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Cablegate: Ncp May Seek to Defer 2009 National Elections

VZCZCXRO7050
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0154/01 0320959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010959Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9853
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000154

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 MAY SEEK TO DEFER 2009 NATIONAL ELECTIONS

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 118

(B) KHARTOUM 094

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: NCP-aligned politician Dr. Mudawi El-Turabi
indicated that the Khartoum regime may seek national consensus to
defer the 2009 elections and hold them at a later date. The NCP's
argument would be that Darfur, the South and The Three Areas are too
unstable for elections to take place. He also announced the GNU
Political Parties Council which is a recently-created mechanism
whereby parties come together to discuss policy before it is
presented to the Parliament. He urged the USG to engage with this
Council in order to improve US-Sudanese relations. END SUMMARY.

2.(SBU) On January 30 CDA Fernandez called on Dr. Mudawi El-Turabi,
well-connected DUP Parliament member, political strategist, and
Director of the GNU's Political Parties Council. Dr. El-Turabi, a
distant relative of Hassan El-Turabi, is part of the DUP faction
that is closely allied with the NCP. El-Turabi was joined at the
meeting by his deputy, who is a Southerner, and his personal
assistant, who is from the East.

-------------------------------
GNU POLITICAL PARTIES COUNCIL
-------------------------------
3. (U) El-Turabi eagerly explained the role of the GNU Parties
Council. The Council, which was established in 2006, is a forum in
which all of the political parties represented in the National
Assembly come together to discuss "issues of relevance to the GNU"
and follow up on government business, said El-Turabi. When the
Council was first created, it was a loosely-formed institution in
which two members from each party would meet informally. In 2007,
however, a decision was made to further develop the Council and use
it as a mechanism to reach consensus on critical issues before draft
legislation went before the National Assembly. The Council now has a
constitution, a memorandum of association, a permanent building, and
an organized structure. El-Turabi said that the latest edition of
the Political Parties Act was designed and agreed upon by the
parties in the GNU Parties Council. He boasted that by the time the
Act was voted upon in Parliament, only 12 out of 450 assembly
members voted against it. El-Turabi credits the smooth passage of
the Act to the proactive work of the Parties Council. Consensus on
the Armed Forces Act, said El-Turabi, was also achieved in this way.
El-Turabi explained that the upcoming business of the Council will
be to discuss and try to reach consensus on the draft National
Security, Media, Police and Electoral Acts.

4. (U) El-Turabi said "phase II" of the Political Parties Council is
to establish party council units at the state level. He has spoken
with several governors who he said willingly support the idea.
Additionally, he said, GoSS Vice President Riek Machar supports the
idea. He admitted that he had received major funding from NCP leader
Nafie Ali Nafie for the Political Parties Council.

----------------------------------------
DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF US-SUDANESE RELATIONS
----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) El-Turabi discussed with the CDA issues of concern for the
GNU - the increasing level of violence in the universities and the
presence and growth of fanatical Islamic groups. CDA Fernandez
agreed with El-Turabi that the GNU should be concerned about these
things. El-Turabi half-heartedly joked that the government must
also be concerned with the Americans. Referring to the MFA's recent
rebuke of the CDA's public remarks, El-Turabi said that "small
things, sometimes, can get out of hand quickly." (ref A) CDA
Fernandez told El-Turabi that he will continue to talk publicly
about US polic concerns on Abyei, UNAMID deployment, and distrust
in Darfur and made it clear that the GNU's threats would not change
USG policies.

6. (SBU) CDA Fernandez lamented that even when the GNU does a good
thing, it goes about it in the wrong way. He described the NCP as
"misers with cooperation" with the international community, doling
out cooperation with marked distaste and reluctance. The CDA stated
that the USG is disappointed that relations with the Sudanese
government have not improved since August 2007. CDA Fernandez said
there was a clear opportunity for the Khartoum government to work
with the USG to improve relations over the past six months, but it
seems as though the Sudanese government did not care and did not try
to better things by early resolution of issues related to UNAMID
deployment. "It seems as though they want to pick a fight with us,
although there is still a chance to improve things" said CDA
Fernandez. He indicated that if the GNU expels the British UNAMID
Chief of Staff, US-Sudanese relations will only worsen. (ref b).

