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Cablegate: Sla/Mm Students to Launch Campaigns Against the Census

VZCZCXRO6893
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0399/01 0771233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171233Z MAR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0241
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000399

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 PREF PHUM SU
SUBJECT: SLA/MM STUDENTS TO LAUNCH CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE CENSUS

REFS: A. KHARTOUM 383

B. KHARTOUM 381
C. KHARTOUM 372

-------
SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) SLA/Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM) student supporters reject the
census and are organizing campaigns against it at universities in
Darfur as well as in SLA/MM political offices. Regarding university
politics, the students described NCP harassment including freezing
of student body elections at El Fasher University - which leaves the
institution without a student body government. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
SLA/MM STUDENTS TO LAUNCH CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE CENSUS
--------------------------------------------- ---------
2. (SBU) On 12 March, four SLA/MM university students and graduates
along with an SLA/MM party rep told poloff that the time is not
right for a census in Darfur. They claimed that they would use
their control over the student body at the University of El Fasher
to spread the word about boycotting the census and would launch
campaigns against it. The students said they intend to use their
university colleagues to "carry the message" to the Darfuri populace
about not participating and pledged to have weekly forums at the
university and at their SLA/MM office in order to get their message
out.

3. (SBU) The students echoed sentiments that are widespread across
Darfur - the census cannot go forward given the instability of
Darfur and the number of people who are displaced. One student
explained that the population of Darfur has historically been 6
million, but it is currently less because of the number of refugees
and displaced. They explained the importance of the census to
determining wealth and power-sharing at a national level and
proposed postponing the census until security in Darfur improves and
people return to their villages. They outlined the problems with
conducting the census in Darfur: a) armed movements in many areas
will not allow census enumerators to move around freely and b) the
number of refugees in Chad, Central African Republic, Ghana and
other locations will lead to an inaccurate count of the true
population of Darfur. An inaccurate census will lead to "greater
conflict and more fighting", they said.

--------------
ON ELECTIONS
--------------
4. (SBU) The SLA/MM students said that their movement does not
accept the draft electoral law because it does respect nor promote
equality among parties. They said that having a census and
elections now is "meaningless" for the people in Darfur and
predicted that after elections, Sudan will suffer a violent fall-out
like the one that besieged Kenya. They claimed that the SLA/MM is
organized and ready to participate in elections, but will not do so
because the GoS is forcing both an undemocratic census and elections
on the people of Sudan. One student said that if the GoS were to
commit itself to implementing the DPA, SLA/MM would be more willing
to participate in elections. The students claimed that 95 percent
of Darfuris support SLA/MM and said that the movement is not
"intimidated by the elections." If the SLA/MM were to participate,
the students claimed the movement would win Darfur. However their
official stance is to call for a delay of the elections. (Comment:
The students' assertion that the vast majority of Darfurians support
Minawi's faction - which is clearly not the case - calls into
question the credibility of their other statements. End Comment.)

-----------------------------
EL FASHER UNIVERSITY POLITICS
-----------------------------
5. (SBU) When discussing politics at the University of El Fasher,
one student pulled out stacks of forms registering students as
SLA/MM supporters. Although the student body is 6000, the student
claimed that only 1500 students are politically active and out of
that 1500, 1000 are SLA/MM supporters. The other 500
politically-active students mostly support the SPLM, Umma or the
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). They said that the NCP has a small
number of supporters at the University of El Fasher. The students
said that the SLA/MM has a substantial following at the University
of Nyala and University of Zalengei as well. They claimed that
Sudanese National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) personnel
routinely arrest and torture SLA/MM students at universities across
Darfur and Kordofan. They explained that just two months ago, the
SLA/MM student group at the University of Nyala held a forum where
they discussed the DPA. SLA/MM students were subsequently arrested
and detained by NISS. Some were not allowed to re-enroll in the
University. The students claimed that other political party student
groups have forums at the universities but do not suffer the same

KHARTOUM 00000399 002 OF 002


treatment.

6. (SBU) The University of El Fasher student said that the GoS
constantly monitors the student political groups at that university
and seeks to derail coalitions between opposition parties. There
are 30 students elected to the student government at the University
of El Fasher, but the school has not had elections since the year
2000 and therefore has no student government in place. The students
explained that the NCP intentionally freezes elections at
universities if they believe that opposition parties will win. The
NCP has also been known to rig elections at some universities in
order to win the majority of the student government seats. The
students said that opposition party coalitions are normal at
universities, but that the NCP student group does not coalesce with
other groups - as the NCP wants to have a strict majority.

7. (SBU) At the University of El Fasher, SLA/MM has established a
coalition with the SPLM, New Sudan Forces, and independents. The
students claimed that the NCP attracts student voters by giving away
mobile phones and other hot commodities. The students explained
that it is a stigma for students to be aligned with the NCP, so they
will only align with the NCP when there is a financial incentive to
do so. In some cases, the NCP will offer to pay tuition fees or
other expenses for students if they register as NCP. [NOTE: One
student said that at a university in Blue Nile State, elections have
been frozen for 13 years. Additionally, two students were not
allowed to graduate for two years because of their involvement with
opposition party functions. END NOTE.]

8. (SBU) The University of El Fasher student said that the GoS uses
tactics of terrorism to intimidate students at his university. Just
one year ago, the Sudanese police stormed into the girls' dorm and
harassed female university students. He said that the SAF is
present at the University of El Fasher and has heavy weaponry inside
the university campus. This is a tactic that the GoS uses to
intimidate students into not supporting student opposition parties
and rallies. "The NCP knows that a majority of Sudanese citizens
oppose them, therefore they must apply tactics of intimidation and
fear in order to stay in power," said one student.

-------
Comment
-------
9. (SBU) The NCP's strategies for keeping a tight hold on university
politics seem to be the same throughout the country - harassment,
alleged torture, arrest, and bribery (ref B). University politics
in Darfur are even more contentious than in other regions of the
country due to the current conflict and political situation in the
region. Although the NCP cannot strong-arm and quash all rebel
movements in the area, it maintains an overwhelmingly militaristic
and intimidating presence in the universities, where it manages to
stamp out alternative views through shutting down political forums,
freezing elections, and keeping students from re-enrolling or
graduating.

9. (SBU) The SLA/MM students echoed the political statements made by
their leader Minni Minawi on the census - that it should not go
forward given the situation of displacement and insecurity in
Darfur. The students are using their student supporters to speak
out against participation in the census and to hold university
forums rejecting census participation. Although the general
population of Darfur rejects having a census at this time, this move
signals that it is not only the older population (especially the
native administration) that rejects the census, but the younger
population whose feelings follow closely behind.

-------------------
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
-------------------
10. (SBU) Of the students we spoke with, one is the Secretary
General of SLA/MM at El Fasher University, the second is a graduate
of the University of Bakht Al Ruda (150 km South Khartoum), the
third and fourth students are graduates of the University of Imam Al
Mahadi in Jezera Abba (near to Kosti). The party rep is Ahmed
Hassan Bahar who represents SLA/MM in the North Darfur Legislative
Council. End note.]

FERNANDEZ

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