US embassy cable - 05NDJAMENA384

LIFTING TERM LIMITS: PUBLIC REFERENDUM SET FOR JUNE 6

Identifier: 05NDJAMENA384
Wikileaks: View 05NDJAMENA384 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ndjamena
Created: 2005-03-14 06:37:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM KDEM CD Political Stability
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1125
INFO AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
USLO TRIPOLI 
USMISSION GENEVA 
C O N F I D E N T I A L  NDJAMENA 000384 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/C, AF/RSA, DRL; LONDON AND PARIS FOR 
AFRICAWATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2014 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, CD, Political Stability 
SUBJECT: LIFTING TERM LIMITS: PUBLIC REFERENDUM SET FOR 
JUNE 6 
 
REF: NDJAMENA 04 1980 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Kathleen FitzGibbon for reaso 
ns 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary: Chad's public referendum on constitutional 
amendments to remove presidential term limits is scheduled 
for June 6.  Voter registration for the referendum has been 
completed, but was plagued by numerous technical and 
logistics problems.  The call by some opposition groups for a 
boycott of the registration went unheeded.  The Government is 
now compiling and verifying the electoral list which will 
then be open for public scrutiny.  The Government of Chad has 
requested donor assistance for the referendum and 2006 
election process.  It is too early to tell if the Government 
will be able to keep its timetable.  End Summary. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
VOTER REGISTRATION COMPLETED 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
2.  (C)  The Government of Chad announced that the public 
referendum on the proposed constitutional amendments will be 
held on June 6.  The registration process, which kicked off 
on January 10, had to be extended to February 16 because of 
the lack of registration materials and other technical 
shortcomings.  Various officials of the National Commission 
for Electoral Registration (CENRE) told emboffs that they had 
"underestimated" the number of Chadians to be registered. 
The Government had prepared 5,000,000 registration cards but 
ran out in many areas.  (Note: Another issue is without an 
accurate census, the Government is unclear about what 
percentage of Chadians are of voting age.  End Note.) Most of 
the registration was conducted door-to-door.  Registration 
officials in eastern Chad, for example, used donkeys and 
bikes to reach local villages.  In some places, there were 
designated locations to register, but these sites were often 
located at the offices of local government authorities. 
These sites were less than neutral and may have deterred many 
residents from registering. 
 
3.  (C)  Opposition parties are already charging that the 
Government gave more voter registration cards to the nomads 
and this explains why many cities lacked cards.  Local 
authorities in Moundou, Kourma, and Sahr are concerned 
because nomads were registered in their home areas but will 
be allowed to vote outside those areas.  In addition, they 
will have four days of voting.  The Deputy Governor of 
Moundou Masagar Mbairidoum Lucas and (now former) Governor of 
Sahr Danyo Ndokedi told Pol/Econ officer on March 2 that it 
will be impossible to keep track of whether or not nomads 
have voted at other locations.  They suspect that there will 
be a number of irregularities in eastern Chad.  According to 
Lucas, military officials insisted on the four days of 
nomadic voting.  Many regional military officials own herds 
and will likely appear at polling places with the nomads to 
influence their vote, according to Lucas.  Danyo told P/E 
officer that there were not enough voter registration cards 
in Sahr.  The Minister of Territorial Administration Mahamat 
Zene Bada authorized CENRE to collect names for the 
registration in notebooks, which were bound together and sent 
to N'Djamena, according to Danyo.  He admitted that there 
will be no way of tracking the names of those registered. 
Lucas said that the Government has demonstrated in previous 
elections that there are many ways to cheat.  He said that he 
hoped their would be international observers for the 
referendum. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - 
OPPOSITION TURMOIL 
- - - - - - - - - - 
 
4.  (C) Opposition groups were divided over participation in 
the registration process and show no signs of a united front 
for the referendum.  Ten key members of the Party for Freedom 
and Development (PLD) defected over the party's call to 
boycott the registration.  They joined the ruling MPS on 
March 5.  Other key leaders, such as Saleh Kebzabo, 
Abdelkadar Kamougue, and Ngarlejy Yorongar, argued that all 
Chadians should be registered because in the event of the 
death or incapacitation of the President, elections would be 
arranged within 90 days and the standing electoral list would 
likely be used.  Along with PLD's Ibni Oumar Saleh, former 
President Lol Mahamat Choua and Jean Alingue called for a 
boycott.  Key opposition leaders are still divided over 
whether to boycott the referendum or to run a campaign for a 
"no" vote.  The umbrella group, Coordination of Political 
 
 
Parties for the Defense of the Constitution (CPDC), is 
already calling for a boycott.  However, after its position 
on the registration was undermined when key leaders broke 
ranks, it is not clear that CPDC will be able to develop a 
common position on the referendum that will be effective. 
Chadian authorities in several cities and human rights groups 
tell us that the political opposition boycott was not 
respected. 
 
