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Viewing cable 09KABUL1874, KARZAI’S JULY 12 ELECTION MEETING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KABUL1874 2009-07-15 04:04 2010-12-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO7488
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #1874/01 1960453
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150453Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0160
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 001874 

SIPDIS 

COS USFOR-A 
DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A. EUR/RPM 
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA 
USFOR-A FOR POLAD 

EO 12958 DECL: 7/16/2019 
TAGS KDEM, PGOV, PREL, AF 
SUBJECT: KARZAI’S JULY 12 ELECTION MEETING 

Classified By: Ambassador Carney by reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY and COMMENT. President Karzai’s 12 July weekly meeting on election security produced the unwelcome news that polling center numbers must be reduced due to poor security and isolation. The DSRSG noted Khost officials have decided to co-locate 50 polling centers with the remaining 125 in the province. Ambassador Eikenberry concluded discussion by noting the urgency of getting the facts in all provinces by completing the assessment the President has called for. The President decided that Afghan government funds, 1.5M USD would be used to fund efforts to use community leaders to effect electoral security as appropriate. Minister Atmar described a decision to use USAID funding to help recruit women voter searchers. COMMENT: In fact the money will come from UNDP-ELECT that has received major funding from USAID. END COMMENT. Some discussion centered on the need to ensure rapid installation of local governance in Helmand districts freed by on-going operations. The President questioned the Defense Minister about the lack of “an Afghan face” in those operations. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

2. (U) On 12 July President Karzai’s weekly election security meeting included his Foreign, Interior, and Defense Ministers; NDS Intelligence Chief, Vice-Chairman of the Disarmament Process (DIAG), Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, NSC advisor and Director-General of the Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat. Of foreigners, the DSRSG, COMISAF, Ambs. Eikenberry Ricciardone, Carney and RAO Chief attended.

3. (SBU) Discussion heavily centered on the agenda item calling for security assessment of the nearly 7,000 polling centers. The Defense Minister noted that instructions have gone out for the range of relevant Afghan and ISAF authorities to reconnoiter sites and prepare a detailed plan to secure them, a plan based in realities of terrain and on the level of threat. Minister Wardak described the 11 July Election Security Rehearsal as “a positive step toward proper preparation for election.” He noted the need for another week’s time to complete reconnaissance and preparation of a detailed plan for securing the polling center sites. The President pushed, wondering how many sites have received assessment team visits so far. The Interior Minister replied that of the 6,966 centers, 400 sites have been visited so far. He noted that mainly the police alone, (sometimes with the ANA) had done the trips. Nor had they made any security plans for the sites as yet. He would issue instructions to add such planning, not merely to visit. NDS Chief Saleh said that he has received the full list of centers from the IEC and would have a report of sites visited for next Sunday’s meeting. IEC Chairman Lodin gave a report that noted dispatch of up to 90% of (non-sensitive) electoral materiel without incident. He spoke vaguely about some non-Taliban Afghan “troublemakers.” He cited problems in Herat, in two districts, and scored “high level officers” as “saying
KABUL 00001874 002 OF 004
things that benefit the Taliban.”

4. (SBU) DSRSG Galbraith cast doubt on the possibility of using, much less securing, all of the polling centers. He had just visited Khost where, he noted, in response to the Defense Minister’s questioning of his sources, local electoral and government officials had said they must co-locate 50 of the more remote polling centers together with the remaining 125 centers in the province. Galbraith expressed the suspicion that from one quarter to one third of polling centers in other provinces of insurgent presence would probably need the same treatment. The President doubted if the local population would be willing to go to the relocated polling centers. The DSRSG explained that such centers would be relocated to market town where people normally go to shop, not as close, but along routes the people know. He added that turnout would likely be reduced, but not so much as if 50 centers would be unable to open at all. After a comment on the need for recruiting women to do security searches of voters (below), the DSRSG concluded by observing the very short period left in which to recruit and train all polling workers.

5. (U) Ambassador Eikenberry noted the need to complete the surveying of all the polling centers in order to establish the facts and develop plans. Professor Lodin recalled the experience of voter registration in which people moved and shifted to other populated areas to get their cards.

