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Cablegate: Splm Hard at Work On the Referendum Law

VZCZCXRO9428
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0291 0590709
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280709Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0059
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000291

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SU
SUBJECT: SPLM HARD AT WORK ON THE REFERENDUM LAW

REFS: A. Khartoum 288 B. Khartoum 283

SPLM Caucus Chairman Steps Down
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1. (U) Manoah Aligo Donga, National Assembly member and Chairman of
the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) Caucus in the North,
told poloff on 25 February that he will step down from his Caucus
Chairman position in April 2008. Having held the post for three
years, Donga will remain in the National Assembly and will be
succeeded as Caucus Chairman by his deputy, Samuel Deng.

Bill on 2011 Referendum in the Works
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) Donga explained that during the National Assembly recess,
SPLM parliamentarians have been drawing up a draft bill governing
the scheduled 2011 referendum on whether the South will remain in
Sudan or will declare its independence. The draft bill speaks to
voter eligibility, voting regulations, and the make-up of a
referendum commission. Donga expects to share the draft, which is
nearly complete, with Southern Sudanese political parties next week.
He described the draft law as a "baby in the womb" of its mother -
Southern Sudan. After Southern parties have seen the draft bill and
reached consensus on it, the SPLM will take the draft to the press
(before the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has a chance to
review it) so that civil society can comment. Donga said that the
SPLM hopes to have a final draft to present to the National
Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) by April. The bill will
have to be discussed and negotiated in the NCRC by the NCP, the
SPLM, and other opposition parties before going to Parliament for
approval.

3. (U) Regarding the issue of referendum voting, Donga said that the
SPLM will encourage displaced Southerners in the North and refugees
in neighboring countries to return to Southern Sudan for the
referendum vote.

Comment
- - - -
4. (SBU) We are not surprised that the SPLM already is working on a
draft referendum bill, given the referendum's importance to the
South (ref a). Nor do we doubt that the NCP will hotly contest the
SPLM's draft bill and that it will seek ways to stall the referendum
process, perhaps by hijacking Southerner's ability to put referendum
legislation in place. Given the worrisome impasse on the draft
electoral bill (ref b), disagreement and delay will likely be even
worse on the referendum legislation. However, unlike the two
parties' lack of concern about any potential delay in 2009 elections
due to legislative disagreement, the SPLM will be unwilling to let
the 2011 referendum be side-tracked.

FERNANDEZ

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