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Cablegate: Ncp Leader Toes the Party Line

VZCZCXRO6267
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0390 0761541
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161541Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0223
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000390

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NCP LEADER TOES THE PARTY LINE


1. (SBU) On Sunday, March 16, CDA Fernandez met with Retired Maj.
Gen. Al Fatih Abdoun (and former Governor of Khartoum) in his
Khartoum home. Known as a flexible and moderate leader, Abdoun
assisted in creating the military support that brought President Al-
Bashir to power in his 1989 coup. Abdoun is now a member of the
Shura (Advisory) council within the National Congress Party, and
claims influence with Al-Bashir and the upper cadre of Sudanese
leaders.

2. (SBU) During the 90-minute meeting, Abdoun repeatedly brought up
the subject of improved relations with the United States. He said
any agreement would require a balance of Sudanese and American
demands, but also acknowledged that the time frame for any agreement
was running short. Abdoun described Sudan's leadership as
"terrified" of changes a new administration might bring in
U.S.-Sudanese relations, as anything signed today may be reversed in
2009. Abdoun claimed that Sudan will accept any measures required by
the U.S., provided they preserve Sudan's sovereignty and religion.
CDA countered that the U.S. has no interest in interfering with
religion in Sudan.

3. (SBU) Abdoun hewed very closely to the National Congress Party's
public line. Darfur rebel Abdul Wahid Nur is "no longer Sudanese"
but the puppet of foreign powers, including Israel. Rebels in Darfur
are "terrorists" and their actions anywhere else would be condemned
by the U.S. Sudan's human rights record is better than that of most
of its neighbors and most regimes in the Arab world (the majority of
which are allies of the US). IDPs in Darfur have nothing to complain
about. The NCP is the best government in Sudanese history (this may
be true but there is not much competition) and has provided
unusually good government to the Sudanese people. Sudan is
categorically not helping Chadian rebels at all in their efforts to
overthrow President Deby.

4. (SBU) Retired Maj. Gen. Abdoun offered insight into the mindset
of Sudan's old guard, expressing nostalgia for a mythic past
positive of U.S.-Sudan relations while expressing an impossibly rosy
view of Sudan's actions and history. Yet while Abdoun has pledged to
speak to current NCP leaders, including the president, his influence
is most likely quite limited. While Abdoun, not surprisingly,
refused to express any criticism of a regime he helped create, he
did admit that Sudan has done a terrible job of presenting its views
and reality to the outside world, "a plan was presented to them, but
they didn't move on it."

FERNANDEZ

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