INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Angola: Gra Extends Voter Registration Period

Published: Thu 21 Jun 2007 02:52 PM
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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0625 1721452
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211452Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4095
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
UNCLAS LUANDA 000625
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AO
SUBJECT: ANGOLA: GRA EXTENDS VOTER REGISTRATION PERIOD
REF: A. Luanda 622
B. Luanda 496 and previous
1. (U) Summary: Citing the logistical difficulties caused by the
country's war ravaged infrastructure and an unusually heavy rainy
season, the Council of Ministers extended the voter registration
period from June 15th to September 15, 2007. Government spokesmen
repeatedly stated that the extension won't affect current plans for
2008 Legislative elections and 2009 Presidential elections, but
opposition leaders remain unconvinced. While the GRA could be
blamed for poor planning, it is clear that this extension is
necessary to ensure broad participation in upcoming elections. End
summary.
2. (U) The Council of Ministers approved a 90-day extension to the
voter registration period on May 30, 2007. The registration period,
originally slated to end on June 15th, is now set to end on
September 15, 2007. The Council of Ministers' decision was based on
recommendations from the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and the
Inter-Ministerial Commission for the Electoral Process (CIPE). The
GRA plans to use this extension time to expand coverage in rural and
urban areas and hit its goal of 7.5 million registered voters; 5.1
Angolans had registered as of May 31st. CIPE Director Virgilo de
Fontes Perreira confirmed that once the registration period ends on
September 15 the verification and correction of the electoral books
will commence and conclude on November 30, 2007. He further stated
that the extension will not affect the GRA's plans to hold
Legislative elections in 2008 (no exact date yet announced).
3. (SBU) Civil society, religious leaders, and the major opposition
parties, including UNITA, also called for an extension, stating that
many people in key areas of support had not yet had an opportunity
to register. Nonetheless, opposition support for an extension comes
with concern that the GRA could utilize the extension to postpone
elections, and the opposition parties have made it clear that they
do not support further electoral delays.
4. (SBU) Background: The Electoral Registration law allows the
government to periodically launch new voter registration periods if
it believes that sufficient numbers of unregistered voters exist -
people who didn't have a chance to register previously because they
were sick, underage, out of the country, etc. The electoral rolls
must also be verified annually. Some opposition leaders are
skeptical that the 90-day extension could be the prelude to seeking
a "new" registration process, and that the time-consuming execution
and verification of this process will be a pretext to once again
delay elections. Opposition leaders state that delays favor the
MPLA, as the MPLA hopes to gain electoral support through the
completion of large public works and social welfare projects around
the country. Opposition leaders told A/S Frazer during her Luanda
visit that by commission or omission they don't believe CIPE has
sent sufficient registration brigades out to areas known to be
pro-opposition, and that the MPLA is encouraging CIPE to slow down
the registration in pro-opposition areas (Reftel A).
5. (SBU) Comment: While the opposition welcomes every opportunity to
hold the GRA's feet to the fire and offer up their suspicions of
political machinations by the MPLA, their top priority is getting
their supporters registered. The need for an extension has been
obvious for months. Both political parties and civil society -
entities the GRA calls "important partners" in civic education -
have repeatedly called for an extension. In the end the GRA showed
it lacked the capacity to pull off its tech-heavy registration
process in six months as planned, but all sides agree that
widespread participation in the electoral process is key for the
continued consolidation of peace. End comment.
Efird
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