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Cablegate: Presidency to Name Administrators for Abyei

VZCZCXRO4513
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0063/01 0170612
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170612Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9714
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000063

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: PRESIDENCY TO NAME ADMINISTRATORS FOR ABYEI

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 047
(B) KHARTOUM 025
(C) KHARTOM 026

1. (SBU) Summary: The Presidency may name an interim administration
for Abyei soon despite the fact that borders have yet to be defined,
according to NCP negotiator Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed. Dirdeiry
boasted that the SPLM-NCP relationship has "never been better"
following the SPLM's rejoining of the GNU, but expressed concerns
about elections in Sudan given current events in Kenya. End summary.


------------------------
BRINGING ORDER TO ABYEI
------------------------
2. (SBU) Parliamentarian and influential NCP member Dirdeiry Mohamed
Ahmed informed poloffs on 15 January that the Presidency would soon
name a chief and deputy administrator to lead Abyei's "interim
administration." Although in the past the SPLM demanded that the NCP
accept the results of the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) report
before an administration was named, Dirdeiry said that the SPLM
seems to have withdrawn this demand and now accepts the creation of
an interim administration without resolution of the border dispute.
In regard to the SPLM's 31 December appointment of Edward Lino as
the "SPLM Chairman in Abyei area" (Ref A), Dirdeiry said that Lino
will first serve as merely the SPLM party representative, but later
will serve as chief of the interim administration that is called for
in the CPA, once authorized by the Presidency. Press reports
indicate that the Umma Party has also named a representative to
Abyei - Mohamed El Dorick Bakht. Dirdeiry, unaware of this
appointment, surmised this was because Umma party leader, Sadiq
al-Mahdi, has taken a keen personal interest in being involved in
resolving the Abyei dispute. [Note: As part of the overall NCP/SPLM
deal that ended the SPLM's walkout from participation in the GNU,
the partners agreed that an SPLM member would serve as chief
administrator and an NCP member as deputy.)

-----------------------------------
ELECTIONS - AVOIDING ANOTHER KENYA
-----------------------------------
3. (SBU) Dirdeiry, who served as DCM in Sudan's Embassy in Nairobi,
expressed hope that the Sudanese electoral process would be fair and
transparent so that Sudan can avoid a crisis similar to Kenya's. He
observed that Sudan had the potential to split violently along
ethnic lines, as is currently happening in Kenya. He lamented that
the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) (of which he is
a member) has not been fully transparent in drafting the electoral
law, and hoped that the Council of Ministers and the National
Assembly would be more transparent in their handling of the law. If
the NCRC cannot manage to produce a draft law to the Council of
Ministers within the next few days, Dirdeiry said that the law would
likely not be ratified until April 2008 when the National Assembly
is back in session. That said, he suggested that it is not out of
the question for the Presidency to ask the National Assembly to hold
a special session in order to review and ratify the electoral law.
Once the draft law reaches the Council of Ministers and the
Parliament, Dirdeiry stated that it should only take 2 to 3 weeks
for the bill to be approved. (Note: NCRC Co-Chair Abdulla Idris told
poloff January 14 that Parliament will likely call a special session
to pass the bill. End note.)

4. (SBU) Dirdeiry described the current elections timeline as
putting Sudan "between a rock and a hard place." If the elections
law is not passed until April 2008 and the electoral commission not
named until May 2008, the commission will only have 9 or 10 months
to prepare and execute elections ahead of the 2009 rainy season and
the CPA-mandated elections date (Ref B). Dirdeiry said that donor
assistance (especially technical) would definitely be welcomed for
electoral preparation, but did not know how open the GNU would be to
international election observers. He warned that the elections
could prove to be a problem if they are not taken seriously by the
Sudanese. If not handled carefully, elections could create ethnic
tension and polarization and lead to violence, said Dirdeiry.
Dirdeiry believes that the elections will be hotly contested at the
presidential and gubernatorial levels and said that Umma party
leader Sadiq al-Mahdi will likely run for President.

--------------------------------------------- --
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - A PROMISING WAY FORWARD
--------------------------------------------- --
5. (SBU) Dirdeiry, who is among the NCP members named to the joint
NCP/SPLM Executive Committee (EC) that emerged from the recent
political crisis, confirmed that the group will have its first
meeting January 24. Asked if the EC would meet regularly, he
replied that, as a permanent body, it will have to draft rules of
procedure, which will specify how often the EC will meet. Dirdeiry
predicted the EC would focus principally on elections, borders, and

KHARTOUM 00000063 002 OF 002


programs to foster unity and reconciliation. (Note: Press reports
January 16 indicated that the Executive Committee will be expanded
to become a "Political and Executive Committee" (PEC) with 18
members, nine from each side. Taha and Machar remain co-chairmen
and we expect the other members to remain as well, with several
additions. End note.)

------------------------------------
SPLM-NCP RELATIONSHIP "NEVER BETTER"
------------------------------------
6. (SBU) Dirdeiry described the SPLM-NCP relationship as having
"never been better" following the SPLM's December 2007 decision to
rejoin the GNU. Dirdeiry explained that Pagan Amum, Secretary
General of the SPLM and recently-appointed GNU Minister for Cabinet
Affairs, was in the past "demonized" by the NCP, but has now been
tapped by the NCP to resolve critical disputes such as the
SPLA-Misseryia clashes in South Kordofan. Dirdeiry claimed that a
visit by Amum and GNU Minister of Defense Hussein to Aweil had
helped calm the situation there. Dirdeiry reported that the
three-year CPA anniversary celebrations in Wau on January 14,
attended by First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Vice
President Ali Osman Taha, went extremely well. Dirdeiry noted that
national flags were prominently displayed at the event, which was
held in Southern Sudan.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The SPLM-NCP relationship appears to be on the
mend for now (at least in public) and the formation of the Executive
Committee and the attendance of the vice presidents at CPA
celebrations in Wau are both positive signs. Although the Presidency
has not yet tackled the thorny Abyei issue, the appointment of a
joint interim administration is an important step in fulfilling CPA
requirements - though to name an administration before accepting the
ABC report is a deviation from the CPA text. The Executive
Committee will have its work cut out for it, as border demarcation
and election issues will likely require intensive negotiations.

FERNANDEZ

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