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Cablegate: Usg Strategy for Success of the Sudanese Census

VZCZCXRO1181
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0422/01 0810855
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210855Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0272
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000422

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: USG STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS OF THE SUDANESE CENSUS

REF: A. KHARTOUM 399
B. KHARTOUM 389
C. KHARTOUM 384
D. KHARTOUM 382
E. KHARTOUM 361

1. (SBU) Summary: As long feared by the international community,
multiple problems with conducting the census across the South and in
Darfur have surfaced in recent weeks, leading to the risk of a
serious undercount in these areas and a widespread perception that
the census will be inaccurate. Now is the time for the USG to
increase pressure on the GoS to follow through with its commitments
and encourage people to participate in the census in order to
preserve the validity of the CPA. End Summary.

---------------------
PROBLEMS IN DARFUR
---------------------
2. (SBU) With less than a month before Sudan's national census is to
take place, a plethora of serious issues has surfaced which will
affect the conduct and outcome of the census, particularly in South
Sudan and Darfur. If the USG acts now to engage the GoS on a number
of these issues, it may help to mitigate problems with the census
and set a more successful stage for Sudan's 2009 elections. This
cable proposes detailed steps to address this issue before it is too
late and outlines a follow up strategy should the census not turn
out as well as it should - a distinct possibility.

3. (SBU) In Darfur, there is a dire need for advocacy on the census
- what it is, how it can benefit the population and how it
influences regions' power and wealth-sharing at the national level.
There is also a need to set straight the record on how the census
feeds into elections. There is a common misperception that if one
does not participate in the census, he/she will not be able to vote
in the elections. Neither the CPA nor the Interim National
Constitution (INC) links the national elections directly with the
outcome of the population census. In other words, the completion of
the census is - from the perspective of the CPA/INC - not an
explicit prerequisite for the conduct of the national elections.
Voter registration will dictate who can vote in the elections and
when the National Electoral Commission is created, it will set out
rules and regulations on the voter registration process. Because
the CPA and the INC are relatively silent on the issue of voter
registration, the false idea that the census dictates who can vote
in 2009 has gained momentum. The USG needs to help the GoS debunk
this myth.

4. (SBU) Because there is a lack of understanding about the census,
there is widespread skepticism and outright rejection of
participation in the census in Darfur. Opposition parties such as
Umma, SLA/Minni Minnawi, and DUP, as well as IDPs, the native
administration, and students say that they will not participate in
the census. Negative feelings about the census are fueled by a
misunderstanding of the census, but also the feeling that peace and
stability must return to Darfur before a normal course of democratic
practices, such as the census and elections, can go forward. Many
Darfuris are also concerned that the supposed influx of Chadian
Arabs into Darfur will skew census data and show that the lands once
occupied by IDPs are now home to a whole different group. If major
groups in Darfur do not participate, it will lead to an undercount
of the region, thus impacting Darfur's political representation in
the Parliament and wealth-sharing figures.

5. (SBU) A panicky North Darfur Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)
office has said that there are major logistical challenges to the
GoS' ability conduct the census in Darfur. Not only will GoS
enumerators not be allowed access to IDP camps and rebel areas to
conduct the census, the GoS seems to lack a plan for enumeration in
these areas. This is largely due to the CBS Head Office in
Khartoum, through Director Abdeen, refusing to acknowledge that the
GoS will have any problems - logistically or security-wise - in
carrying out the census in Darfur. As of last week, the North
Darfur CBS office cited that there is no way to get census
questionnaires from Khartoum to the states and thereafter,
localities. Although the CBS Head Office is requesting UNMIS and
UNAMID help in the transportation of these materials, neither has
confirmed their support for the process. Local enumerators in North
Darfur will also face lack of security support and communication
tools (satellite phones), according to the CBS.

