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Cablegate: Ncp Names a New Bureau of Statistics Chief Three Months In

VZCZCXRO2030
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0114/01 0270533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 270533Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9792
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000114

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO KDEM SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NCP NAMES A NEW BUREAU OF STATISTICS CHIEF THREE MONTHS IN
ADVANCE OF THE NATIONAL CENSUS

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 027

(B) 07 Khartoum 1971
(C) 07 Khartoum 1229

1.(U) SUMMARY: In a surprise move, on January 21 the NCP named a
new Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) director, Dr. Yassin Abdeen,
just three months before the national census is set to take place.
The switch has the UN confused and particularly concerned that the
appointment was made in an attempt to further delay and obstruct the
census from moving forward. Census materials have begun to arrive
in Khartoum, but the South still faces a lack of capacity and
manpower to prepare for and execute the census. END SUMMARY.

------------------------
A LAST MINUTE NCP SWITCH
------------------------
2. (SBU) On 23 January, poloff met with UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
technical advisor Herbert Kandeh to discuss the progress of the
national census, scheduled for 15-30 April 2008. Kandeh was quick
to divulge that the NCP had sacked the director of the Central
Bureau of Statisics (CBS), Profesor Awad Hag Ali Ahmed, and replaced
him with a new director, Dr. Yassin El-Hag Abdeen. Abdeen is the
former manager of Faisal Islamic Bank, the National Electricity
Corporation of Sudan, and Sudan Airways. He also worked at the
Center for Future Studies, a Sudanese government-supported think
tank in Khartoum (Note: CDA Fernandez spoke at the Center in
December. End note). Kandeh described Abdeen's appointment as a
"political move" and believes that the NCP feared Awad had become
"soft" on the opposition ahead of the census. In response to this,
the Presidency appointed Abdeen, who Kandeh described as extremely
partisan, "tough" and "difficult." Dr. Abdeen was appointed CBS
Director by presidential decree on 21 January.

3. (SBU) Kandeh expressed frustration at the appointment of a new
CBS Director just three months in advance of the census. He fears
that the new director, who is a physicist by trade and has no
background in statistics, could significantly hamper and stall the
census. According to Kandeh, Professor Awad will resume his Post as
Vice Chancellor at the University of Khartoum. He described Awad as
"stubborn and obstinate," but appreciated the fact that Awad took
action on issues quickly. Kandeh said that UNFPA is waiting to see
what impact Abdeen's appointment will have on the census.

----------------------
DONORS HOLD BACK FUNDS
----------------------
4. (SBU) Kandeh, expressed frustration with the European Union and
the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), both chief
international donors for the census, for holding back USD 6 million
in technical support. The donors have been disappointed with
UNFPA's lack of spot-reporting on the progress of the census. They
also demand that UNFPA present them with a detailed six-month work
plan for census activities. Kandeh said that a work plan will be
discussed with the donors later this week. When released, the USD 6
million in funding will support the production of census advocacy
materials, the training of census monitors, and will pay UNFPA
technical staff salaries.

------------------------------
MATERIALS ARRIVE IN KHARTOUM
-----------------------------
5. (SBU) Although census questionnaires are still being printed in
the UK, 1500 questionnaires have arrived in Khartoum. Kandeh said
that all remaining materials should arrive in Sudan within the next
week. Census materials (questionnaires, training materials, etc.)
are being air-shipped to Khartoum because of the strict timeline.
The need to air freight the materials has cost donors an extra USD
4.5 million. It has been decided by the NCP and the SPLM that
northern Sudan will receive 79 percent of the questionnaires and
southern Sudan will receive 21 percent. Kandeh said the 79/21
distribution has become so "petty" that the North is insisting that
all materials be split in those proportions, including the
distribution of pencils. According to Kandeh, the South protested
this for awhile, but backed down in the face of dealing with its own
obstacles, such as behind-schedule mapping.

