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Cablegate: Splm Insider Samson Kwaje On Census, Cabinet Reshuffle,

VZCZCXRO6569
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0027/01 0080642
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080642Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9671
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000027

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 SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM INSIDER SAMSON KWAJE ON CENSUS, CABINET RESHUFFLE,
ABYEI, AND LRA

1. (SBU) Summary: Consul General and visiting polchief met with
Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Agriculture Minister Samson
Kwaje January 7. Kwaje is considered a close advisor of GoSS
President and GNU First Vice President Salva Kiir (background and
bio notes are included at the end of this cable). Kwaje accused the
National Congress Party (NCP) of blocking the census but
acknowledged that a delay is in the interests of the SPLM so that
more refugees and IDPs can return to southern Sudan. Kwaje said
that Kiir will discuss Abyei with GNU Second Vice President Taha
today in an effort to resolve the current fighting there. Kwaje,
who is deputy SPLM mediator for the Lord's Resistance Army Peace
Talks, said that SPLM representatives had recently been to LRA
leader Joseph Kony's camp in Congo (a six-hour walk from the border)
and confirmed that Kony intends to continue the peace process. The
LRA told the SPLM that although Vincent Otti is dead, Kony did not
kill him. End summary.

Census
------

2. (SBU) Newly-arrived Consul General Chris Datta and visiting
Khartoum polchief met with newly-appointed GoSS Agriculture Minister
January 7. Although given ample opportunity to address agricultural
issues, Kwaje appeared somewhat bored by the topic and preferred to
talk about politics. Kwaje repeated familiar accusations that the
NCP is blocking implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) and well-worn claims that the NCP has tried to convince the
SPLM to make a deal to delay elections indefinitely. However, Kwaje
also acknowledged that conducting the census in April 2008 is not in
the interests of the SPLM. He said there are over 100,000 southern
Sudanese refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia who may return to southern
Sudan this year, as well as many IDPs in the north who may return.
Kwaje claimed the NCP is bribing southern IDPs in the north with
offers of land, while simultaneously blocking census questions about
religion and ethnicity, in order to swell northern census data
relative to the south. Nonetheless, Kwaje said the census could
occur in April and that the population data could be corrected later
during the voter registration process. CG Datta and polchief urged
Kwaje to ensure that the SPLM takes the moral high ground and does
everything in its power to ensure a timely census, to demonstrate
that it is doing everything possible to implement the CPA.

Cabinet Reshuffle and Abyei
---------------------------

3. (SBU) Kwaje viewed the recent cabinet reshuffle positively and
observed that the SPLM now has "loyal SPLM members" in Khartoum to
negotiate with the NCP. Kwaje echoed comments of other SPLM members
in Juba that Pagan Amum's appointment as Minister of Cabinet is
critical in order to bring forceful SPLM leadership to Khartoum.
Kwaje said that GNU First Vice President Kiir, in addition to
meeting January 7 with President Bashir in Khartoum, would also meet
with Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha to discuss possible
solutions to the Abyei crisis. He said that they would mainly
discuss ways to resolve the current fighting between Misseriya Arab
and SPLA forces, but would also address the border issue. Kwaje
accused the NCP of using the annual migration of Misseriya Arab
herdsmen to stoke conflict and destabilize the area, and to push
Dinka populations further south of the Abyei border in a blatant
land grab.

Lord's Resistance Army
----------------------

4. (SBU) Kwaje was most animated when discussing recent information
regarding the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Kwaje is the SPLM's
deputy mediator for the LRA peace talks. He said SPLM
representatives had traveled to LRA leader Joseph Kony's camp in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Christmas day 2007. He
said they walked six hours through the jungle to reach the camp, and
they found it to be heavily fortified with a series of well-guarded
access gates. Kwaje estimated that Kony still has at least 1000
fighters, though he did not say they were all in this one particular
camp. (Comment: This figure seems high for one camp to support
itself. His next remark was that Ugandan President Museveni should
not think he can win militarily, so the figure seemed linked to
supporting this conclusion. However, Kwaje claimed the LRA
"guerillas" have turned away from pillaging and have taken up
farming, claiming to have seen large areas under cultivation within
the LRA camp, making it now self sufficient. As proof of this, he
claimed that the local population no longer lived in fear of attacks
by the group. He also implied that if the LRA is attacked and
driven out of this camp, they will have no choice but to resume
their predatory former ways. This all seems highly doubtful to us,
but Kwaje claims first-hand knowledge. End comment.)


