Viewing cable 04MUSCAT2222
Title: OMAN: IFES ELECTIONS ASSESSMENT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04MUSCAT22222004-12-21 05:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 002222 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PI, NEA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KMPI KDEM SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN: IFES ELECTIONS ASSESSMENT 
 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY:  Under the sponsorship of the Middle East 
Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the International Foundation 
for Electoral Systems (IFES) recently concluded an assessment 
visit to the Sultanate.  The team identified several key 
areas for potential electoral assistance, including a need 
for increased public awareness of both the electoral process 
and the role of the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Council.) 
END SUMMARY. 
 
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Meetings with Election Commission, Parliamentarians 
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¶2. (U) On December 14, a MEPI-sponsored IFES team arrived in 
Oman to conduct a technical assessment of the electoral 
process in the Sultanate.  Through a week-long series of 
governmental, legal, and private-sector meetings, Dr. Paul 
Harris, Ms. Aileen Hanel and Dr. John Duke Anthony elicited 
the opinions of election organizers and participants while 
tentatively identifying potential areas for strengthening. 
The team met with senior members of the government's election 
commission, with elected Majlis al-Shura (Consultative 
Council) and appointed Majlis al-Dawla (State Council) 
deputies, as well as academicians, legal consultants, and 
journalists. 
 
¶3. (SBU) As part of their country assessment, the team 
provided a debrief to the Embassy MEPI team prior to 
departure.  While preliminary, the IFES team identified 
several areas where technical assistance could help to 
strengthen the electoral process in Oman. 
 
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Public Education 
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¶4. (SBU) The IFES team members concluded that educating the 
public on the election process and the role of the 
Consultative Council should be a strategic component in 
election preparations for 2007.  (Note: One Majlis deputy 
told the delegation that Oman might seek to institute 
municipal elections before the next Shura elections in 2007. 
End note.)  The team suggested developing a civic education 
curriculum with the Education Ministry as well as promoting 
greater youth interaction, including children's visits to the 
Majlis al-Shura and having Majlis members speak at schools in 
their districts.  IFES noted, however, that the Education 
Ministry resisted playing a role in the 2003 elections. 
 
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Voter and Candidate Apathy 
-------------------------- 
 
¶5. (SBU) The public's widespread apathy towards the Majlis 
al-Shura and the elections pose considerable challenges to 
both candidates and the electoral process.  The assessment 
team found that citizens are generally unaware of who the 
candidates are, what the Majlis does, and why voting would be 
important.  Moreover, several interlocutors commented that 
some elected candidates lack basic qualifications, including 
a completed secondary-level education.  The IFES team also 
found that as a result of the low pay and lack of job 
security, potential qualified candidates were disinclined to 
run for office. 
 
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"Campaign" Strengthening 
------------------------ 
 
¶6. (SBU) IFES identified strict limitations on campaign 
activity as being one of most substantial obstacles in the 
electoral process in Oman.  It contributes immensely to the 
public's lack of awareness, the election of unqualified 
candidates, and general voter apathy. 
 
¶7. (U) The IFES team concluded that they had a productive 
week with enriching meetings.  They were pleased with the 
responsiveness of the Omani government to their questions, 
and with the candor of other interlocutors.  The team said 
that they intend to provide a summary of their assessment to 
the Embassy and the MEPI team by the end of March 2005. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶8. (SBU) This visit constituted IFES' second attempt at 
seeking to build a dialogue with the Omani government on 
election issues, and appears to have made a more favorable 
first impression than 2003's effort.  While it is premature 
to judge the feasibility of actual technical assistance 
programs, complicated by the disbandment of Oman's electoral 
commission, a patient and measured approach should make a 
substantial contribution to overcoming the government's 
skepticism about foreign involvement in this sensitive area. 
BALTIMORE