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Cablegate: Sudanese Legislative Process On Elections Shows Hope

VZCZCXRO9820
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0099/01 0240915
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240915Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9769
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000099

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: SUDANESE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS ON ELECTIONS SHOWS HOPE

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 025
(B) 07 KHARTOUM 2011

1. (U) SUMMARY: Co-chairs of the National Constitutional Review
Commission (NCRC) Abel Alier and Abdulla Idris confirmed that the
National Assembly will hold a special session before April to review
and ratify the electoral law. Alier and Idris explained that the
draft law calls for free and unimpeded access for domestic and
international election observers. Finally, they stressed that the
Presidency must select "mature" and "nonpartisan" candidates to
serve on the National Electoral Commission (NEC). END SUMMARY.

---------------------------------------
SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSION TO OCCUR
---------------------------------------
2. (U) On 22 January, poloffs met with NCRC co-chairs Abel Alier and
Abdulla Idris. Both chairmen are well-respected and
well-accomplished lawyers and politicians who have played
significant roles in the legal and legislative history of Sudan.
Alier, a member of the Dinka tribe and a Union of Sudan African
Parties (USAP) member, is a former minister of Labor and Public
Works and also served as Vice President of the Republic of Sudan
from 1971 to 1980. Idris, an NCP member, studied business law at
Yale and is a legal expert and law professor at the University of
Khartoum.

3. (U) According to Alier and Idris, Parliament will hold an
extraordinary session before April in order to review and ratify the
national electoral law. Idris explained that 24 January will be the
last day of political consultation between the NCRC and the parties
on the draft bill. After this date, the bill will be re-submitted
for last-minute tweaking to the NCRC subcommittee that created it.
The bill will then move to the NCRC plenary for approval and
passage. Upon leaving the NCRC, the bill will be presented to the
Council of Ministers and finally, the National Assembly. Idris
stated that the Council of Ministers will not interfere with the
bill, but may make recommendations. He expects the bill to be
ratified quickly in the National Assembly because of the
considerable amount of party consultation that has gone into
creating the draft law.

---------------------------
"FREE ACCESS" FOR OBSERVERS
----------------------------
4. (U) Both NCRC co-chairs confirmed that the draft law calls for
"free access" for local and international election observers. Idris
stated that the Carter Center has accepted the GNU's invitation to
participate in electoral observation and hopes that the Center will
provide civic education training to communities well in advance of
the 2009 elections.

-----------------------------------
ENCOURAGING VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION
-----------------------------------
5. (U) Idris and Alier explained that efforts at voluntary
repatriation in southern Sudan are being intensified so as to
persuade southern IDPs in the North and refugees to return to
southern Sudan and take part in the elections. The draft law states
that if a citizen returns to participate in the electoral process,
he/she must be in-country for at least three months before the
elections to be able to vote. Alier said that the Sudanese
Institute for Repatriation is prepared to deal with an increase in
repatriation requests.

--------------------------
A MATURE, NONPARTISAN NEC
--------------------------
6. (SBU) Poloff questioned the co-chairs about the feasibility of
carrying out elections in Darfur given the region's security
concerns and strong anti-government sentiment. Idris stated that
the National Electoral Commission (NEC), when created, will have to
decide where and when elections will take place, including whether
holding elections in Darfur will be possible. Both Alier and Idris
hoped that current peacemaking efforts in the Darfur region would
facilitate the inclusion of Dafurians in the electoral process.
Alier and Idris stated that the Presidency is allowing parties to
informally submit and consult with his office on NEC candidates.
Alier stated that the draft law requires candidates to be age 35 or
older. He cautioned that those selected must be nonpartisan,
mature, and value their own personal integrity. It is the opinion
of both co-chairs that several parties will be represented on the
nine-person Commission.

--------------
THE FINAL STEP
--------------
7. (U) According to Idris, the one outstanding issue in the draft

KHARTOUM 00000099 002 OF 002


electoral law is the breakdown of percentages for the mixed
electoral system. The SPLM and other opposition parties are
lobbying for a 50/50 system, whereby 50 percent of the candidates
for the national and state legislatures are elected via proportional
representation (to include the 25 percent of women to be elected)
and 50 percent are elected in a first-past-the-post system. The NCP
is fighting for a 60/40 system, whereby 40 percent of the candidates
for the national and state legislatures are elected via proportional
representation (to include the 25 percent of women to be elected)
and 60 percent are elected via first-past-the-post. Regardless of
the percentage outcome, Alier pointed out that this will be the
first time in the history of Sudan that voting by proportional
representation will occur. Idris remarked that the ultimate goal
would be for Sudan to move to a fully proportional representation
voting system for legislatures in elections beyond 2009.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Idris and Alier's insights on the draft bill
inspire some hope in the legislative foundation for the 2009
elections. Although the drafting of the law has been significantly
delayed, if party consensus on the law is achieved at an early
stage, it will create a solid basis for party competition on the six
levels of governance being contested. The draft bill's stipulation
that international and domestic observers be granted free access to
the electoral process builds on the CPA text itself - which states
that international observers shall participate in the observation of
elections. Furthermore, if parties may consult the Office of the
Presidency on NEC candidates and party nominee considerations are
heeded, the electoral process is likely to proceed more smoothly.

9. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Despite these positive signs, there is
still concern among Sudanese politicians, especially the SPLM, that
the tight timeline in which the NEC will have to plan and execute
the elections will affect the quality and fairness of the process.
The international community shares these concerns. Furthermore, a
solid legislative basis for elections does not guarantee that party
shenanigans to further delay electoral preparation will not occur,
as it appears to be in the interests of both parties to delay (while
seeking tactical advantage) for as long as possible.

FERNANDEZ

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