Cablegate: "No to War, Yes to a New Sudan" - the Splm National

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O 161135Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) The SPLM National Convention - the party's second in 14
years - kicked off May 15 with great fanfare. 1720 delegates
elected via successive grassroots contests at the boma, payam,
county, and state-level converged on Juba to craft a new executive
structure for the party - the first intra-Movement elections in the
history of the SPLM. Scheduled to last through May 19, the
Convention also serves to finalize policy platforms utilized in
future election campaigns, reaffirm the SPLM's commitment to the
vision of a more equitable, democratic "New Sudan," and focus on
methods by which the technical implementation of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement can be strengthened. The party is also expected to
establish a road-map for its role in the resolution of the Darfur
crisis and to craft the SPLM position on the 2009 elections,
including how to resuscitate the languishing draft National
Elections Law.

2. (SBU) Secretary General Pagan Amun, due to depart Sudan in less
than a week following President Kiir's "him or me" ultimatum to the
party, helped open the convention by leading the delegates in a
rousing chorus of liberation songs prior to the formal speeches.
Amum put on a brave face throughout the day's events, appearing to
challenge SPLM Party Chairman Kiir only once - with an exaggerated
handshake at the close of the session. Shouts of "Kiir will bring
change, change to a New Sudan" and "The Sudanese identity is a
Democratic Identity," and "Welcome, welcome New Sudan" punctuated
pauses between speakers. A majority of speeches referenced the key
role played by the U.S. government in forging the CPA and its past
support to the SPLM.

3. (SBU) An already euphoric crowd was enlivened by Convention
Chairman James Wani Igga's lengthy riff on Sudan's history of failed
North/South peace agreements "made of shit" before noting that
anyone believing the CPA could be placed in the same category had
"better reconsider their thinking." To great laughter, the folksy
Igga said the U.S. had ensured the success of the CPA by telling the
parties, "if you can make peace, that's great, and if you cannot, we
have a plan B we can put into effect." Igga diverged from his
wittily sarcastic review of North/South relations and the health of
the SPLM to make a serious point about food security, noting that
the South is nearly 100% dependent on importation - an untenable
degree of dependency given current worldwide concern about available
grain supplies.

4. (SBU) The crowd was stony silent - but respectful - during the
congratulatory speech by GNU Vice President and NCP Vice Chairman
Ali Osman Taha. Taha, speaking as a representative of the NCP,
called for Sudan's continued unity, acknowledged the continued
difficulties encountered implementing the CPA, and reaffirmed NCO
commitment to the NCP/SPLM partnership forged by the Naivasha peace
process. "We need you for the stability of the Sudan and in order
that we can continue to deliver the riches of the CPA." His review
of NCP efforts on the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement and his attempt
to discuss NCP action to address the situation in Darfur and drew
heckles from the SPLM delegates from the East and Darfur.

5. (SBU) Assistant to the President Minni Minawi, speaking before
Taha, received a considerably warmer welcome, with Vice Chairman
Malik Agar reminding the delegates that "as long as Darfur bleeds,
all Sudanese are bleeding." While offering congratulations to the
SPLM, Minnawi's speech mostly pressed for awareness of Sudan
Liberation Movement efforts to adhere to the Darfur Peace Agreement
(DPA), the establishment of the Darfur Reconstruction and
Development Fund, and drew unintended laughs when he asserted there
remained room in the agreement for additional signatories. He
thanked the SPLM for its leadership following the JEM attack on
Omdurman, emphasizing that Khartoum's inability to maintain its DPA
commitments had spawned the insurgency. Minnawi drew considerable
applause when he called on the NCP to stand with the SLM in its
efforts to continue forward with DPA implementation, threatening
that "if you do not, I can assure you that the SLM will not continue
to endeavor alone."

6. (SBU) Sudanese political parties from North and South offered
accolades for SPLM leadership, and called for the party's continued
commitment to the CPA. The representative of USAP 2 presented
Lincoln's address at Gettysburg as a corollary to the present period
in the SPLM's transformation, with Umma praising the SPLM for its
continued advocacy for Sudan's marginalized, noting "there is no
stability without equality." Eastern Front representatives recalled
their past alliance with the SPLA and reaffirmed their support for
the SPLM as it "used this Convention to chart a new path for peace."
The Democratic Unionist Party reminded the audience of the current
unrest in Abyei, intoning that "permanent peace in the Sudan depends
on a strengthened relationship between North and South. The USAP 1
representative was the only speaker to deviate sharply from a
message centered on the SPLM/NCP partnership or a unified Sudan,
calling for the crowd's vocal endorsement of separation in 2011

KHARTOUM 00000750 002 OF 003

"lest we remain captives of Khartoum." The response from delegates
representing all of Sudan (North and South) was not what he hoped
for. Also present were visitors from many African parties (ANC,
SWAPO, ZANU-PF) and some governments (Egypt, Eritrea, Libya), EU
Special Envoy Torben Brylle, and Juba-based diplomats. CDA Fernandez
was the only Khartoum-based COM present.