6. (U) The need for women security checkers has apparently been resolved. Professor Lodin said that a total of 28,000 male and female searchers are needed for 7,000 polling centers. The IEC and the Interior Ministry are in discussion about this need and funds must be found that USAID can provide. Ambassador Eikenberry recalled that USAID moneys may not go through the Ministry of Interior as a matter of policy. He suggested that the Ministry of Finance can put funds into the Interior Ministry as it will receive a budget augmentation from forthcoming U.S. funds. Minister Atmar explained that an 11 July meeting of IEC, USAID and others had decided that the IEC would employ women workers and MOI would train them in search techniques. In this context he noted a decision to give women provincial council candidates one bodyguard each. He stated that, on the President’s instruction from the previous meeting, twenty IEC-identified warehouses would be subject of a “decision” for security that he did not explain.

7. (SBU) The Interior Minister also raised his earlier remarks about a “controversial map” that questioned assumptions about safe areas. He contended that, rather than relocate polling centers and thereby risking to disenfranchise voters, he proposed to:
a) deploy forces to secure priority (not all) districts;
b) Organize community leaders. Something that can work is the U.S. is willing to help with financing. Without such U.S. resources,
KABUL 00001874 003 OF 004
MOI would do what it could. President Karzai interjected that Atmar should take “our resources,” that he understood $1.5M would be necessary and do it. The Finance Ministry would reimburse MOI. MOI, NDS, IDLG and others would “put it into action,” and let the President know if more resources are needed. He cut short the contention of Minister Stanekzai that up to $3.0M might be needed, ending the discussion by reaffirming the figure of $1.5M.

8. (C) Continuing on the issue of contacting the local community for election security assistance, the President accepted COMISAF’s offer of Special Forces help. He recalled that local community leaders had been important in ensuring that voter registration went well.  Prof. Lodin noted that local leaders have enabled mobile registration teams to venture out up to 60 KM from province centers where the police normally restrict travel to 20 Km from the centers.

9. (SBU) Other electoral needs came under discussion with Minister Atmar noting exchanges at the 11 July election security rehearsal that put IEC need for helicopters to move sensitive ballot materials after the vote at one per province at least. He believed that security sector helicopters would likely be busy. He mooted the possibility that the UN might augment its existing contract with short-term helicopter rental with donor support. Ambassador Eikenberry again noted that the key is to identify the requirement and then to analyze capacity and discuss how to make up any shortfall. The DSRSG agreed, undertaking to look into the possibility of short-term helicopter rentals at this late date in the process.

10. (C) The President turned to the military situation in Helmand province, noting that the Afghan army is not visible and questioning the Defense Minister’s contention that the army is fully deployed around the country with only a limited number of troops available to join in the operation with the U.S. Marines. “People see the lack of an Afghan face.,” noted the President who observed that the Minister’s suggestion that he might add another battalion as an “insignificant” 600 men. He urged the Minister to try finding more forces to deploy in Helmand.

11. (SBU) Further discussion on Helmand included the DSRSG’s observation that the flow of internally displaced is less than initially feared. He added the need to ensure assignment and appointment of local governance officials as districts are cleared, underscoring the importance of delivering government services rapidly. All districts liberated in ongoing operations are having district leaders appointed, according to both Ministers Atmar and Wardak.

12. (C) In other developments NDS Chief Saleh stated that the Pakistan Army has said they are ready to mediate between Mullah Omar and the U.S. Amb. Eikenberry said that the U.S. has reaffirmed to Pakistan our policy that reconciliation is led through the government of
KABUL 00001874 004 OF 004
Afghanistan.

13. (SBU) COMISAF noted that ISAF forces had entered the embattled district of Barg-e Metal (Pakistan border, northernmost district in Nuristan) earlier in the morning without fighting. What had happened was not yet clear.

14. (U) President Karzai noted an agenda for the 19 July meeting would be out by Thursday, 16 July.
EIKENBERRY