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Cablegate: Alleged Assassination Attempt Against Lam Akol Debunked

VZCZCXRO5146
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0448 0861430
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261430Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0313
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000448

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: ALLEGED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST LAM AKOL DEBUNKED
1. (SBU) An accidental encounter between cattle-rustlers and a
motorcade convoy belonging to former Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam
Akol has sparked a press battle of conspiracy theories and alleged

assassination plots. Media spin to date has cleaved along "true
SPLM" and "former SPLM" lines, with ousted party member (and former
GNU minister) Telar Deng actively asserting an attempt was made on
Lam Akol's life. No such theory has been borne out as a result of
NISS, UNMIS, or SPLA inquiries to date, although the story continues
to get media play given its "convenient fit" with the internal
politics of Upper Nile State. SPLM leaders dismiss any
characterization of the incident as an "attack," and posit this is
nothing more than Akol trying to generate the state's sympathy vote.

2. (SBU) Akol, a rival of SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum an "NCP
turncoat" fighting for his political life within the SPLM, skipped
the Interim Political Bureau meeting in Juba to personally campaign
for the selection of delegates representing his wing of the party
during Boma-level and county-level SPLM congresses in Upper Nile
state this past weekend. His multi-car convoy came under fire as it
traveled southeast from Malakal to Mamoajak, although it appears
that Akol was not traveling with the convoy when it was attacked.
Two members of the traveling party were killed instantly and a third
succumbed to his wounds one day later. The convoy was carrying
delegates loyal to Lam Akol to county-level party congresses outside
of the state capital. Both the NISS and the SPLA had officers in
the convoy, and NISS/Juba and the SPLA later confirmed to ConGen
staff that they lost officers during the attack.
3. (SJU) agan!Amum told"CgnGe stagv"Marcl`24 |hatDam A{ol*rexmrxdhy tohQSQLB`Eaff,of"3d`fh!OymcQgg'Afk%4| :M QaqxjxQQQkn$4lsjw.kb)r`hlQ.Yi,n(pqmC*t-x,7ae, 1hoQDQZ.axQeTbQt the woman had made "vigorous
attempts" to warn Akol's staffers about "large numbers of cattle and
men on the road ahead, and the potential dangers." NISS/Juba told
ConGen staff on March 25 that they were skeptical of the
assassination claim, noting that the former minister's travel
schedule "would not have been something well known." UNMIS officials
in Malakal, to include UN DSS, told ConGen PolOff they believe the
incident was "purely accidental."
4. (SBU) Strong skepticism by observers and the SPLM alike has not
dampened Akol's or Telar Deng's enthusiasm for fueling sensational
reports. Akol has since claimed publicly that he was in the car,
and has named Amum and Upper Nile author and GNU Council of States
member Peter Aduok Nyaba as complicit in the attack. Nyaba laughed
when queried about the claim, "Lam is orchestrating his political
death on his own, why would I participate in his physical one?"
Upper Nile State will send 71 delegates to the SPLM National
Convention in May, 40 of which will be chosen through balloting
during county-level congresses. Pagan Amum told ConGen staff March
25 that Akol had failed to place any of his faction's adherents into
county-level Chairman slots. Akol's delegates subsequently walked
out of three different county conventions when their attempts
failed.
5. (SBU) Comment: Lam Akol has been conspiring and successfully
maneuvering divisions within the Shilluk Kingdom in Upper Nile state
since his ouster from Khartoum politics. The former minister's
setbacks during this past weekend's county-level congresses,
however, appear to have been mitigated by a precipitous, accidental
encounter with cattle rustlers that he will undoubtedly continue to
play up through the May SPLM National Convention.
FERNANDEZ

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