot be singled out for review and 
that compensatory seats are unconstitutional. 
8.  (C) DCM Ford briefed Ayad Allawi (Iraqi National 
Movement) and Adnan Pachachi (former Foreign Minister) on the 
October 31 UNAMI election law proposal, of which they 
appeared to be unaware.  The DCM said that the Arabs and 
Turkomans appeared ready to accept the deal, while the Kurds 
are still studying the offer.  He told Allawi that the Vice 
President had spoken to KRG President Barzani on November 1 
to encourage support for the proposal.  The DCM then asked 
Allawi -- who has a long-standing relationship with the KRG 
President -- whether Barzani has the assurances he needs to 
move forward on the election law.  Allawi said Barzani is 
nervous about Kirkuk's future.  Allawi implied that he would 
not take a position against Barzani or the Kurdish bloc. 
(COMMENT: This is in line with what ISCI's Ammar al-Hakim and 
Da'wa Ali al-Adeeb told Ambassador Hill November 1; the Shia 
are reluctant to exert pressure on the Kurds to support the 
UNAMI proposal.  END COMMENT.) 
9. (C) The Ambassador spoke frankly with President Jalal 
Talabani November 1, and also engaged with KRG PM Barham 
Salih on the election law twice on November 2.  On the ground 
in Kirkuk, the Ambassador's Senior Advisor for Northern Iraq 
(ASANI) met with Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Christians to urge 
support for UNAMI's proposal.  Kirkuk's Sunni Arab Deputy 
Governor, Rakan Saeed al-Jubouri, described the UNAMI 
proposal as "a negative development," in large part because 
it called for the "heavily falsified" 2009 voter registration 
list.  He called MP Omar al-Jabouri in Baghdad with the ASANI 
in the room to raise his objections, and was discomfited that 
Omar al-Jabouri and "the (Sunni Arab) brothers in Baghdad" 
were "studying" UNAMI's proposal.  Imad Yokhanna Yaqo, Kirkuk 
Branch Director of the Assyrian Democratic Movement expressed 
concern that UNAMI's proposal ignored Christians and 
Qconcern that UNAMI's proposal ignored Christians and 
non-Turkoman/Sunni Arab minorities in Kirkuk and urged the 
USG not to forget the interests of Kirkuk's Christian 
Next Steps 
10.  (C) As election law debate the COR drags on, the IHEC 
Board of Commissioners continues to express anxiety about its 
ability to meet the operational timeline for a January 16, 
2010 election date.  With just 75 days to go before the 
election, IHEC is well under its previously stated 
requirement of 90 days to prepare for an election. 
Meanwhile, the Ambassador has instructed his Special Advisor 
for Northern Iraq to engage various interlocutors in Erbil as 
well as those traveling to Vienna with Barzani November 2. 
The Ambassador and poloffs will continue to press Kurds and 
others within the COR before a possible vote on November 3. 


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