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Cablegate: Darfur Election Coalitions Emerge From Skepticism

VZCZCXRO0863
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0834/01 1561122
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041122Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0958
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000834

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, SE WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM KDEM KPKO SOCI UNSC SU

SUBJECT: DARFUR ELECTION COALITIONS EMERGE FROM SKEPTICISM

REF: A) KHARTOUM 697

B) KHARTOUM 748

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Following the widely criticized census exercise,
Darfuris remain wary of the prospects for elections mandated for
next year. In a series of meetings, North Darfur political leaders
told FieldOff that Darfur political parties are generally
ill-prepared to participate, and most remain skeptical that current
conditions in Darfur can produce free and fair election results. In
the most likely scenario, a coalition led by the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM) will challenge a coalition headed by the
National Congress Party (NCP). Considering the NCP's advantageous
position as the current ruling party, such a confrontation is
unlikely to be seen as conducted freely or fairly. Political party
training, with a focus on constituent mobilization, and the presence
of international monitors throughout the process, including during
voter registration, could help to level the playing field, and limit
violent reactions to perceived electoral injustices.

-------------------------------
Political Parties Ill-Prepared
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Darfur offices of the People's Congress Party, (PCP),
the Communist Party (CP), the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) and the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Minni Minawi faction
(SLM/MM) all claim to have solid support in Darfur, although
representatives were hesitant to estimate membership numbers.
Although the structures of the parties are both well defined and
well known, none has developed or seemingly even thought about a
strategy to mobilize supporters for election activities. SLM/MM
political representatives complained to FieldOff that "funds to
develop political activities are diverted to the military wing due
to the non-implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)." A
prominent PCP representative claimed that many of his party's
supporters are government workers who cannot be politically active
for fear of losing their positions.

3. (SBU) The PCP rep pointed to the census and its "obvious
irregularities" as a preview of what will happen if elections take
place under GoS control. Leaders from Zam Zam camp for internally
displaced persons (IDPs) agreed, noting that no enumerators visited
their camp during the census, although the population was recorded
as 69,000 individuals after the last verification. (NOTE: Although
UNFPA previously told FieldOffs that the Central Bureau of
Statistics had trained enumerators from IDP camps to enumerate those
camps, Zam Zam IDP leaders said that this had not occurred in their
camp (ref A). They were not adamant about participating or not
participating in the census, rather it appeared to happen by default
as no one came to count them. They did not speculate as to why
enumerators did not enter the camp, but UNAMID and other sources
told FieldOffs that enumerators had been intimidated and threatened
in the areas around other camps, which may explain their hesitancy
to approach Zam Zam (ref B) "Such an undercount lays the groundwork
for government manipulation of election results - how would anyone
know how many voters to expect if we don't know how many people were
meant to vote in the first place?" the PCP rep mused. He was
skeptical about PCP participation in the elections, although he
admitted that such a decision had not yet been made by the central
party leadership.

4. (SBU) SPLM reps, who are anxious to see elections go forward as
planned, acknowledged that the census was flawed, noting that their
party would likely reject the census results. They would instead
call on the GoS to use the 1993 census results plus estimated
population growth as the basis for the elections, in an attempt to
compensate for any census undercounts in Darfur. SLM/MM reps
rejected this solution, claiming that elections were only possible
in an environment where there is security and freedom of movement,
two conditions that currently do not exist in Darfur. However they
conceded that SLM/MM would not make a final decision on electoral
participation until after the elections law is passed and the final
regulations, including those determining whether women will compete
on a separate list, whether the proportional vote will take place at
the national or state level and the percentages of the mixed system,
and adequately addressing issues of borders and geographical
distribution, are all made clear.

5. (SBU) Communist Party reps stressed that elections should be
postponed in Darfur until there is an environment of comprehensive
peace similar to that found in South Sudan, including the return of
IDPs. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is considered a "holy
document" by the National Congress Party (NCP) and SPLM, they
claimed, with no thought or concern for the negative consequences of
the agreement on Darfur or East Sudan, or the continued economic and
political marginalization of those regions. "Why should Darfur

KHARTOUM 00000834 002 OF 003


suffer so that the CPA can survive?" they asked. The Communist
Party does not want to undermine the CPA, representatives assured
FieldOff, but also doesn't want to see increased instability and
insecurity in Darfur because of it either.

