Cablegate: Goss Legislative Assembly

DE RUEHKH #0168 0350552
R 040552Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) On February 1 the Consul General and the visiting DCM
hosted a lunch for four members of the South Sudan Legislative
Assembly (SSLA), including Peter Deshir, Chair of the Information
and Culture Committee, Agnes Lasuba, Chair of the Peace and
Reconciliation Committee, Prof Barry Wanja, Chair of the Economic
Committee, and Martin Tako on the Gender, Social Welfare Committee.

2. (SBU) The mood of the legislators concerning the CPA was
generally pessimistic. Distrust of the NCP's intentions runs deep
in the South, and they expressed little confidence that the
elections scheduled for 2009 would come off as planned. In their
view, there was little incentive on the part of the NCP to follow
through on a path that would probably lead to their loss of power.
On one point they were firm, however: that the 2011 referendum on
southern independence must take place and on time. Anything the NCP
did to delay or cancel that event would almost certainly lead to a
resumption of armed conflict. In their view, separation would be
the inevitable result of the referendum. There was simply too much
bitterness and distrust between the North and the South, aggravated
by what they saw as a continued lack of commitment by Khartoum to
adhere to the CPA. International pressure was what forced the NCP
to sign the peace agreement, and only continued international
pressure had any hope of forcing its continued implementation.

3. (SBU) CG asked how likely it was that we would see the kind of
ethnic conflict in an independent southern Sudan that we are
witnessing in Kenya and that so often erupts in Africa. The
legislators agreed that the potential exists, but felt that the SPLM
as a political movement, at least for the next several years, was
strong enough in the South to unite the people whatever their ethnic
affiliation. The danger was from unscrupulous politicians who in
the future might stir up ethnic conflict as a means of personal
advancement at the expense of the national welfare. They praised
President Kiir for his careful attention to maintaining a balanced
ethnic representation in his government. The decision to hold the
recent CPA anniversary celebrations in the city of Wau instead of in
Juba was also cited as part of a continuing effort to make all of
southern Sudan feel part of a united whole, an effort they were
confident would continue.

4. (SBU) CG then asked the legislators about Assembly relations
with the executive branch of government, noting that Kiir had
recently promulgated several key new laws by executive decree,
bypassing the Legislative Assembly. The CG had seen this kind of
thing in other countries, and it almost always led to the weakening,
and eventual marginalization, of the legislative branch of
government, breaking down any check on executive power. The
legislators agreed that did often happen, but felt it was not a
problem for them because under the system they have in place all
executive decrees must be ratified by the South Sudan Legislative
Assembly when it next met. Therefore unacceptable decrees had only
an interim effect and could be voted down by the Assembly.

5. (SBU) The legislators said their biggest problem is lack of
experience and resources. In particular, they have little research
capacity - which would be of enormous help in drafting laws and
learning how to conduct their affairs. They have a library, but no
books and only a few computers. They appealed to the USG to help
them in this regard, and the CG promised to see what could be done.

6. (SBU) Comment: Strengthening the capacity of the South Sudan
Legislative Assembly is a wise investment in the future of
democratic development in the south. Without an effective
legislative branch of government, the tendency for the executive to
assert supreme control over the government is a real temptation. We
will explore ways to assist the assembly.


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