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Cablegate: Ncp Claims Splm Obstruction of Elections Law

VZCZCXRO9940
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0180 0361606
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051606Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9895
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000180

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NCP CLAIMS SPLM OBSTRUCTION OF ELECTIONS LAW


1. (SBU) The SPLM is employing a strategy to delay passage of the
elections law, claimed NCP political executive committee negotiator
Dirdeiry Ahmed Mohammed. During a meeting with polchief February 4,
Dirdeiry claimed the SPLM agreed months ago to a 60/40 direct vs.
proportional voting system in parliamentary elections, and that SPLM
negotiator (and Governor of Blue Nile State) Malik Agar signed an
agreement on those percentages with the NCP in September 2007. He
said the SPLM later flip-flopped in favor of a 40/60 direct vs.
proportional system, and now would concede a 50/50 split, but only
if the 25 percent of women required in the legislature will be
included in the proportional seats. He claimed the NCP would like
the women to be elected directly but did not explain how this would
work.

2. (SBU) Dirdeiry explained that the main reason for the NCP's
support for 60 percent direct voting is that this corresponds to the
270 historical voting constituencies in Sudan (60 percent of a
450-member parliament is 270). To get around this impasse, Dirdeiry
claimed the NCP offered to increase the parliament to 500 members
and reduce direct seats to 55 percent, which would mean creating
five new constituencies (55 percent of 500 corresponds to 275
seats). He claimed the SPLM dismissed this plan as "too expensive"
due to the salary expenses of the new MPs.

3. (SBU) Dirdeiry said another example of SPLM stall tactics on
elections are the timelines for the electoral law. He claimed that
in recent NCP-SPLM political executive committee meetings, the NCP
had proposed shortening some of the timelines so that an election in
2009 will be possible. For example, instead of taking three weeks
to review the elections law, the parliament should take only one
week, and the President should not need an additional week to sign
the law. He claimed the SPLM had rejected this proposal, citing the
need for greater consultation.

4. (SBU) Dirdeiry said he believes the SPLM changed its position on
voting percentages not just to delay, but also because it realized
that a large percentage of directly-elected seats may not be in the
party's interests. He claimed this is because the SPLM would lose
its ability to put SPLM insiders in the parliament and is worried
that Nuer and Shilluk and other minority politicians who are
difficult to control will gain more power and visibility under a
majority direct voting system. "The SPLM's objective is to maintain
Dinka hegemony," accused Dirdeiry.

5. (SBU) Dirdeiry said the political executive committee has not
discussed Abyei at all because the issue was referred to the
Presidency. However, he said the Presidency also has not made any
progress on the issue. Dirdeiry acknowledged that to leave this
issue unresolved is dangerous due to the possibility of conflict.
He claimed the NCP would like to resolve Abyei because "the SPLM can
keep that card in their back pocket and use it for blackmail" by
creating a crisis whenever they need to.

6. (SBU) Comment: As the NCP's lead negotiator on Abyei (and as a
Misseriya from southern West Kordofan state) Dirdeiry has strong
feelings on the subject and is not being honest when he says the NCP
would like to resolve the issue (unless of course the outcome is
that Abyei goes to the North). More likely, the NCP would like to
use Abyei as a bargaining chip to tempt the SPLM into a ruling
alliance past the 2009 elections to keep the current regime in
place. However, Dirdeiry's comments regarding SPLM intransigence on
elections are partially credible. The question becomes which party
fears elections more. Although the SPLM is more democratic and
transparent than the NCP in some ways, elections may carry a greater
risk of creating tribal instability in the South. Though it also
has an interest in delaying elections (and certainly has an interest
in excluding Darfur from elections) the NCP can test the SPLM's
commitment to unity by pursuing national elections - and may seek to
undermine the CPA depending on what alliances it makes with northern
parties following elections. The international community may have
to encourage the SPLM toward elections, as the majority of the South
and many in the SPLM are looking primarily toward the 2011
referendum on southern self-determination, and have less appetite
for the 2009 national elections which many believe will be stolen
anyway by the NCP. However, the SPLM knows that it cannot avoid
elections without endangering the CPA, the full implementation of
which is the greatest security of all for the South.

FERNANDEZ

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