Cablegate: Elections Timeline Urgent; Donor Group to Express Concern

DE RUEHKH #1834/01 3290517
P 250517Z NOV 07






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Elections donor group Ambassadors met November 22
in Khartoum to discuss strategies to keep the elections timetable
outlined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on track. All
agreed there is an increasingly narrow window and the NCP and SPLM
must resolve their differences and pass an elections law by late
December in order for a census to proceed in March 2008. Otherwise
the census will not be possible before the 2008 rainy season,
possibly delaying the 2009 elections, which must occur between
November 2008 and March 2009 to avoid pushing the elections
themselves into the 2009 rainy season, which could disadvantage the
South. Donor group Ambassadors agreed to meet jointly with SRSG
Qazi as soon as possible to ensure UNMIS is prepared for its role in
the elections; to press for greater public emphasis on the urgent
timeline for census and elections in public statement; and to press
the NCP and SPLM to resolve their differences and stay the course on
elections. Post recommends U.S. official also express publicly the
need for a timely census and elections, drawing attention to the
urgent timeline. End summary.

2. (SBU) The European Commission (EC) chaired a meeting of Elections
Donor Group (EDG) Ambassadors November 22 in Khartoum to review
preparations for the upcoming census and elections and to agree on
the agenda for a meeting with SRSG Qazi. EC elections officer Lars
Tummers described the critically short timeline to ensure that the
census occurs before the 2008 rainy season. Lars reviewed the
current state of play:

--The Sudanese parliament has not passed the elections law; it is 20
months late per the timeline laid out in the CPA.

--Therefore there is no elections commission in place with which to
coordinate and which is needed to guide the programs of the UN and
other donors.

--The next rainy season will begin in April 2008, which will
seriously complicate the census in the South.

--If the census does not occur by March, the elections scheduled for
the following year may be delayed due to lack of required
information from the census on proportionally-allocated seats for
the parliamentary elections.

--The Sudanese Parliament is in session until the end of December
and will not reconvene until April, after the rains have started.

--The current political impasse between the NCP and SPLM has blocked
all progress on the draft elections law, which is now before the
review commission, but there also remains a disagreement between the
parties about percentages of direct vs. proportional seats in the
future parliament.

--For the census and elections to stay on track, the NCP and SPLM
must therefore resolve their differences and pass an elections law
before the end of December.

3. (SBU) UN Chief Elections Officer Ray Kennedy said that the
elections schedule in 2009 could be compressed, so that even if the
parties do not resolve their current differences in time to pass an
elections law allowing the census to move forward, it is
theoretically possible to stay on schedule. However he said that
with a compressed schedule the chances of a well organized,
transparent, free and fair election would be reduced. Kennedy also
noted that an election is possible without a census, though it is
required by the CPA and is needed to sort out proportionally
allocate seats in the parliament. Kennedy assured donors that his
office will move forward with planning for the elections despite the
fact that the implementing legislation is not in place. The UN
Elections Office (within UNMIS) will prepare its programming and
procurement plan and will begin staffing up in anticipation that an
on-time election will still be possible. The UN will also continue
to remind the parties of urgency of CPA implementation and timely
elections. (Note: Kennedy is a U.S. citizen who most recently
helped manage the elections in Afghanistan.)

4. (SBU) Ambassadors expressed the urgency of the international
community not making any public statements about the difficulty of
organizing a timely census and election, given the current state of
play between the GNU partners. Rather, the international community
must press for rapid resolution of the crisis and put a greater
spotlight on the urgency of the census and elections timeline. The
Ambassadors agreed to meet jointly with SRSG Qazi as soon as
possible to review UN preparations and urge that the electoral
process be given a higher profile in UN statements and messages to
the parties. Ambassadors also agreed to deliver this same message
to the parties, in their own bilateral contacts with the NCP and
SLPM. The meeting with SRSG Qazi will include the U.S., UK,
Norwegian, Dutch, and Italian Ambassadors. (Note: There was some

KHARTOUM 00001834 002 OF 002

discussion among EC Ambassadors about which ones would be included,
whether the Naivasha representatives which included Italy, or the
IGAD representatives which included France.)

5. (SBU) Comment: Sending the right messages to the UN and the
parties (NCP and SPLM) is critical, to press for an on-time census
and elections. If elections are delayed, the legitimacy of the GNU
and the credibility of the parties will be brought into question,
and tensions will mount further between the parties. Of course the
reality is that the current political impasse between the NCP and
the SPLM has stopped all progress on implementing legislation for
the census and the elections. It is also true that the two parties
have often expressed less enthusiasm for elections than the
international community. However the international community must
continue to press the parties toward timely elections, and not allow
Abyei to block CPA progress, nor allow Darfur to distract from the
even more critical implementation of the CPA - in which the 2009
elections play the central role. Though the UN and the U.S.
Administration have urged "CPA implementation" publicly, a greater
focus in our public statements on the increasingly urgent timeline
for census and elections is required. End comment.

6. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.


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