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Viewing cable 05CAIRO7782, PDAS LIZ CHENEY'S SEPTEMBER 28 MEETING WITH GAMAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05CAIRO7782 2005-10-11 10:10 2010-12-13 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 007782 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/11/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM EG
SUBJECT: PDAS LIZ CHENEY'S SEPTEMBER 28 MEETING WITH GAMAL 
MUBARAK 

Classified by DCM Stuart Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

------- 
Summary 
------- 

1. (C) In a September 28 meeting with PDAS Elizabeth 
Cheney, Gamal Mubarak, head of the NDP Policies Committee, 
reviewed his father's presidential election campaign, which 
he argued had been a major success. He also reviewed the 
ruling party's preparations for the upcoming parliamentary 
elections. PDAS Cheney reminded Gamal of the paramount 
importance that the USG places on international monitoring 
and urged him to use his influence to encourage the GOE/NDP 
to undertake other concrete improvements in the electoral 
process. Significant improvements in the parliamentary 
elections, the PDAS noted, would be crucial to continuing 
Egypt's democratic reform progress. End summary. 

--------------------------------------------- ---- 
The NDP's Campaign Architect Reviews His Creation 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 

2. (C) PDAS Cheney, joined by DAS Carpenter, Charge, and 
poloff (notetaker) met with Gamal Mubarak on September 28 to 
discuss Egypt's political reform progress. Gamal opened the 
meeting with questions about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. 
PDAS Cheney updated Gamal on cleanup and recovery efforts and 
thanked him for GOE relief supplies. The Charge noted that 
Washington had been gratified by the speed of the GOE airlift 
to supply water, blankets, and other items. 

3. (C) Turning to the September 7 presidential election, 
Gamal noted that he and his NDP colleagues had been working 
on the campaign since the end of June, when President Mubarak 
had indicated that "he wanted a proper campaign team." Gamal 
said the team, which included Ahmad Ezz and Mohammad Kamal, 
used focus groups and polling to fine tune the President's 
message. After the campaign team devised a "credible 
program," which the NDP "simplified" to address focus group 
concerns, the party used the campaign period (August 
17-September 3) to reach out to voters. 

4. (C) Gamal noted that his father had directed the party 
to "run a positive campaign," and to respond only to attacks 
that misrepresented policy. Gamal attributed the NDP's 
success to a packed schedule of campaign events (nearly one 
major event per day) along with DVC outreach to provincial 
party leaders, and personal letters from the President to 
each of the party's 7000 "basic unit leaders" (i.e., precinct 
bosses). According to Gamal, the precinct bosses were 
"absolutely crucial" and the "backbone" of an effort to "fire 
up" youthful NDP voters. In response to a question by the 
PDAS, Gamal said that his father had much enjoyed the 
"intensity" of the campaign as well as his engagement with 
party activists. Gamal said that the final event of the 
campaign, the closing rally at Abdeen Palace in Cairo, had 
been a "big success," since it linked the President to key 
episodes in Egyptian historical memory. 

5. (C) The PDAS noted the USG's continuing encouragement of 
the GOE to invite international observers, and pressed Gamal 
to identify areas that he though could be improved in future 
elections. Gamal described Egypt's outdated and incoherent 
voter lists as "not a huge issue," but noted that cleaning 
them up would be a long-term project. He blamed the low 
turnout of the presidential election (about 7 million voters 
or 23 percent) on overzealous judges supervising the 
September 7 ballot who had, allegedly, refused to allow more 
than one voter at a time into polling stations, and thereby 
diminished turnout. "We were aiming for at least nine 
million voters, but many people went home without voting 
because of the queues," Gamal said. 

6. (C) Gamal termed the controversy over domestic observers 
on election day as "a huge mess," and noted that the party 
had tried to play a constructive role on this issue, behind 
the scenes, despite the obstructionism of the Presidential 
Election Commission and some of the judges. The PDAS 
reiterated the USG's views on international monitors and 
urged him to use his influence in support of both 
international and domestic monitors. 

------------------------------------- 
Plans for the Parliamentary Elections 
------------------------------------- 

7. (C) Turning to the parliamentary elections, which will 
be held in three stages beginning on November 8, Gamal said 
that a central difference with the presidential campaign 
would be that campaigning for the 444 parliamentary races 
"would be the party's effort, not the President's." The 
President plans to campaign on behalf of some candidates, 
however and the Party plans to use the same Heliopolis 
campaign headquarters and core team, although this team will 
be "adjusted for the battle." 