7. (SBU) SPLM Chairman Kiir haltingly delivered an expansive,
weighty keynote speech intended to lay out the direction of the SPLM
over the next three years of CPA implementation, with a heavy
emphasis on party unity and adherence to the national vision of the
party. Kiir began by tracing the origins of the movement and
recognizing the fallen heroes of the movement. The overall emphasis
of Kiir's speech was to emphasize founding father John Garang's
vision of a New Sudan that would respond to the "legitimate demands
of southern Sudan and the marginalized regions in our country."
Kiir recalled the first party convention held in 1994, which
separated the civilian and military functions of the movement and
established the governing institutions that guided the party in its
early years. Kiir diverted from the text of his speech twice -
first to give emphasis to current struggles within the party, and
then to recognize the gravity of the ongoing conflict in Abyei. On
the first point, Kiir promised that all senior leadership positions
in the party, including his own, would henceforth be elected
democratically, and called on all leaders in the party to adhere to
the wishes of party membership. Referring to the current
"restructuring" of the party leadership, Kiir noted that "some of us
may lose in the process of elections to key positions." On the
second point, Kiir noted the ongoing fighting in Abyei in the
context of the urgent need to fully implement the CPA. Other than
urging CPA implementation and an end to the "Old Sudan"
characterized by racism, intolerance, and instability, and wars,
Kiir was at times conciliatory toward the North and made a special
point of thanking GNU Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha for his
role in negotiating the CPA, and also recognized GNU Presidential
Assistant Ghazi Sallahudin for his role in negotiating the Machakos
protocol. (Note: Both Taha and Sallahudin were present for the
first day of the convention. End note.) With regard to national
priorities, Kiir declared that the SPLM must prepare for elections,
and must contribute to solving the crisis in Darfur. With regard to
southern priorities, Kiir committed himself to stamping out
corruption and promoting additional development.

8. (SBU) Acting CG spoke on behalf of the Charge, who departed Juba
on the convention-chartered plane along with other delegates flown
in from Khartoum. Invoking references to the U.S. government's
legacy of solidarity with the Sudanese people, USG contributions
during the Naivasha peace talks, and President Bush's commitment to
the CPA, Acting CG called for continued SPLM leadership within
Sudan. "This Convention marks the SPLM's final step in becoming a
national party - and the SPLM forged during the next five days will
find an expectant world outside its door. We will look to you to
bring change in Sudan, now and through elections, though consistent
advocacy for Sudan's marginalized, and through continued robust
implementation of the CPA. We will expect the SPLM to say no to war
- no to war in Darfur, no to war in Abyei, and elsewhere where it
threatens. Just as your Chairman has continued to demonstrate his
leadership - even as recently as during the past weekend's events in
Omdurman - we will expect such leadership by the SPLM to continue -
from Kutum to Kassala, from Juba to Merowe, and in Khartoum."

9. (SBU) Pro-bono GOSS consultant and former Special Representative
for the Deputy Secretary on Sudan Roger Winter followed, with a
speech reminiscent of John Garang. Winter recalled the SPLM's past
struggle, but reminded the party of its equally important "future
duties." "The vision of a New Sudan is a vision of hope for all
Sudanese. North, West, South, East and Center, they all need
liberation," he noted. "If 2001 leads to separation, those who will
leave will never truly be free - as long as your brethren elsewhere
are the slaves of Khartoum." Referencing evolving political fallout
in the wake of the SPLM's final INC meeting, Winter called on the
delegates to "keep in mind reasonable compromises may be necessary,"
and warned to loud applause that "substantial disunity within the
SPLM will kill the vision of New Sudan."

10. (SBU) Comment: Day one of the SPLM Convention displayed a
rightfully proud political party on the cusp of a historic
transformative process. Despite delays linked to internal issues
and JEM's attack on Omdurman, the event was well organized and
oriented toward maximum inclusively that catered largely to the
delegate's from Sudan's North. With the exception of SPLM Chairman
Kiir's speech, the majority of the speakers used Arabic as the
lingua franca for all delegates, and repeated references were made
to Darfur and its intrinsic link to the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement. The overall theme of the day was the party's commitment
to the vision a "new Sudan" and a national vision. Only Kiir's
remarks belied the challenges that lie ahead: internal power

KHARTOUM 00000750 003 OF 003

struggles and fresh violence in Abyei. These challenges could
quickly erase the momentum gained at the Convention, but the mood on
the first day was optimistic, and both the speeches and the visual
presentation - senior leaders chatting amiably on the podium - with
the telling exception of Kiir and Machar - showcased an energetic
and seemingly unified party.


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