Cablegate: Dup Party Splinters Due to Poor Leadership and Ncp
DE RUEHKH #0325/01 0641535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041535Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0119
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000325
DEPT FOR AF/SPG
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KDEM SU
SUBJECT: DUP PARTY SPLINTERS DUE TO POOR LEADERSHIP AND NCP
REF: KHARTOUM 128
1. (SBU) Summary: Recent defectors to the NCP describe the
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as lacking effective, democratic
leadership and a vision for the future. They see the NCP as an
attractive alternative and contend that the NCP has changed for the
better since Al-Turabi's departure. They are less attracted by the
SPLM, viewing it as an armed rebel movement rather than a political
party. Some observers accuse the NCP of poaching across party lines
in order to weaken the DUP and guarantee an NCP victory in the 2009
elections. End Summary.
Democratic Unionist Party Splinters Again
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2. (U) Several prominent members of the DUP recently announced
their defection to the National Congress Party (NCP) shortly after
the start of a DUP-NCP dialogue. Meanwhile preparations are under
way for the expected return of elderly DUP leader Mohamed Othman
Al-Mirghani after almost 18 years of self-imposed exile in Egypt.
Like most other Sudanese political parties in recent years, the DUP
has suffered several internal splits, but the most recent resulted
in the loss of prominent DUP members who have provided financial
support over the years.
3. (U) Five factions now carry the name Democratic Unionist Party
moniker: the original DUP led by El-Sayed Mohamad Othman
Al-Mirghani, DUP Hindi Faction, DUP Haj Mudawi Faction, DUP Mohamed
Al-Azhari Faction, and the DUP Mirghani Abdel-Rahman Faction. Each
group claims to legitimately carry the DUP name.
DUP "Without Political Leadership"
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4. (SBU) Poloff met separately with two of the most recent prominent
defectors, wealthy businessmen Ali Abbarsi and Hisham Al-Brair.
Abbrasi and Al-Brair share common reasons for leaving the DUP for
the NCP. They complained about Al-Mirghani's long absences from
Sudan as well as his autocratic management style, pointing to
failures to consult others in the party leadership, control of party
members' activities, lack of transparent and democratic decision
making, failure to nurture a successor generation in the party, and
treating party members as Al-Khatmia Sufi sect followers. (Note:
Although technically separate organizations -- one religious, the
other political - most members of the Al-Khatmia Sufi religious sect
also belong to the DUP. End Note).
5. (SBU) Ali Abbarsi charged that Al-Mirghani "is managing the party
by phone from outside the country." He claimed the A-Mirghani is
not available most of the time and spends three months in Sudan and
the rest of the year in London or Alexandria. Al-Brair asked
rhetorically "how can we serve the country's causes without
political leadership?" According to Hisham Al-Brair, disagreements
within DUP have been on the rise in the last eighteen months.
NCP Has Changed, SPLM Has Not
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6. (SBU) Asked about why they joined the NCP rather than form a new
DUP faction as have other DUP defectors, Abbarsi and Al-Brair
asserted that NCP has changed dramatically after the departure of
Hassan Al-Turabi in 2000. "My disagreements with the NCP ended when
Al-Turabi left, which was a shift from the iron fist policy and
since then the NCP has headed in a different direction," said
Al-Brair. "The policy the NCP is following now represents 60% of the
original DUP policy" he added. Abbarsi echoed the comment about
Turabi's departure and pointed to his need to protect his interests
as a businessman. "I cannot afford to stay away from the economic
decision-making circles and allow others to control my business
7. (SBU) Abbarsi and Al-Brair said they did not consider joining
SPLM when they decided to leave the DUP for two main reasons.
First, according to Al-Brair "We do not trust them especially after
the late John Garang decided to negotiate the peace agreement with
the NCP without discussing the idea or even informing the DUP
leadership, his partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)."
Second, according to Al-Brair and Abbarsi, although the SPLM now is
the NCP's partner in the Government of National Unity, "they need to
transform themselves into a political party before the elections."
(Note: The SPLM obviously is a political movement, though it is
notable that these DUP defectors share a perception of the SPLM as
an armed rebel movement, a view shared by many northerners. End
8. (SBU) Regarding elections, Al-Brair opined "they must be held in
the whole country - no exceptions for Darfur or the South."
Al-Brair noted that the NCP is ready to form alliances with other
parties including the Umma party, the DUP, and the Communist party.
However Al-Brair indicated that he is against an alliance with the
Communist Party "because it has been closed on itself for many years
and has nothing new to offer."
DUP: We're Reaching Out Too
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9. (SBU) In an earlier meeting with Poloff, DUP-Al-Mirghani Deputy
Secretary General Tag Elsir Mohamed Saleh said that his party
"continues conversations with all stakeholders in Sudan." Saleh
said the DUP's dialogue with the NCP is limited to election
arrangements and national reconciliation. He noted that the DUP is
represented on the Elections Laws Committee. "We support the
mixed-electoral system based on a 50-50 percentage" as advocated by
the SPLM "and could even accept 55-45, but not the 60-40 proposed by
the NCP, because this is going to maintain the status quo."
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10. (SBU) While Al-Mirghani clings to the DUP leadership and
frustrates members with his management style, the NCP is all too
eager to poach prominent defectors like Abbarsi and Al-Brair,
possibly obviating the need for an alliance with DUP Al-Mirhgani.
The NCP would also like to break up the moribund (pre-CPA) National
Democratic Alliance - which was chaired by Al-Mirghani and included
the DUP, the Umma, and the SPLM - in favor of an all northern
alliance confronting the SPLM and cornering it as only a "Southern"
party with limited appeal. Both of these actions strengthen the
hand of the NCP heading into elections, should they ever actually