----------------------------
MAJOR PROBLEM IN THE SOUTH
----------------------------
6. (SBU) In the South, there is an insufficient number of
questionnaires to cover the existing number of households.
Moreover, as IDPs and refugees return to the South in advance of

KHARTOUM 00000422 002 OF 003


census enumeration, there are no excess forms that can be used in
the case of returns or emergencies. Although the Southern Sudan
Center for the Census and Statistical Evaluation (SSCCSE) has
requested on several occasions that the CBS grant the South more
questionnaires, the CBS has denied these requests. The
questionnaire shortage will cap the population of the South to an
artificial ceiling, thus leading to an undercount.

------------------------------
PROBLEMS ON A NATIONAL SCALE
------------------------------
7. (U) An issue that affects the entire country - the GoS has not
yet released the promised USD 18 million to the CBS. The USD 18
million is necessary to pay enumerators. If this funding does not
materialize, there will be a serious issue at the end of April when
enumerators expect to be paid.

8. (SBU) There will be no independent monitors observing census
enumeration or data processing. Although the Carter Center tried to
deploy an independent census monitoring effort, it was unsuccessful
in getting permission from the GNU to carry out an autonomous
mission separate from the government-run Monitoring and Observation
Committee (MOC)(ref E). This means that there will only be one
voice publicly commenting on the conduct and results of the census
(whether it is free and fair) - and that voice is the government's.

----------------------
PROPOSALS TO THE GOS
----------------------
9. (SBU) In order to mitigate the damage that will result from so
many looming pitfalls, we recommend that the USG take the following
actions immediately:

A. Demarche the GoS on public relations problems it will encounter
if the census is viewed as inaccurate and/or manipulated;

B. Urge the GoS to adopt immediately a strategy for enumeration in
IDP camps, and to assure Darfuris that IDPs will be counted;

C. Urge the GoS to release the USD 18 million in census funds that
is being withheld;

D. Urge the CBS to release the appropriate number of questionnaires
(including extra forms for repatriation/emergency cases) to South
Sudan, making the point that there should be extra forms, not a
shortage;

E. Encourage the GoS to allow independent international observers to
monitor census enumeration and data processing, lest the result be
criticized as skewed and manipulated, setting a bad precedent for
elections;

F. Urge the GoS to allow observers to monitor census data
processing, which the US is willing provide if allowed;

G. Fund the printing of additional forms needed for South Sudan if
the MOC will accept this;

H. Encourage UNMIS and UNAMID to assist the CBS in distributing
census material from Khartoum to states and localities;

I. Encourage UNAMID to help CBS enumerators negotiate access to IDP
camps;

J. Encourage UNFPA to request more census advocacy support from
UNMIS/UNAMID and for UNMIS/UNAMID to provide this support [NOTE:
Only 8 weeks ago UNFPA approached UNMIS to provide support for
census advocacy. UNMIS has provided census awareness campaigns on
Radio Miraya and has distributed the same material to local stations
in Darfur to transmit. Additionally, they are creating a promo on
the census that is due to air next week in the South. They are
trying to negotiate with the GNU to allow the promo to also air on
Sudan TV. End note].

---------------------------
AND IF IT GOES BADLY . . .
---------------------------
10. (SBU) If the South and Darfur are undercounted and census
results are flawed or manipulated, the USG needs to be prepared to
make a statement that elections can go forward without the census,
but that the experience with the census shows that preparations for
elections must begin immediately and international observers must be
allowed (see para 3 above). Additionally, the USG should urge
UNMIS, as the UNSC-mandated body to provide electoral assistance to
the GoS in the 2009 elections, to step up pressure on the GoS to
ratify the electoral law and establish a National Electoral

KHARTOUM 00000422 003 OF 003


Commission. Electoral preparation, which is crucial one year out
from elections, can only take place if basic legal and
organizational foundations are in place. In order to avoid
potential election pitfalls, the international community needs to
get its act together sooner rather than later and pressure the GoS
to prepare early, inform widely, and deliver on time.

FERNANDEZ

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