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Cablegate: Agreement May Be Near On Elections Law

VZCZCXRO8301
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0407 0780727
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180727Z MAR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0250
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000407

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF S/E WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM EAID SU
SUBJECT: AGREEMENT MAY BE NEAR ON ELECTIONS LAW

1. (SBU) The SPLM in Juba currently is considering an NCP/SPLM
compromise on the National Elections Law, according to SPLM
S-ecretary General and GNU Minister of Cabinet Affairs Pagan Amum.
The compromise draft, worked out between Vice President Ali Osman
Taha, National Congress Party Assessment and Evaluation Commission
representative (and Navaisha negotiator) Mohamed Moktar el Hassan,
GNU Presidential Advisor Nafie Ali Nafie, SPLM Secretary General
Pagan Amum and SPLM Deputy Secretary General Yasir Arman, would end
the multi-month impasse over the draft law which initially was to
have been submitted to the National Assembly in October 2007. Amum
tabled a non-paper on the compromise to the SPLM Interim Political
Bureau (IPB) on March 16, and told ConGen Juba PolOff the same day
that he expected full IPB approval by week's end.

2. (SBU) Although disappointed with the need to compromise on what
they believe was an SPLM position that was both rational and
favorable to Northern opposition parties, SG Amum and other senior
SPLM leaders have grown weary of what they term "continued NCP stall
tactics" on elections. According to Amum, the compromise position
was driven by an SPLM decision to force the issue of Sudan's
democratic transformation by "making the timely contest of elections
inevitable."

3. (SBU) Amum estimated that elections will be possible by "May or
June of 2009 at the latest." He admitted, however, that neither
party has a sense of who should be on the National Elections
Commission - the neutral oversight body charged with the creation
and implementation of the bulk of the Sudanese electoral legislative
and policy infrastructure. (COMMENT: Speedy NEC formation is
essential, as the CPA mandates that Sudan have six levels of
elections by July 2009. While the CPA's wording is ambiguous, the
international community and Sudanese political establishment are
operating under the assumption that polling will occur and ballots
cast for each level on the same day. NEC establishment, policy
formulation and implementation will have to be fast-paced in order
to meet such a deadline. END COMMENT.)

4. (SBU) The joint proposal tabled by Amum before the IPB contains
compromises on each of the four remaining contentious points of the
draft law: it defines the mixed electoral system (direct and
proportional), establishes percentage lists for women and "others"
(independent candidates) and resolves the question of state-level
versus national level constituencies. The proposal holds that 55
percent of the seats within the National Assembly would be contested
by party candidates in geographical constituencies below the state
level using the first-past-the post system of elections. If agreed
to by the SPLM, this would mean that 45 percent of the National
Assembly seats would be filled via proportional representation.

5. (SBU) The compromise represents a 5 percent sacrifice by both
parties with respect to their original 50/50 (SPLM) and 60/40 (NCP)
demands. The proposed compromise does not address the question of
minimum thresholds required to gain representation in any assembly.
It does, however, specify that there is to be a 25 percent set-aside
for women, contested at the national level as a closed party list.
Similarly, a 20 percent set-aside also at the national level has
been established for independents - an SPLM trade-off with the NCP
in exchange for a dedicated women's list.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: While the forward momentum on the slow in coming
national elections law is promising, establishing geographical
electoral constituencies below the state-level will be problematic
in the absence of a clearly defined North/South border and continued
tribal tensions in the South and outright conflict in some areas of
Darfur. Some observers from Juba's diplomatic corps believe that
the potential for conflict over constituency delineation could delay
elections, and the SPLM will have to work hard to overcome theseDo!.

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