- - - - - - 
NEXT STEPS 
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5.  (C) The electoral list is being compiled by hand and then 
computerized in N'Djamena and will be presented for public 
viewing for 45 days.  Given the irregularities of the 
registration process itself, opposition and human rights 
groups have already told us that they plan to file protests 
and challenges to the list.  Once the electoral lists become 
official, two weeks of political campaigning will commence. 
The referendum is scheduled for June 6, but it is not clear 
if the date will slip due to issues with the electoral list 
or technical delays in terms of delivering election 
materials.  There had been rumors that the Independent 
National Electoral Commission (CENI) wanted to hold the 
long-awaited municipal elections on the same day. 
 
6. (C) Key human rights groups, such as the Chadian League 
for Human Rights (LTDH), were critical of the opposition 
politicians' calls for the boycott.  LTDH supported the 
registration process because they believe it is every Chadian 
should be registered to have the right to vote.  Nonetheless, 
LTDH chairman Massalbaye Tenebaye told Ambassador Wall on 
March 7, that LTDH is opposed to the Constitutional revisions. 
 
7.  (C) The ruling MPS is expected to campaign on the theme: 
a vote for the referendum is a vote for peace, unity, and 
stability, according to Lucas.  Since the beginning of the 
year, President Deby appears to be reaching out to a number 
of constituencies.  His public appearances at the cathedral 
during the holidays and strong speech in favor of the 
controversial family code and on women's rights on 
International Women's Day are two occasions in which he has 
reached beyond his Zaghawa and Muslim bases.  Lucas, who is 
an MPS member, said that if Deby chose not to run for a third 
term, it is possible the MPS opposition could rejoin the 
party.  He believes opposition within the MPS will grow 
instead. 
 
8.  (C) Lucas also warned P/E officer during a March 1 visit 
that international observers are necessary for the elections 
because the likelihood of widespread fraud is likely.  He 
suggested that it may already be stolen.  He received reports 
that some individuals may have received 2 to 3 registration 
cards, which may explain why there were not enough cards 
available for everyone who wanted to register.  Governor 
Danyo of Sahr told P/E officer on March 2 that there were not 
enough cards for voters, so CENRE and local government 
officials were instructed to write the names of voters in 
notebooks for transmission to N'Djamena. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
APPEAL FOR DONOR SUPPORT 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
9.  (U) On March 9, the Minister of Plan Mahamat Ali Hassan, 
Minister for Decentralization Oumar Boukar, and the President 
of the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) called 
together the donors to request assistance for the upcoming 
electoral processes, including the referendum and the 
municipal, legislative, and presidential elections.  The 
price tag for the referendum, they told the diplomatic corps, 
is USD 3,921,569.  To date, the Government has provided all 
the funds for the process.  The bulk of the funds are being 
used to fund CENI's activities and the rest are being used 
for training of election officials, logistics, and materials 
needed for the referendum. 
 
10.  (C) After the Government's presentation, the French 
Ambassador Jean-Pierre Bercot, speaking in his capacity as 
head of the European Union delegation, noted that the United 
Nations Development Program (UNDP) is the primary mechanism 
for many E.U. countries, including France, for electoral 
support in Chad.  Bercot said that there already may be some 
funds at UNDP's disposal for the upcoming elections. 
However, he said that donors would need to have the calendar 
and the budget for the municipal, legislative, and 
 
 
presidential elections.  He also noted that France is still 
waiting for a response from the Government on issues 
concerning the 2001 elections.  He wondered if changing the 
Constitution is part of the electoral process.  He urged the 
Government to move forward on the municipal elections, which 
would represent a signficant democratic milestone as local 
officials will be elected.  He also raised the issue of 
whether or not election observers will be requested. 
According to Bercot, francophone countries can provide 
foreign observers. 
 
11.  (C) Ambassador Wall also emphasized the importance that 
the U.S. places on reinforcing democratic institutions in 
Chad.  He agreed with the French Ambassador that it is 
critical to have the electoral timetable and budget and 
consultations among the donors, particularly with UNDP, 
before making any requests for assistance from Washington. 
UNDP stated that the United Nations Political Affairs Bureau 
will evaluate the situation and whether the criteria for free 
and fair elections are in place in order to determine UNDP's 
role and level of support.  Bercot suggested that the UNDP 
meet with the CENI to develop an official request for 
assistance and that UNDP share that with the donors. 
 
- - - - 
COMMENT 
- - - - 
 
12.  (C)  We anticipate a number of issues will arise over 
the electoral list.  However, we will not know the extent of 
the problems with the registration until the electoral list 
is opened for public scrutiny.  We expect numerous challenges 
from opposition groups.  Given the delays already experienced 
during the registration, it may be difficult for the 
Government to overcome challenges to the electoral lists and 
tremendous technical and logistical obstacles to holding the 
referendum as scheduled.  Nonetheless, the Government is 
determined to conduct the referendum prior to the rainy 
season and will work hard to minimize any additional delays. 
 
13. (U) Khartoum and Tripoli Minimize Considered. 
WALL 
 
 
NNNN 

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