7. (SBU) When the CDA asked El-Turabi what happened to the Sudanese
government delegation that was supposed to visit the US late last
year, El-Turabi said that "someone in the Foreign Office" has been

KHARTOUM 00000154 002 OF 003


obstructing the process. El-Turabi, who was to be a part of the
traveling delegation, said that the group's passports were given to
the MFA on 15 November and that an official letter regarding the
trip had been written. CDA Fernandez described this as the "game"
that the Sudanese government plays to obstruct U.S. Congressional
visits to Sudan and distract from real issues (such as Darfur) on
the ground.
--------------------------------------------
A CALL TO DELAY THE 2009 NATIONAL ELECTIONS
--------------------------------------------
8. (SBU) El-Turabi told CDA Fernandez that he is "not optimistic"
that the 2009 national elections will be held on time. He explained
that there have already been significant hold-ups to the electoral
process - the inability of the major parties to agree on the
percentage make-up of a mixed electoral system and the continual
delay of the national census. El-Turabi warned that Darfur, South
Kordofan, Blue Nile, and "even the whole South" are unsafe and
unstable for elections to be carried out in 2009. El-Turabi also
said that no thought has been given to how the major parties will
cope with a change in North/South ratios in the newly elected GNU.


9. (SBU) CDA Fernandez warned El-Turabi that the GNU will have a big
problem on its hands if it chooses to delay the 2009 elections. The
problem will be one of image and impression, said Fernandez. It
will serve to fuel and perhaps confirm the international community's
impression that the Khartoum government "cheats on everything."
Delaying the elections will be dangerous because it cements a
pattern of suspicious postponement and non-commitment on serious
peace-building issues whether CPA, DPA, UNAMID deployment or
elections.

10. (SBU) El-Turabi responded by listing several "worrisome"
political issues. First, the NCP, which has split and formed
factions within itself and with other parties, such as DUP, is just
a "power-keeping mechanism" without a real ideology. Second, there
is no delineation of finances between the NCP and the State. State
money is used to finance party activities and other parties are at a
critical disadvantage because they do not have access to the same
funding. Finally, the younger generation (those under 40), said
El-Turabi, have lost confidence in the current political leaders.
He is uncertain whether this is strictly due to political apathy or
something more serious. If it is more serious, he said, it could
trigger another Kenya. El-Turabi warned that if post-election
violence were to occur in Sudan, it would be much worse than what is
currently going on in Kenya and will lead to a disruption in the
whole region. El-Turabi joked, "We will need all your troops that
are now in Iraq" to contain such a situation. Because of this
potential for violence, El-Turabi suggested that "if there is
national consensus to waive the 2009 elections to a later date until
the parties are more ready, I am for that." CDA Fernandez warned
that if the GNU delayed elections, it would be seen as the
"unraveling of the CPA." The CDA added that Southerners fear that
if there are not elections in 2009, there will be no referendum in
2011.

11. (SBU) El-Turabi's deputy, who is a Southerner, stated that the
SPLM is not ready for elections. He said that the mindset within
the party must be transformed from military to political and there
must be a South/South dialogue. He also expressed concern that many
smaller parties do not have their own financial support base and
will not be able to accept international funding if they register
under the Political Parties Act. CDA stressed the importance of the
ability of all parties to compete on a level playing field, but
again warned that delayed elections will make the GNU look very
suspicious.

--------------------------------------
A CONCILIATORY REQUEST FOR COOPERATION
--------------------------------------
12. (SBU) The meeting ended on a positive note with El-Turabi saying
that the GNU Political Parties Council would like to touch base and
cooperate with the U.S. on vital issues such as the proposed
elections law and media act. He said it was important for the
Council to be open to the entire international community in Sudan
and strive toward creating "openness and democracy." He expressed
that the GNU should not work in a vacuum and that the Council will
work with the international community to find solutions to our
differences.

13. (SBU) COMMENT: El-Turabi's suggestion that the national
elections be delayed is the first time that a politician closely
aligned with the NCP has suggested that the elections should not go
forward as planned in 2009. Other NCP leaders have suggested that
it is the SPLM which wants to postpone elections but doesn't want to
bear the political cost of calling for such a delay. El-Turabi's
idea that a national consensus to "waive" the elections to a later

KHARTOUM 00000154 003 OF 003


date can be reached is unrealistic but would provide a certain
amount of political cover for such a controversial step. Southerners
fear that if elections do not go forward as planned, the 2011
referendum will also be sidelined and they don't seem to be prepared
to make this sacrifice. It is imperative that we continue to use
every opportunity to push the NCP to follow up on its CPA
commitments.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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