Search

 

Cablegate: University Politics: Ncp Dominance, Islamist Challenges,

VZCZCXRO5941
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0381/01 0751112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151112Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0200
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000381

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF S/E WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR, AND ALSO PASS USAID

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SU
SUBJECT: UNIVERSITY POLITICS: NCP DOMINANCE, ISLAMIST CHALLENGES,
REBEL GROUPS, AND OTHER TRENDS

REF: A) KHARTOUM 350

B) KHARTOUM 340
C) KHARTOUM 329

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In four separate meetings the week of March 9,
student political party leaders told emboffs that the National
Congress Party is the most organized and successful political party
in Sudan's universities. Many opposition contacts cautioned that
this NCP dominance is due not to the NCP's platform, but rather to
its deep resources, overall student apathy, and a lack of viable
alternatives. Contacts emphasized that an unaffiliated Islamist
constituency poses a threat to the NCP, as it did in the University
of Khartoum's last student elections. Student leaders of the Sudan
Liberation Movement led by Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahid Al-Nur
reported that they have been harassed, detained, and tortured for
their political activities on campus. END SUMMARY.

NCP STRONG, BUT ISLAMISTS COULD HELP OPPOSITION
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) On March 12, the Deputy Secretary General of the National
Congress Party Student Association, Sana' Hamid Al-Awad told econoff
that of 24 student elections in the last year, the NCP won 19.
Al-Awad stated that the most notable losses were in Juba University,
the University of Khartoum, and Jazira University. Although an
opposition alliance (composed primarily of the SPLM and Umma)
defeated the NCP at the University of Khartoum, Al-Awad attributed
this loss to rival Islamic groups that convinced some students to
break away from the NCP. "Some students think that the NCP is too
moderate and migrate to more radical groups," stated Al-Awad. She
stated that the two most notable Islamic alternatives to the NCP at
the University of Khartoum are "Takfir and Hijra" and "Ansar
Al-Sunna" (both of these are generic names for radical - and often
violent - Islamist groups). Al-Awad stated that the next scheduled
university election is April 15 at Red Sea University, and that NCP
campaigning is well underway.

STUDENTS WILL PLAY BIG ROLE IN 2009
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (U) Al-Awad stated that political participation on campus has
decreased, but that students are still important for Sudan's
political life. Even though political activism is in decline, said
Al-Awad, the larger number of universities and students elevate the
importance of student politics. She stated that within the last two
decades the number of universities in Sudan has jumped from a
handful to over 56 today. Al-Awad estimated that approximately 40%
of the voters in the 2009 elections will be students or recent
graduates. (Note: Although Al-Awad's estimates may be exaggerated,
the majority of Sudan's population is under 30. End Note). Al-Awad
also stated that energetic students have a multiplier effect on
society and will influence their families, neighborhoods, and
tribes. Al-Awad predicted that like the ongoing student elections,
the NCP will win in the 2009 national mid-term elections.
Nonetheless, Al-Awad said that the NCP would not rule-out an
alliance with the SPLM. "We can win on our own, but it might be
better for the future of the country and for the prospects of a
unified Sudan if we align with the SPLM," said Al-Awad.

NCP ORGANIZATION
- - - - - - - - -
4. (U) Al-Awad emphasized that the NCP has the most developed
organization and structure of any political group, and a
comprehensive social, cultural, intellectual, and political program
for its students. She said that the party's leadership recognizes
the importance of student politics, as "this generation will be the
next leaders of Sudan." Even more important than winning student
elections, said Al-Awad, is training young adults in the art of
politics. She stated that many NCP student groups collect dues from
their members which are later distributed to poor NCP students. She
stated that the NCP provides academic tutoring centers for its
members. Al-Awad admitted that NCP university party membership can
lead to employment opportunities, as the connections that one
develops help one find "intermediaries" in the party.

SPLM
- - -
5. (U) On March 11, the SPLM Chairman for Youth and Students,
Walid Hamid, told econoff that there are over 3,000 SPLM students at
12 universities and higher institutions of learning in Khartoum.
Hamid stated that most of these 3,000 students are based at the
University of Juba (which is mostly still in Khartoum). Hamid
stated that the SPLM has struggled to transform itself from a
southern, African party to a diverse national party. Hamid stated
that remnants of an SPLM university affiliate, the African National
Front (a group that still limits its membership to southerners) has
not helped the SPLM's campaign to appeal to diverse ethnic and
geographic groups. Hamid stated that he has tried to resolve this
problem by establishing a new structure called the SPLM Student

KHARTOUM 00000381 002 OF 003


Coalition. According to Hamid, this body will bring together both
the ANF and other, non-ANF, SPLM student groups and should make the
SPLM more attractive to interested students. Hamid cautioned that
the 2009 elections could bring violence and Sudan could follow the
fate of Kenya, given "the NCP's attitude towards CPA
implementation."

SLM-NUR
- - - -
6. (SBU) On March 13, a 27 year-old Sudan Liberation Movement
(SLM-Nur) leader of Khartoum University and another 26 year-old
leader from Al-Zaim Al-Ansari University (AZA University) told
econoff that their SLM political activities on campus have led to
multiple detentions, torture, and continued harassment by Sudanese
police and security. (Note: Names and contact information of these
two SLM-students are available from post via siprnet communications.
End Note.)

