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Cablegate: Heading Into 2009, Ncp Looks Strong in North Kordofan

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DE RUEHKH #0329/01 0651449
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FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0125
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TAGS: KDEM PGOV EAID SOCI SU
SUBJECT: HEADING INTO 2009, NCP LOOKS STRONG IN NORTH KORDOFAN


1. (U) SUMMARY: Once an Umma Party stronghold, the National
Congress Party (NCP) now appears well placed in North Kordofan
heading into the 2009 national elections. On February 21, the NCP
won University of North Kordofan student elections in a campaign
supported by a visit of Presidential Assistant Nafie Ali Al-Nafie
and his promise to complete large infrastructure projects in the
region. Both NCP and opposition leaders told econoff in a recent
trip to the region that the NCP has the best organized campaign in
North Kordofan. Opposition leaders also expressed unanimous concern
that without election monitors 2009 elections will not be free and
fair. END SUMMARY.

STUDENT ELECTIONS FORESHADOW 2009 ELECTION?
-------------------------------------------
2. (U) On February 21, the University of North Kordofan held
student elections, announcing the following day that the NCP had
won. On March 3, the independent daily "As-Sahafa" reported that
University of Kordofan Vice Chancellor Ahmad Al-Tajani Al-Mardi
assured that the elections were free and fair and were monitored by
impartial observers from all sectors of society.

3. (U) The NCP-appointed local commissioner of Nahud, Sharif
Al-Fadil, told econoff on February 22 that the NCP won by over one
thousand votes at North Kordofan University. According to Al-Fadil,
this was the first NCP victory at this university in ten years, the
SPLM having won the previous three years and other opposition
movements before that. (Note: "Al-Soudani" reported that the NCP
had not won in Kordofan elections in five years. End Note.) "This
is a clear sign that the NCP is doing great work in North Kordofan,"
boasted Al-Fadil. He asserted that the NCP has succeeded in
bringing new freedom to Sudan, ending the civil war, developing
Sudan's petroleum industry, and improving Sudan's higher education.
He boasted that it is the only party with intelligent leaders, and
that the NCP was so intelligent that it has started to develop a
lobby in the U.S. to undermine the Save Darfur coalition and other
activisit groups.

4. (U) Abd Al-Gadir Moniem Mansour, the Nazir (tribal leader) of
the Hamar tribe told econoff on February 22 that the Kordofan
student elections forecast how Kordofan will vote in 2009.
According to Mansour, the NCP and SPLM are the only viable political
parties in the region. The once popular Umma Party, he said, has
imploded and now lacks money and influence. Mansour predicted that
the NCP will win the 2009 elections.

5. (SBU) Dr. Abdel Daiem Abdel Salaam of the Information Media
Department at the University of West Kordofan criticized the NCP's
involvement in the student elections, stating that it heavily funded
the campaign and used national institutions (specifically the
National Support Fund for Students (NSFS)) only for the NCP's
benefit. According to Abdel Salaam, the NSFS awards financial aid
(e.g., paying student fees, providing housing, and allocating per
diems) to NCP- affiliated university students. Abdel Salaam stated
that the NSFS is similar to other national institution such as the
Popular Defense Forces and the Popular Committees, which are
manipulated by the NCP for partisan gain.

CAMPAIGNING FOR 2009
--------------------
6. (U) Both NCP and opposition representatives stated that the NCP
has the most extensive organization of any political party in North
Kordofan. An-Nahud's NCP party president, Ibrahim Abdel Gadier,
stated "The NCP is the only party that is organized and ready to
represent the people." Abdel Gadier said that he traveled with
Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir (a leading NCP member and Speaker of the
National Assembly) and Nafie Ali Nafie (Assistant to the President,
Deputy of the NCP, and NCP Secretary for Political Mobilization and
Organization) when they visited the state recently. Nafie promised
that by April, the remaining 17 kilometers of the El-Obeid-Nahud
road would be paved. He also promised to pave 22 kilometers of
internal roads in An-Nahud. Asked about the proximity of these
projects to mid-term elections, Commissioner Sharif Al-Fadil told
econoff, "Some might say that we are trying to buy the elections.
But you have to ask who is buying and who is selling? The Sudanese
people are very intelligent, and it is an insult to them for you to
think that the Sudanese people will change their votes based on one
or two projects."

7. (SBU) Opposition leaders concede that the NCP has a campaign
advantage with money, a developed organization, and the power of the
media. Abd Al-Hamid Moneim Mansour, the Minister of Health and SPLM
president for North Kordofan state, complained that the NCP controls
Sudanese state media, using it to its advantage, while leaving
opposition parties "essentially without a voice." Dr. Abdel Daiem
Abdel Salaam of the Information Media Department in West Kordofan
University predicted that the NCP will win elections because it
controls all influential leaders in the state, donates money to
influential organizations and civic groups, and has a strong
campaign structure. Abdel Salaam stated that the NCP has started
campaign activities much earlier than any other party, that it has
exerted "door to door pressure" on individuals in the community, and
that not everything the NCP does is entirely transparent. The Nazir
of the Hamar tribe based in An-Nahood claimed that the NCP recently
gave substantial donations to the An-Nahood Women's Union and school
uniforms to primary and secondary students. "This will influence
the way these women and parents will vote," stated the tribal
leader.

ELECTION MONITORS NEEDED
------------------------
8. (U) In a large meeting with over twenty El-Obeid civic leaders
of differing political orientations, econoff repeatedly heard of the
need for independent observers of the 2009 elections. Al-Rashid
Othman Al-Sayyed Abd Al-Baqi, the General Secretary for the Sudanese
Businessmen's Association in El-Obeid stated, "We need unbiased and
neutral observers. We will not trust the results of the elections
if the government that is in power is responsible for organizing
them." One representative from the El-Obeid Association for
Reconstruction and Development argued that all parties need equal
access to campaign funding, as "the NCP can buy the elections if it
wants to right now." Other contacts stated that reliable census
information is needed for Kordofan as the population of the region
has risen dramatically in the last decade (with IDPs from Darfur and
urban migration following desertification.) They argued that
without the census information, conditions could be ripe for fraud.


COMMENT
-------
9. (SBU) The NCP's success in the North Kordofan student elections
follows other NCP university victories, such as in Kassala where a
union of Islamic parties led primarily by the NCP defeated an
opposition alliance of the Beja Congress, the Umma Party, the SPLM,
and the Democratic Front on February 20. Nafie's tour of Kordofan,
his pledged infrastructure projects, and his provocative speeches
appear to have set the tone for campaigning elsewhere. For example,
one week after his trip to Kordofan, Nafie traveled to White Nile
State where he inaugurated a number of infrastructure projects (e.g.
an electricity station, new roads and an irrigation canal),
witnessed a mass marriage ceremony of 500 couples, and provocatively
declared, "We will defeat the charlatan of this era and win
elections."

10. (SBU) Comment continued: In North Kordofan, the opposition
already is accusing the NCP of controlling state media, using
national resources and institutions for partisan purposes, and even
buying votes. The opposition parties' concern about the potential
for fraud and abuse in the 2009 elections is justified, and the
international community will need to focus more attention on the
elections as they grow closer. There are numerous obstacles to
timely elections (the elections law still has not been passed due to
wrangling over percentages) but it is clear that the NCP is
preparing aggressively for them.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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