Cablegate: South Sudan Opposition Politician On the Census and Goss

DE RUEHKH #0613/01 1120537
P 210537Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

Refs: A. Khartoum 604
B. Khartoum 575
C. Khartoum 566

1. (SBU) Summary: South Sudan parliamentarian and opposition
leader Dr. Jimmy Wongo believes that the GoSS's last-minute attempt
to delay the census in the South has only made it look foolish and
indecisive. Wongo said that he expects the NCP to manipulate census
results to undercount the South's population, but that the GoSS
could have minimized this threat had it focused on the census
earlier. He said GoSS President Kiir deserves praise for having
achieved stability in the South following the death of John Garang,
but that since then he assessed Kiir as often indecisive, isolated,
and unable to hold cabinet ministers accountable for incompetence
and corruption. End Summary.

Census Indecision
- - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) On April 18, Juba Conoffs called on Dr. Jimmy Wongo, a
Member of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) from the Union
of Sudan African Parties (USAP) and Chairman of the SSLA's Public
Accounts Committee. Dr. Wongo was very critical of the handling of
the Sudan census by the leadership of the GoSS and the SPLM. Within
the space of a few days, he noted, GoSS President Salva Kiir had
spoken publicly in support of the census, then the GoSS Council of
Ministers had voted to postpone it, followed by an agreement with
Khartoum to delay census-taking by one week, to which the Council of
Ministers agreed while at the same time issuing a statement that it
reserves the right to disagree with the results (reftels). All this
has made the GoSS appear indecisive and ineffectual, without
improving the quality of census enumeration. Wongo said the GoSS
has put the spotlight on its own actions, rather than on the conduct
of the census and the NCP.

Worst of All Possible Worlds?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Wongo said he personally supports the inclusion of
questions on ethnicity and religion in the census, but that the GoSS
had only itself to blame for the absence of the questions on the
questionnaire. GoSS Minister of Cabinet Affairs Luka Manoja signed
off on final content of questionnaires and provided the Presidency
in Khartoum with the authority to go forward with printing. Wongo
charged that the GoSS Council of Ministers failed to take the census
seriously until too late and now it is paying the price. It would
have been better to have stuck with the original April 15 date, or
else delayed it until the problems could be corrected. Now the GoSS
has maneuvered itself into the worst possible situation.

4. (SBU) GG Datta asked Wongo if he thinks that the GoSS is backing
away from the census because it fears it would disprove the GoSS
claim that the South makes up one third of Sudan's total population.
Wongo responded that he is confident that the South's population
actually constitutes more than one third (Note: we find it hard to
conceive that there are 15 million people in South Sudan. End Note).
Rather, he said the GoSS fears that the NCP will manipulate the
census results to deliberately undercount the South's population.
Wongo added that he has no doubt that this is just what the NCP
plans to do. However, he said that the GoSS would have achieved a
much better (if not perfect) result, if it had taken the census
seriously early on, instead of waiting until the last minute.

Kiir a Conciliator, Not a Strong Leader
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) Wongo said that President Kiir "stood tall" in the
aftermath of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and
the death of SPLM leader John Garang. Kiir inherited a tense
situation in the South, with a variety of antagonistic, armed
militias ready to resist the SPLM. Kiir put a priority on stability
and, through a policy of moderation and conciliation, avoided
bloodshed and brought these groups under GoSS authority.

6. (SBU) Wongo said that since then, however, Kiir has failed to
master the art of governing. He has not taken a strong hand with
his cabinet. Instead of identifying and removing corrupt or
inefficient cabinet members, they have simply been rotated from seat
to seat. Cabinet ministers have concluded they can defy Kiir
without serious consequence. This explains the Council of
Ministers' willingness to vote against Kiir on holding the census on
schedule and they almost rejected it a second time.

Isolated Kiir
- - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Wongo disagreed with the suggestion that President Kiir's
cautious approach reflected his style as a consensus builder and the
need to hold a potentially fractious coalition together. Rather,
Wongo asserted that Kiir is surrounded by a small group of trusted
advisors who have isolated him. This group includes his office

KHARTOUM 00000613 002 OF 002

director Martin Majuk, GoSS Minister of Presidential Affairs Luka
Biong Deng, GNU Foreign Minister Deng Alor, and GoSS Interior
Minister Paul Mayong. Wongo said that he believes Luka and Deng
Alor, both natives of Abyei, have kept Kiir almost solely focused on
the Abyei question to the exclusion of other important issues.
Wongo added that, while it would be appropriate for the SPLM as a
political party to attempt to mediate the Darfur conflict, he
disagreed with Kiir's having put the GoSS in that role. (Note: Our
understanding is that Darfur Task Force Chair Abdel Aziz Helou is
filling that role on behalf of the SPLM; Wongo may be intentionally
misrepresenting the GOSS role in order to be critical - see comment.
End note).

No Conflict Now, But Wait Until 2011
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) Wongo doubts that the South will allow itself to be
dragged back into conflict, whatever the provocations from the NCP.
The real question is - what will happen in 2011? Southerners will
vote for separation if given the choice, although Wongo said he is
not certain that separation is the right decision. Even more
problematic, Wongo does not believe that the NCP will allow the 2011
referendum to take place.

- - - -
9. (SBU) A member of the opposition in the SSLA, Dr. Wongo is an
outspoken critic of the leadership of the SPLM, which he considers
often incompetent and corrupt. He very much enjoys playing the role
of opposition critic, and the CG has on more than one occasion seen
him bait SPLM leaders with intentionally provocative but humorous
attacks. While his views on Kiir's isolation from his cabinet and
his obsession with Abyei are interesting, we frankly take them with
a grain of salt. He is certainly correct, however, in his analysis
that Kiir and the Council of Ministers did themselves no favors in
the botched manner in which they handled the problems with the


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