----------------------
THE CENSUS AND DARFUR
----------------------
6. (SBU) UNFPA figures show that field mapping is 95 percent
complete in the South. Four unmapped counties remain in the Upper
Nile, Jonglei, and Warrap. Mapping in the North is 100 percent
complete with the exception of Darfur. Approximately 20 percent of
all three Darfur states are not yet mapped. Kandeh said the
unmapped areas (which include IDP camps) are inaccessible to
government statistical staff for security reasons. Kandeh admitted

KHARTOUM 00000114 002 OF 003


that very little census advocacy was being done, especially in
Darfur. He stated that tribal groups in Darfur will need to decide
whether or not they wish to participate in the census. If these
groups decide to participate, UNFPA, in coordination with these
groups, will need to develop a plan for how to execute the census in
the areas where government enumerators are not welcome. Kandeh also
raised important questions about how the government in Khartoum will
deal with unmapped areas in Darfur - will the NCP decide to allow
the census to take place with incomplete mapping? If so, what are
the implications of this decision for power-sharing?

7. (SBU) The Khartoum government has created a security team
specifically designed to address security issues related to the
census. According to Kandeh, this team is not worried about
security issues in Darfur; it claims there are "no problems" there.
Instead, the team is focused on potential problems in the South,
especially in Jonglei and Southern Kordofan. The group maintains
this posture even though the only major security incident that has
occurred was the hijacking of two census vehicles in South Darfur in
December.

----------------------
WHICH WAY WILL HE GO?
----------------------
8. (SBU) Two potentially troublesome issues that will fall in the
hands of new CBS Director Abdeen are the release of remaining
government census funds and the number of statistical centers in the
North. USD 18 million in census funding was written into the 2008
GNU budget. The funds are meant to be used for census advocacy,
warehousing of materials, and payment of enumerators. According to
Kandeh, former CBS Director Awad believed that a large chunk of this
funding was unnecessary and argued that funds only be used to pay
enumerators. UNFPA strongly believes that the funds should be used
as intended, especially in the area for advocacy. It will now be up
to new Director Abdeen to determine the use of these funds.

9. (SBU) Former director Awad also fought for the establishment of
six statistical centers in the North. UNFPA argues that the North
should only have one center (as the South will have) in order to
avoid confusion in the merging of data. Kandeh also pointed out that
more centers could lead to greater room for data manipulation. The
number of centers in the North will also be determined by new
Director Abdeen.

------------
MONITORING
------------
10. (SBU) The GNU has set up an NCP-led census monitoring and
observation committee (MOC) that will report all information
directly to the GNU. Individual monitoring groups will not be
allowed to release press reports or statements on their own
monitoring experiences. According to Kandeh, the EU is providing
funds for observers. UNFPA's proposal, which has yet to be approved
by the EU, allows for two monitors (one international, one local)
per state to observe the process for a period of two months.
According to Kandeh, the UN will also provide census monitors.

------------------------------
OBSTACLES IN THE SOUTH REMAIN
------------------------------
11. (U) Kandeh said that while the North has printed one-third of
its enumeration area (EA) maps, the South has not yet begun printing
its maps. Enumerators will need maps to conduct their work.
According to Kandeh, there continues to be a general lack of
capacity in the South, especially with regard to staffing. The
Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE)
is considering bringing in up to 30 trained demographers from
neighboring national census offices (principally Uganda and Kenya)
to assist in printing maps and training enumerators. A total of
40,000 enumerators will be hired to carry out the census in the
North. According to Kandeh, the CBS will second teachers to act as
enumerators. The South is planning for a total of 10,000
enumerators but it is uncertain how the SSCCSE will obtain this
staff. The first round of enumerator training is scheduled for late
February in Juba and Khartoum.

12. (U) Kandeh said that Sudanese in refugee camps outside of Sudan
will not be able to participate in the census unless they return to
Sudan by the evening that the census takes place. He said that the
UN-supported Radio Miraya, which has a large audience in the South,
is advocating that refugees return to Sudan for the census (ref A).

13. (SBU) COMMENT: The NCP's decision to replace the CBS chief just
three months before the census is not surprising, especially given
the NCP concern that the former director was not loyal. Former
director Awad was known to be difficult and somewhat obstructionist

KHARTOUM 00000114 003 OF 003


to the census process, but our initial information indicates that
newly-appointed director Abdeen may be even harder to work with.
However, the most challenging obstacle to a successful census in
April remains the lack of capacity and preparation in the South. END
COMMENT.

FERNANDEZ

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