7. (SBU) These contacts stated that there are approximately 250
students at the University of Khartoum and another 500 students at
Zaim Al-Azhari affiliated with SLM-Nur and its related political
bureau the United People's Front. These contacts stated that most
of the activities of SLM-Nur are underground, though they have
occasionally organized rallies and protests, largely in conjunction
with international events. The Khartoum U. SLM leader stated that
there is a "strong relationship" between the work of the rebels and
their student activities. "The rebels are responsible for the
revolution," said the Khartoum University SLM leader, "and we
respect them and try to support their work."

8. (SBU) Both contacts stated that during their last public event
in October 2007, forty SLM-Nur students were imprisoned,
interrogated, and tortured. The Khartoum University SLM leader
reported that he was detained for 16 days, and the AZA University
student leader said he was held for over two months. One of the
contacts reported that he was tortured during his detention and
subjected to burning, electrical shocks, whipping, and beatings with
a barbed stick. (He displayed to econoff several 4 inch scars on his
back and circular burn marks on his arm that he said were cigarette
burns.)

9. (SBU) These contacts stated that many university professors
double as politicians and intelligence officers. "If you are of the
same political party as these professors, you may be rewarded with
good grades, evaluations, and better opportunities," said one of the
contacts. The Khartoum University student leader reported that he
had not been able to take his last several exams because the
intelligence service consecutively detained him on his test dates.
"It is no coincidence that they detain me on my exam days. There is
coordination between the University administrators and the security
apparatus," he said.

TRENDS
- - - -
10. (SBU) On March 11, Mohamed Yusif the Minister of State for
Labor, an SPLM leader, and Professor of Social Anthropology,
University of Khartoum told econoff that student politics are not
what they used to be. Yusif stated that until 1989 university
campuses were a center of political activity. Political rallies and
discussions were frequent, crowds gathered to listen to speakers,
and walls were plastered with political manifestos and
announcements, said Yusif.

11. (SBU) Yusif stated that before the NCP came to dominate
Sudanese politics, students tended to gravitate either toward the
Muslim Brotherhood or the Communist Party. He stated that the
debate between these groups was usually open and civil and there was
little violence on the campuses. Since 1989, there has been
shrinking support for these two political extremes, and more
students have become moderate or politically apathetic. According
to Yusif, few students today are interested in or knowledgeable
about domestic political affairs and many know more about foreign
politics than Sudanese politics. Students are disillusioned with
their job prospects, preoccupied with personal affairs, and have a
low regard for the existing political parties, stated Yusif. Yusif
believes that student involvement in politics may rise again, but in
a different form. Previous political interest was centered on big
ideas, but renewed political participation will be based on
implementation of the CPA and what it means in concrete terms, such
as power sharing, wealth sharing, free elections, etc. According to
Yusif, political activity is most likely to grow among marginalized
groups, who may benefit from this new focus of politics.

12. (SBU) According to Yusif, membership in the NCP youth wing has
been shrinking. In his view, clever, ambitious students join the
NCP, because they know it is a route to secure their future after
they graduate, not because of ideological appeal. Yusif believes

KHARTOUM 00000381 003 OF 003


this actually discourages recruitment, because present members see
new members as potential competitors and want to keep the pool of
competition as small as possible.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON CAMPUS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. (SBU) Yusif also noted the rising amount of political violence
on campus. Although the number of politically active students has
decreased, they have become increasingly extreme. In his view, many
of these students view the world and politics in black and white
terms and have no tolerance for opposing views. Yusif said that
political disputes frequently lead to bloodshed and this probably
discourages the average student further from becoming involved.

14. (SBU) SLM and NCP contacts also commented on the recent March
9 violence at Omdurman Islamic University. The SLM-Nur contacts
stated stated that they participated in the SLM gathering at
Omdurman Islamic University. According to them, two NCP students
had handguns that they fired into the air provoking their meagerly
armed group of SLM students with sticks, knives, and Molotov
cocktails. The NCP's Al-Awad had a differing account of the March 9
events, saying that the SLM-Nur group instigated the fighting by
promoting their office in Israel, supporting Denmark against the
Sudanese boycott, and even publicly insulting the holiest places of
Islam. Al-Awad predicted that violence will not spread to other
universities, but that "outside forces will try to exploit
universities for their own purposes."

COMMENT
- - - -
15. (SBU) The NCP's student leader appeared to be the most
knowledgeable, articulate, and prepared of all the party
representatives and is likely a testament to the NCP's emphasis on
developing its new cadre of leaders. The University of Khartoum's
student elections provide one example of a strategy (albeit a risky
one) that the SPLM and opposition groups could employ in 2009.
Opposition groups could attack the NCP's lack of Islamic piety,
encourage more stalwart Islamic groups to break away from it, and
attempt to fracture the conservative Islamic vote. Undoubtedly the
NCP recognizes this vulnerability, and has subsequently attempted to
frame itself as the only Islamic party in Sudan. Organizing large
anti-Danish cartoon rallies, repeatedly denouncing Israel and
SLM-Nur's opening of an office in Tel Aviv, and continuing to use
strong inflammatory religious language are just a few recent
examples of the NCP's religious propaganda aimed at securing its
political base. Yusif's comments about the level of political
activity on university campuses, previously considered forces for
political change in Sudan (and the source of student activism that
brought the current NCP regime to power) are especially intriguing.
The NCP obviously recognizes the value of student support in
aggressively pursuing university election victories, while
simultaneously stomping out alternate political voices. This is
another clear sign that the NCP is planning for national elections,
and plans to win by any means.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC