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Cablegate: Umma Party Leader Predicts Ncp "Crash Landing" If

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PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0161/01 0341349
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031349Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9864
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000161

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/SPG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPKO PGOV PREL SU
SUBJECT: UMMA PARTY LEADER PREDICTS NCP "CRASH LANDING" IF
POLICIES DON'T CHANGE

REF: 07 KHARTOUM 1873

1. (SBU) Summary: CDA Fernandez met with Umma Party Chairman
Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi January 30 along with Umma party members
Balghis Badri and Professor El-Sheikh Mahjoub. Al-Mahdi said
the NCP's unpopularity and divided leadership is the basis
for its provocative attitude towards the international
community and the USG in particular. Al-Mahdi characterized
the NCP's provocations as "bluff" and predicted they will
cause the party and even the country to "crash land," sooner
or later, possibly leading to exploitation by opportunistic
Islamic extremists inside Sudan and by Sudan's neighbors.
CDA Fernandez told Al-Mahdi that the current U.S.
administration has sufficient time to carry out its goals and
that ending the violence in Darfur is critical to improving
Sudanese-American relations. End summary.

2. (SBU) CDA Fernandez noted that the National Congress Party
(NCP), lacking the trust of the people and outside world,
seems bent on a strategy of increased provocation aimed at
many in the international community. He asked about
Al-Mahdi's recent discussions with the NCP and President
Al-Bashir. Al-Mahdi said they were motivated by concerns for
Sudan's future because the current actions of the NCP will
lead to a "political crash landing" if they are not
corrected. He predicted this would lead to a power vacuum
that Sudan's internal enemies (Al-Qa'ida-like radicals) as
well as her neighbors might exploit. Al-Mahdi said that the
NCP realizes they have no credibility with the people and
therefore are scared and looking for a way out. This has
prompted the Umma Party's much publicized engagement with the
NCP Al-Mahdi expected two to three more weeks of discussion
to see if the NCP is at all interested in Umma's help in
securing a "soft-landing".

3. (SBU) Al-Mahdi said there are four issues that if not
properly managed could lead to problems: implementation of
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); implementation of
the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA); guarantees for basic
freedoms; and institution of a new electoral law. Al-Mahdi
said the Umma Party is ready to advocate for these objectives
but complained that the U.S. had "bilaterally excluded
Sudanese civil and cultural society from the discussions"
over the past few years, preferring to deal with only two
parties (NCP and SPLM).

4. (SBU) CDA said that after UNSCR 1769, the NCP could have
easily prevented the current predicament and changed the
relationship with the international community and the USG by
simply implementing the resolution. They continue to
obstruct deployment and provoke the international community
by a whole range of obstacles, including refusing to permit
Thai and Nepalese troops to join UNAMID, and by threatening
to expel the UNAMID Chief of Staff. Al-Mahdi called these
provocations a "bluff." He claimed the NCP has told him they
have no hope of winning the elections and proposed to him
that the NCP and the Umma Party should act together to
postpone the elections.

5. (SBU) Al-Mahdi observed that the NCP is divided and there
is no one in charge, not even party leaders such Nafi Ali
Nafie and Ali Osman Taha. Al-Mahdi also claimed the NCP uses
more than half of all oil revenues to buy off possible army
challenges to its authority. He said the NCP leadership
miscalculated when it signed the CPA -- though obviously at
the time they saw it as the only alternative to a long war.
However, the CPA has not delivered the political benefits
they imagined, and now they are bound by the CPA and see no
way out.

6. (SBU) Al-Mahdi said that the NCP leadership is not truly
independent and claimed they are still partnered with Islamic
fundamentalists. He said the fundamentalist ideology prevents
the NCP from acting wisely for the benefit of the Sudanese
people. He claimed Islamic "terrorists" are working with the
NCP to watch the opposition parties as well as others within
the NCP. Asked if he saw other signs of Islamic
fundamentalism in Sudan, for example in universities or
elsewhere, Al-Mahdi claimed that in Sudan it's difficult for
Islamic radicalism to take root. "It has been tried but only
as an avenue to reject other possibilities."

7. (SBU) Other Umma Party members present said the NCP is
full of false bravado, thinking that the Americans have their
hands full elsewhere (Iraq and Kenya). Al-Mahdi said that
Iraq is a false analogy. "You do not have to do that here, it
wouldn't require much but a failed Sudan would be a
nightmare." Al-Mahdi asked CDA if the USG is working with

KHARTOUM 00000161 002 OF 002


the SPLM to pressure the NCP. CDA noted that SPLM is in a
trap; they know the smart move is to work with other parties
such as the Umma Party, but they remain with the NCP because
of the CPA and because of the money that the NCP can provide.
Intellectually the SPLM knows better but cannot totally free
themselves from this dependence on money.

8. (SBU) Al-Mahdi said the USG should not only look at
Sudanese politics as a North/South problem. "It's only a
North problem - this is a totalitarian regime." CDA agreed
and said the USG needs to see more of the leaders in the
North. However, CDA Fernandez said any discussions need to
take into account the priority of solving Darfur because that
is what the West (and the U.S.) is most focused on now. The
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are at the heart of the
matter. The USG needs to be able to say definitely that "the
genocide is over." Without that the US will never be
satisfied, nor should it be.

9. (SBU) Comment: Al-Mahdi sought to portray his recent
dealings with the NCP in the most possible positive light but
even many in his own party are disturbed by the widely
publicized overtures to Umma by President Al-Bashir. His
assertion that the NCP is still closely tied to Islamic
fundamentalists doesn't track with our observations - the NCP
is cynically interested in money and power not ideology.
Despite his current marginalized role, Al-Mahdi is the
biggest fish (other than the SPLM) with whom the NCP may
attempt to ally itself during elections. However Al-Mahdi
will play his cards carefully since one of his objectives
will be to retain his opposition party credentials and he
does not want to be seen as being closely allied with the
NCP. He is already paying a political price for this public
flirtation.
FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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