KHARTOUM 00000027 002 OF 003


5. (SBU) Kwaje reported that the LRA told his envoys that Vincent
Otti is dead, but that Kony did not kill him. Two LRA reps claimed
that they had been detained along with Otti, and that Otti had been
killed when a scuffle broke out in the camp. Kwaje said there was
no evidence that the LRA fighters had been attacking civilians or
looting food, and said there had been no reports of LRA attacks on
civilians in Sudan. Regarding the next round of talks, Kwaje said
that LRA negotiators will travel to Juba within two weeks. Kwaje
said the LRA reps had told the SPLM envoys that Kony still supports
the peace process.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Kwaje seems to be well-placed politically in the SPLM. His
ministry is housed in a new facility, was crowded with staff and
visitors when we visited, and Kwaje's own office is the most opulent
we have seen in Juba. At a dinner hosted by President Kiir and his
top ministers for U.S. Congressman Payne January 7, Kwaje seemed to
be one of the top movers along with Minister of the Presidency Luka
Biong Deng and newly-appointed Governor of Jonglei State Kwol
Manyang.

Background and Bio Notes
------------------------

7. (SBU) Agriculture Minister Samson Kwaje was shifted to this
position during the October 2007 Government of Southern Sudan
cabinet reshuffle (timed with the GNU reshuffle of SPLM Ministers),
the second reshuffle since the establishment of the Government of
Southern Sudan. In contrast to the July 2007 reshuffle, which
expanded the cabinet and GoSS executive service in order to
stabilize nascent tribal rifts in the South (it largely succeeded,
bringing in former SSDF commander Ismael Konye and appointed the
first-ever Minister of SPLA Affairs Oyai Deng), the October
reshuffle is regarded by most as a move by President Kiir to put the
right people in the right jobs. The GoSS appears to be evolving
beyond "crisis management" into more active governance. GoSS
ministers previously awarded positions chiefly aimed at keeping
Kiir's inner circle of advisors together, were re-positioned to take
up portfolios directly relevant to their personal areas of
expertise. Kawje (who has a PhD in Agriculture) was previously
Minster of Information.

8. (SBU) Kwaje was a core member of the SPLM/A negotiating team in
Naivasha, remains an influential member of the SPLM, and a vocal
participant in the party's Interim National Committee and Interim
Political Bureau meetings. His access to GoSS President Kiir is
significant, and stems from previously-held administrative,
political and diplomatic positions in the SPLM/SPLA during the civil
war. He is a "Garangist," but this has not tempered his
relationship with Kiir. Kwaje believes Kiir can be persuaded to run
for the national presidency in 2009 if pushed by the USG.
USG-funded polling suggests that only a Muslim member of the SPLM
can win at the national level, but Kwaje disputes this.

9. (SBU) Kwaje is Deputy Mediator for the LRA Peace Talks (the Chief
Mediator is GoSS Vice President Riek Machar) and was a member of the
joint SPLM/NCP executive committee talks that improved the pace of
CPA implementation in early 2007 before the disastrous May 2007
meeting that led to Kiir's refusal to travel to Khartoum until
August. Kwaje was also part of the SPLM delegation at the September
2007 AU Peace and Security Commission meeting focused on the CPA.
Despite GoSS Minister of the Presidency Luka Biong Deng's leanings
toward secession, Kwaje and Deng have an excellent relationship and
appear to be among the inner circle that the SPLM party turns to in
Juba to encourage Kiir when his enthusiasm for the struggle with the
NCP in Khartoum wanes. Kwaje has also been credited by Pagan Amum
and current (SPLM) GNU Foreign Minister Deng Alor with expanding
Kiir's tendency for a parochial view of the South toward a more
strategic and comprehensive view of the entire country.

10. (SBU) Kwaje was appointed Minister of Information, Radio and
Television in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) in October
2005. Prior to the signing of the CPA, Kwaje held several
influential positions in the SPLA/M including Spokesman. Before
joining SPLM/A, Kwaje served as Minister of Finance in the Equatoria
regional government in the mid-1980s. Kwaje obtained a Bachelor's
degree in agriculture from Makerere University in the early 1960s
and a Master's and PhD in plant protection in the United States in
the 1970s. Prior to joining the SPLM/A, Dr. Kwaje was a member of
the People's Progressive Party (PPP) that sought the re-division of
the South into the three regions of Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and
Upper Nile. Kwaje comes from the Pojulu tribe, one of the
Bari-speaking ethnic groups of Central Equatoria. He was born in
Lainya o/a 1950. He speaks English, Arabic and Bari.

KHARTOUM 00000027 003 OF 003

FERNANDEZ

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