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Cablegate: Splm - "We Will Never Coalesce with the Ncp"

VZCZCXRO6046
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0072/01 0181159
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181159Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9727
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000072

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: SPLM - "WE WILL NEVER COALESCE WITH THE NCP"

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 063

(B) KHARTOUM 025
(C) 07 KHARTOUM 2011

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: There are still several issues being negotiated
regarding the electoral law at the level of the National
Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC): how women will be elected,
the make-up of the mixed electoral system, and how to manage the
registration and voting process for Sudanese IDPs and Sudanese
citizens living in the diaspora. An SPLM source claims that her
party will "never" coalesce with the NCP before the elections and
warns that if the NCP feels "weak" over the next eight to ten
months, the elections are unlikely to be executed in a free and fair
manner. END SUMMARY.

------------------------
MORE FEMALE POLITICIANS
------------------------
2. (SBU) In a 17 January meeting with SPLM member and National
Assembly Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee Dr. Barsila
Joseph, Joseph said that women currently occupy less than 20 percent
of seats in the GNU National Assembly. The draft election law
provides for an increase in female representation at all levels of
the government (national, state, and in the GoSS) to at least 25
percent. Joseph said this new development would "clear the space"
for women to participate more actively in the Sudanese political
process and provide them with political experience and confidence.
It will also enable women to "work across party lines", said Joseph.


3. (SBU) Although there is agreement among the parties that 25
percent of seats at all levels of government will be held by women,
there is still a debate over the way in which these women will be
elected. According to Joseph, the SPLM would like for women to be
elected via a proportional voting system. The NCP, however, is
fighting for female election by direct representation. Joseph
stressed that electing women via proportional representation is
important because it may allow women, at some levels, to have
representation that is greater than 25 percent. Women, she
explained, have not previously had a chance to prove themselves in
politics and "deliver" to Sudanese communities. Moreover, tradition
and culture have severely limited the leadership role of women in
political and social structures. If women are elected via direct
representation, it will be very difficult for women to achieve
representation above 25 percent.

4. (SBU) Historically, Joseph said, women have participated and
voted in elections in Sudan. The problem, claimed Joseph, was that
many women are "directed" to vote for specific candidates by parties
and/or family members. Joseph admitted that more voter education
intended for women must be carried out by civil society groups in
order to make women aware of why they are voting and the
significance of their vote. She lamented that there has never been
a comprehensive voter education program for women in Sudan.

-----------------------------------------
ELECTION TIMELINE AND POTENTIAL OBSTACLES
-----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) At the closing of the National Assembly's extended session
on 16 January, Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir urged that the
electoral law must pass through the Council of Ministers and
National Assembly before April. When asked whether the National
Assembly would call a special session before April to review and
ratify the electoral law, Joseph said that "it depends on how the
parties behave." The draft bill, now stuck in the NCRC, cannot move
forward to the Council of Ministers or the National Assembly until
parties agree on several details. [NOTE: Dr. Joseph is a member of
the 60-person NCRC. END NOTE.]

6. (SBU) According to Joseph, the most critical issues that must be
dealt with before the election are the census and voter
registration. She stressed the importance of the census, saying
that it will not only determine constituencies but also the strength
(in terms of population) and representation numbers of such
constituencies. Joseph suggested that in order for the GNU to meet
the CPA-mandated election timeline of July 2009, more people must
immediately get involved in the process and begin activities such as
voter education and awareness before the electoral law is passed.

7. (SBU) The CPA parties, in the NCRC, are still debating how
Sudanese citizens in the diaspora and refugees will vote in the 2009
elections. Southern Sudanese officials are encouraging southern
Sudanese refugees to move back to their homes before the national
census is scheduled to take place in late April. Joseph said that
Sudanese citizens living outside the country at the time of
elections could vote in Sudanese embassies, but there is concern
over how to control this process and its susceptibility to

KHARTOUM 00000072 002 OF 002


vote-rigging. The electoral law currently states that a citizen
must vote where he/she resides, which renders southern Sudanese who
live outside of southern Sudan powerless to vote in the upcoming
GoSS elections. This issue, however, is being debated in the NCRC.

8. (U) Joseph, along with the Women's Center for Human Rights and
UNMIS, hosted a session on Sudanese electoral history and electoral
law for parliamentarians this week in the National Assembly. Joseph
said that the training was meant to mobilize and educate assembly
members from various committees on election legislation before the
draft electoral law is brought to the Assembly. Joseph believes
that such training will not only enrich the debate over the
electoral law but will spawn its quick ratification by familiarizing
assembly members with electoral issues. Approximately 40
parliamentarians attended.

---------------------------------------
THE NEC AND POTENTIAL PARTY COALITIONS
---------------------------------------
9. (SBU) With respect to the formation of an independent NEC, Joseph
said that the Presidency must choose candidates who have the ability
to set their own political opinions aside for the sake of
constructive debate and dialogue. She mentioned that the two
current co-chairs of the NCRC, Abdulla Idris and Abel Alier, are
well-respected and would make good NEC candidates. She warned that
if the parties do not respect those who Al-Bashir chooses as members
of the nine-person NEC team, the elections process will not go
smoothly.

10. (SBU) Joseph vehemently denied rumors that the SPLM would
coalesce with the NCP in advance of elections. "It will never
happen", she insisted. Instead, she said, the SPLM is likely to
coalesce with smaller groups that are "more like itself" such as
groups from the Eastern Front or, if created, a Darfurian party. On
the issue of free and fair elections, Joseph said that if the NCP
feels weak over the next eight to ten months, elections are unlikely
to be free and fair.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: Although the Sudanese should be applauded for
their efforts to empower female politicians by allocating them
greater representation in the GNU and GoSS at all levels, the more
immediate concern is the continued hold-up of the electoral law.
NCP and SPLM sources have indicated that the chances of the
President calling a special parliamentary session to review and
approve the law before April are good. Still, the work that must be
done in preparing and executing the elections after the law is
passed and before 9 July 2009 is daunting. Although the NCRC claims
the parties have reached common ground on all fronts except for the
percentages of the mixed system, it is clear that other issues
remain, such as the registration and voting of IDPs and the
diaspora.

FERNANDEZ

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