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Cablegate: Idps Reject Participation in the Census and Elections

VZCZCXRO6265
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0389/01 0761540
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161540Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0221
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000389

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E WILLIAMSON, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KEDEM PREF SU
SUBJECT: IDPS REJECT PARTICIPATION IN THE CENSUS AND ELECTIONS

REFS: A. KHARTOUM 384

B. KHARTOUM 382
C. KHARTOUM 372

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The native administration of sheikhs and umdas in
Darfur say that IDPs will not participate in the census nor the
elections. They believe that the time is not right to conduct a
census or the elections due to the massive displacement of the
people of Darfur. Additionally, they describe GoS intimidation of
IDPs in the camps and, based on recent incidents, fear that the GoS
is planning further violence against the Fur. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In a 13 March meeting in El Fasher, four Fur umdas (all
supporters of the SLM's Abdul Wahid Nur) from Abu Shouk Camp told
poloff that neither they, nor their communities inside the camp,
will participate in the upcoming census. The head umda of Abu
Shouk, who hails from Kutum locality, as well as three other umdas,
two from Tawila and one from Jebel Si, were insistent that peace,
stability, and the return of IDPs to their homes take place before
the census and elections are carried out.

---------------------------
NO REASON TO PARTICIPATE
---------------------------
3. (SBU) After profusely thanking the USG for its humanitarian
support to IDPs and on getting the "real message" on Darfur out to
the international community, a younger, energetic umda from Tawila
acknowledged that a census is important in advance of elections in
order to know the true population. He also said a census should
enable the government to provide sufficient services for the
population. However, he explained that a census should not take
place when so many people across Darfur are displaced. He said that
IDPs are not receiving any services from the GoS in the camps, only
from NGOs. An older umda from Jebel Si chimed in and said that the
GoS has made no effort to provide services for the elderly, orphans,
or widows. He questioned the rationale for the census - if most
Darfuris are displaced and the GoS does not provide them with
services now, why would the GoS be inclined to provide them with
services after the census? The IDPs do not see themselves
benefiting from a census; therefore they have no interest in
participating in one. He made it clear that they (the native
administration) "are not ready to participate with this government
now."

4. (SBU) North Darfur Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) government
workers recently approached the native administration of sheikhs and
umdas at Abu Shouk and other camps about participating in the census
(ref A). IDP community leaders told GoS staff that IDPs will not
participate in the census. According to the head umda of Abu Shouk,
the CBS responded by saying that IDPs are "insignificant" and
"unimportant." The CBS went on to tell the native administration
that the GoS will use the 1993 census data for Darfur and adjust it
to the current year in order to get results for Darfur. The umdas
reiterated that the census must only take place during a time of
peace and resettlement. [Note: During the conversation, the head
umda for Abu Shouk received a phone call from a colleague in the
camp who said that CBS enumerators had entered the camp. The umda,
quite concerned and angered, asked what the CBS staff was doing
there and sternly told his colleague not to participate in their
activities. End note.]

------------------------------
GOS, SAF INTIMIDATION OF IDPS
------------------------------
5. (SBU) The young umda from Tawila said that daily military
operations in the camp by GoS forces do not create a conducive
environment for the census. The umdas said that the SAF routinely
fire their weapons at night in order to intimidate and harass the
IDPs and show them who is in charge. One umda said that the GoS is
trying to decrease the presence of NGOs in the camps. He said that
the Spanish Red Cross, for example, is moving out of Abu Shouk next
month (their contract with the Sudanese Red Crescent was not
renewed). "This scares us (IDPs)," he said, "because we do not
trust the GoS." Children in the camps are frightened and adults
have fled out of the camp to the neighboring Abu Shouk residential
area for cover. The umdas said that the Sudanese Red Crescent is
taking other NGOs' supplies and distributing them. They claimed
this is a way to further control the IDPs by selectively choosing
whether to dole out or withhold materials. The umdas also complained
that GoS and DPA signatories (SLM Mini Minawi) are trying to force
people to leave the camps. Poloff asked what role UNAMID forces in
the camps had to play in abating this violence and intimidation by
the SAF. One umda said, "UNAMID refuses to deal with the GoS inside
the camps." UNAMID is not playing an effective role; it does not
meet with the IDPs or get information from them, the umda said.
"UNAMID is AMIS. All they did was switch to blue berets," remarked
one umda.

KHARTOUM 00000389 002 OF 002

--------------------------------------------- --------
WALI OF NORTH DARFUR CALLS FOR JIHAD AGAINST THE FUR
--------------------------------------------- --------
6. (SBU) Umdas said that on 10 March the Wali of North Darfur burned
a picture of the SLA's Abdul Wahid and held a funeral service for
him in the middle of town in response to Abdul Wahid's opening of an
SLA/A office in Tel Aviv. According to the umdas, the Wali made a
declaration of war against the Fur, calling for "jihad against the
Fur" and discrediting the tribe's Islamic convictions (note: one
would not declare Jihad or holy war against fellow Muslims). The
umdas said this scares them and remarked, "The war has just begun."
Umdas said these events have produced a "new stage" of IDP animosity
against the GoS. The community leaders again asked the question,
how can the GoS expect IDPs to accept the census and the elections
when the local government is carrying out such acts?

7. (SBU) In a word of support for Abdul Wahid Nur, the umdas claimed
that he represents every person who has been removed from his land
in Darfur and praised him for opening an office in Tel Aviv to
support his followers there. They said what they appreciate most is
that he relays the message of what is really happening in the camps
to the rest of the world.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The IDP leadership's refusal to participate in the
census comes as no surprise. Although the GoS has routinely denied
it, there has been talk for months that IDPs would resist the
census. The interviews conducted for this cable solidifies that
assessment. Given the time constraints (the census is less than one
month away), this resistance is unlikely to wither and the census in
Darfur will likely not happen as intended. In order to avoid the
same crisis in the elections, the USG and other international
partners should seek to encourage highly skeptical Darfuris
regarding the importance of democratic elections for the
transformation of Sudan, so that they do not further marginalize
themselves (and actually help their victimizers in the NCP).
Embassy's proposals on policy and preparations for elections will
follow septel.

FERNANDEZ

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