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Cablegate: Paulino Matiep On Splm Politics and the Spla

VZCZCXRO5004
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0739 1361031
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151031Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0821
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000739

DEPT A/S FRAZER, S/E WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, AF/C, AF/E
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS PHUM MARR MOPS SU
SUBJECT: PAULINO MATIEP ON SPLM POLITICS AND THE SPLA

1. (SBU) Deputy Commander in Chief for the SPLA and ex-SSDF
Commander Paulino Matiep claims that his involvement in the SPLM
Unity State Congress fallout has been overstated. In a May 13
conversation with Acting CG, the aging Nuer military strategist was
emphatic that rumors linking him with GOSS Vice President Riek
Machar were false. "Politicians would be well-advised to consult
with me," the tight-lipped Matiep said cryptically, "but I am
neutral." As an example he said he has repeatedly given unheeded
advice to Unity Governor Taban Deng Gai, and claimed that Gai is
"overly stubborn" to listen but did not elaborate further. Should
current GOSS Health Minister Joseph Monytiel Wiejang stand for
gubernatorial election in 2009, Matiep plans to serve as an informal
advisor to Weijang in his capacity as a Nuer elder. Pressed as to
whether he has offered similar counsel to Machar, Matiep hesitated,
and then explained that he views the GOSS Vice President as "one who
operates at a different level." (NOTE: Matiep's translator then
explained the remark, indicating that the General speaks to Machar
on "national security issues." END NOTE.)

2. (SBU) Matiep's lengthy praise for the newly-elected SPLM state
chairman, current GOSS Health Minister Joseph Monytiel Wiejang was
in sharp contrast to his discussion of Gai. Unlike Gai, Wiejang was
able to deliver services and salaries to the community when he was
last governor. His performance as GOSS Health Minister, Matiep
maintained, has been similarly impressive, citing upgrades in
medical care and the overall facility at Juba Teaching Hospital -
this despite its administrative and operational transfer from the
ICRC to GOSS. Matiep offered little on the forthcoming SPLM National
Convention, preferring not to pre-judge its outcome. He offered
less on potential replacements for the late SPLA Affairs Minister,
noting only that Kiir had not convened a meeting to discuss the
matter. He did, however, complain about ongoing difficulties with
the integration of members of his (former) Southern Sudan Defense
Forces into the SPLA

3. (SBU) Matiep claimed to Acting CG that he had a 57,000-strong
militia, not all of whom were brought into the SPLA immediately
following the 2006 Juba Accord. Over the past month, two large
factions of ex-SSDF arrived in Juba for integration, only to be
rejected by the SPLA. This came on top of Kiir's directive to
Matiep to disarm his estimated 1,500-strong militia force in Juba,
an order the general refused. Matiep has been in "near constant"
talks with the SPLA since April 7, pressing for an increase of
ex-SSDF soldiers in the SPLA military ranks. Matiep allowed that
the discussions have been decidedly negative, and had broken off as
a result of the May 2 air crash which killed SPLA Affairs Minister
Dominic Dim Deng. Matiep stressed he would not accept a continuous
no answer from SPLA Chief of Staff Oyai Deng Ajak on further ex-SSDF
integration, and would take the issue to Kiir "or others" as
necessary.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Matiep, due to travel shortly to the U.S. for
medical treatment, is a far shrewder operator than he shows on first
greeting, and is clearly comfortable engaging in the cut-throat
state-level politics of Unity State. Less-than-perfect harmony
between Matiep and a still-distrustful SPLA, and Matiep's continued
defiance of Kiir on militia disarmament, make Matiep a worrisome
force amidst the fluid, heavily-tribal evolutions currently underway
within the SPLM. Matiep's occasional gullibility - SPLM lore has it
that the illiterate Matiep reportedly accepted hundreds of pounds of
paper from Khartoum during the North/South civil war believing they
were Sudanese dinar payouts - makes him an easy target for VP
Machar's machinations. We continue to monitor him closely, as does
the GOSS.

FERNANDEZ

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