8. (C) The PDAS asked how the party plans to select its 
candidates. Gamal noted that the party's selection process 
hadn't worked in the past, since it permitted candidates with 
deep pockets to win the party endorsement even if they were 
not able to win at the polls. (Note: In the 2000 elections, 
official NDP candidates won less than 40 percent of the 
seats. Most winners were so-called "NDP independents" who 
had not managed to secure the party's endorsement but 
nevertheless prevailed at the poll and eventually rejoined 
the party, thereby giving the NDP its lock on Parliament. 
End note.) 

9. (C) Gamal provided an overview of the new process. He 
said that the party would hold "primaries" during the first 
week of October, which would assemble precinct bosses and 
other grass roots leaders to bet potential candidates. Gamal 
said that in addition to this popularity contest, the party 
would use polling, analysis of the voting in the presidential 
election, and a "software" analysis to create a single 
consolidated party slate of candidates. 

------------------------------------------- 
But How Will They Be Better than Last Time? 
------------------------------------------- 

10. (C) Gamal said that the parliamentary elections would 
be "both messier and easier" than the presidential election. 
The PDAS pressed Gamal to suggest steps that the GOE could 
take in the next few weeks to demonstrate its commitment to 
political reform. In response to the PDAS's inquiry about 
the GOE utilizing transparent ballot boxes in place of the 
existing wooden boxes, Gamal described them as "cosmetic." 
For Egypt, he said, the key is judicial supervision. Gamal 
also dismissed alleged problems with indelible ink, multiple 
voting, and voting by unregistered citizens. All of these 
allegations, he said, were "unfounded." 

11. (C) More important, he argued had been the information 
deficit. Voters had sometimes not known which polling 
stations to report to, and the lists of registered voters had 
not been widely available ahead of time. Improving the 
available information about the polling station locations and 
access was Gamal's highest priority. "If I was in charge," 
he said, "this is what I'd do." 

12. (C) The PDAS ask Gamal about the period after the 
parliamentary election. He replied that Egypt's unregistered 
voters were now excited about politics and enthusiastic to 
register to vote in future elections, when the registration 
period opens in late 2005. The PDAS asked if any opposition 
party would get the five percent of the parliamentary seats 
need to field a future presidential candidate. Gamal 
shrugged and replied that this would depend on the opposition 
parties' organization and discipline. Might the GOE revise 
Article 76 again, the PDAS asked, if an opposition party 
failed to get the required five percent? Gamal replied that 
talk of additional modification of Article 76 was premature: 
"the ink is not yet dry," he said. 

13. (C) He also argued that the special candidacy rules in 
2005, to encourage multiple presidential candidates, could 
not be extended in future elections. The somewhat less 
restrictive rules for 2005 had been necessary, he said, as an 
incentive to the parties to "get their acts together." In 
the long term, however, encouragement of fringe candidates 
who do not have significant parliamentary representation 
would be a recipe for "chaos." 

14. (C) The PDAS sought Gamal's views on rumors that the 
President plans to appoint a vice president. Gamal professed 
ignorance on the subject. Should the President appoint a VP, 
the PDAS asked. Gamal paused for a moment then said some 
people argue the President should name a Vice President, 
while others say that the new amendment to the Constitution 
makes a vice president unnecessary. Gamal said, "I listen to 
both arguments." 

-------------- 
A Man in Full? 
-------------- 

15. (C) At Gamal's invitation, the PDAS and DAS later 
attended the gala reception on September 29 hosted by the NDP 
for the diplomatic corps on the occasion of the party's 
annual conference. Members of the diplomatic corps, 
including the Iranian Ambassador, gathered around Gamal vying 
for his attention and the opportunity to shake his hand. 
Party old-guard figures Kemal al-Shazli and Safwat Sherif 
stood together off to the side while Gamal was clearly the 
center of the show. Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Maghrabi, 
told the PDAS that members of the new guard received loud and 
prolonged applause whenever they took the podium at the party 
congress. The reception for old guard figures, by contrast, 
was muted and polite. Judging from this, Maghrabi said, "I 
don,t think the old guard will be with us much longer." 

16. (U) PDAS Cheney cleared this message. 


RICCIARDONE