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Cablegate: Splm Deputy Secretary General Opens Darfur Offices

VZCZCXRO7842
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0584/01 1061218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151218Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0568
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0159
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0029
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000584

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, DRL
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL OPENS DARFUR OFFICES


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: SPLM Deputy Secretary General Yassir Arman
announced the establishment of a SPLM political office for North
Darfur on April 12. Local government leaders, including the Wali of
North Darfur, opposition parties' representatives, NCP members, and
rebel groups such as JEM/Peace Wing and SLA/Minni Minawi were
present. Yassir touted the SPLM's "New Sudan" vision and promised
the SPLM would bring economic development to Darfur. He carried out
similar outreach in West Darfur. END SUMMARY.

SPLM OFFERS DARFURIANS A NEW SUDAN
----------------------------------
2. (U) During a well-received 45-minute address in El Fasher, Yassir
commented on both regional and local issues. He emphasized that the
Chad-Sudan conflict must be permanently solved to ensure stability
in Darfur. Yassir also announced the SPLM's plans for a national
convention in May and invited all Darfurians to attend the
conference and present their views.

3. (U) Championing SPLM's vision of a "New Sudan", Yassir explained
that the SPLM proposes to use oil revenues to develop pastoral and
agricultural sectors of Darfur's economy and fund protection of
IDPs. On the health front, he said that the SPLM will work with
local organizations to eradicate HIV/AIDS through seminars,
workshops and awareness campaigns. He stated that the SPLM is
committed to the CPA and will work to build upon it as part of the
New Sudan. He emphasized that both the NCP and the SPLM have a
responsibility to work together on developing solutions to the
Darfur conflict and have developed a joint NCP-SPLM working group on
the issue.

4. (U) Noting that Darfur has suffered cultural, economic and
political marginalization, Yassir charged that the NCP should
respect past agreements and consider re-establishing Darfur as one
region. He criticized the NCP for not being realistic about IDP
voluntary returns, noting that "this cannot take place without
security and stability in the area."


SPLM ON THE CENSUS IN DARFUR AND OTHER PLANS
--------------------------------------------
5. (SBU) In response to poloff's question whether he would attempt
to convince Darfurians to support the upcoming census, Yassir blamed
the NCP for lying about the census, which he claimed has led many
IDPs to reject it. Asked whether the SPLM would directly appeal to
Darfurians to participate in the census, Yassir said that a direct
statement of support will do little good, as it will take time for
the SPLM to undo the lies that the NCP has spread about the census.
(NOTE: At the time of this dedication, the SPLM had not yet
announced its suspension of the census in the South. The SPLM and
the NCP have worked out their differences over the census and both
parties will move forward with the census on 22 April. END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) Yassir told poloff that while in Darfur he would press both
signatory and non-signatory groups to
advance the Darfur peace process and make preparations
for a Juba II meeting. He pointed to the attendance of
JEM/Peace Wing and SLM/Minni Minawi at the ceremony as evidence of
rebel support for the SPLM's effort to promote peace in Darfur.

7. (SBU) Arman told CDA Fernandez in Khartoum on April 15 that he
had also visited the West Darfur capital of El-Geneina. He had found
a very receptive audience (including the local Fur Governor, who
heads an SLM former rebel splinter group), had held a mass rally,
and had sworn in new local leaders. Yassir said that even pro-NCP
figures are chafing at the lack of security, the rumors of Arab
refugees from Chad and Niger being resettled in the state (which he
believes may be overstated), and just the general difficulty of life
in West Darfur. He described one pro-NCP tribal leader who quoted
the Arab proverb "the husband of my mother is my father" to show
that most leaders in the area are not enamored of the regime but
feel they have to go along with it in order to survive.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: It is a positive development that the SPLM is
beginning to regularly send someone of Yassir's stature in the SPLM
to Darfur and these visits should occur more frequently (his last
trip there was over a year ago). The SPLM needs to include Darfur
in its pro-active strategy to pressure the Khartoum regime, and
build wider coalitions, and should reach out more regularly to the
movements and the people in Darfur. A Jaalayn from River Nile State
and former Communist in his youth (he also hails from the same tribe
as President Bashir, with whom Yassir has a distant family
connection) Yassir represents an alternative viewpoint of opposition
within the North, which appeals to Darfurians and which the SPLM
should take advantage of more regularly.

9. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

KHARTOUM 00000584 002 OF 002

FERNANDEZ

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