------------------------------
Coalition for a "New Sudan"
------------------------------

6. (SBU) Although many in Darfur do not want to see elections take
place given the current instability, the political parties did agree
on the need to form a coalition to oppose the NCP should the
elections move forward. Such a coalition would likely be led by the
SPLM, which has the most at stake in the elections. SPLM reps said
that the party would work with the factions, most notably the SLM/MM
and SLA Abdul Wahid factions (SLA/AW), to form a coalition of
parties that share the vision of a "New Sudan." They said that any
party which embraces democracy and freedom will be welcome, and that
that party leaders have already discussed a coalition with Abdul
Wahid in Paris and Minni Minawi at the SPLM conference in Juba in
May 2008. Government of South Sudan President and SPLM Chairman
Salva Kiir Mayardit has agreed to visit Darfur once a preliminary
agreement has been reached, they claimed

-------------------------------
Home Court Advantage for NCP
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) North Darfur political leaders were well aware that
challenging the ruling NCP will not be easy. After the recent JEM
attack on Omdurman, the NCP has been working to shore up support,
they claimed, recruiting Sadiq Al-Mahdi's Umma Party and the
Democratic Union Party (DUP) into their ranks in the process. (Note:
Darfur Umma and DUP representatives declined to meet with FieldOff.
End note) "All of the resources that were supposed to be
committed to implementation of the DPA are instead going to NCP's
new partners!" a disgusted SLM/MM representative lamented. He cited
the recent activities of the North Darfur Wali, who, he claimed, has
been quietly dividing existing localities within the state in order
to split opposition constituencies and tribes. SLM/MM has been
given control of two of the seven localities. The new localities
are being parceled out to NCP loyalists and supporters, increasing
GoS control over local activities and diluting SLM/MM's strength in
the state. UNAMID's Civil Affairs chief confirmed this, noting that
the number of localities in North Darfur has increased from seven to
14 to 22 over the past year, all carefully managed by NCP partisans.
This is all part of a GOS strategy to create conditions for an
electoral win, fairly or unfairly, she said. "The NCP is the only
party ready for elections, and that's because it has been actively
preparing for them since the CPA was signed!" she stated.

8. (SBU) Political leaders expressed concern about the NCP's near
monopoly of the key components of a successful political campaign -
funding and access. SPLM reps insisted that the budget for the
election must come from the GoS, with equal funding for all parties,
although they acknowledged that is unlikely to occur. They also
said that SPLM would call on the GoS to provide equal access to
media for all parties. SLM/MM agreed, asking "how can we get our
message out to the people if the government won't cover our events?"
Zam Zam IDP leaders were concerned about polling station locations,
noting that they are unsure how IDPs could participate in the
election if there are no polling stations in or near the camps.

--------
Comment
--------

9. (SBU) Although the majority of political leaders in North Darfur
do not want elections to occur next year, most have at least
considered the possibility and are ready to join a coalition against
the ruling NCP. SPLM, as the most well-organized and best funded,
will lead the charge, with NCP, Umma and DUP likely squaring off
against it. The North Darfur PCP representative hinted that his
party has reached out to the government, but would align with
whichever side appears the strongest ahead of elections, provided an
agreement or suitable guarantee could be made regarding PCP
representation in a future government cabinet.

10. (SBU) North Darfur political leaders raised valid concerns about
next year's elections. Access to adequate funding, media resources
and even the location of polling stations will largely determine the
outcome of the elections, but even more important, the degree of
confidence in the outcome. Neither the NCP nor the SPLM will want
to accept defeat, and accusations of election rigging or
irregularities could spark fresh violence in Darfur, and even
jeopardize the CPA. To ensure fairness and transparency throughout

KHARTOUM 00000834 003 OF 003


the process, all election activities, from adoption of the electoral
law to the final certification of the count, must be monitored by
neutral, international observers or independent NGOs. In addition,
political party training with a focus on constituent mobilization
could help to level the playing field, and to limit violent
reactions to perceived electoral injustices.

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