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Cablegate: Lack of Political Agreement Continues to Threaten

VZCZCXRO4506
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0858 1611300
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091300Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0994
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000858

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID KDEM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: LACK OF POLITICAL AGREEMENT CONTINUES TO THREATEN
ELECTORAL LAW

REFS: A. KHARTOUM 455
B. KHARTOUM 830

1. (SBU) On 2 June, Deputy Secretary General of the SPLM for the
Northern Sector Yasir Arman told poloff that the 2009 elections and
the 2011 referendum on independence for south Sudan are the "end
game" of the CPA. "The elections are about the democratic
transformation of Sudan," he said. He made it clear, however, that
strict media censorship and arbitrary arrests will undermine the
ability of the SPLM and other parties to compete freely and fairly
against the NCP and he emphasized the need to revise the media and
national security laws before elections are held.

2. (SBU) Arman was a member of the high-level three-person SPLM team
that negotiated with the NCP on the text of the draft electoral law
before the remaining differences were submitted for resolution to
the Presidency in mid-March. He confirmed that the two parties
almost agreed to a 55 percent first-past-the-post/45 percent
proportional voting scheme for candidates to the national and state
assemblies (ref A). The deal was never sealed, however, because
they could not agree on what level (national or state) the
proportional vote and the women's vote should be held. The SPLM
prefers proportional elections to take place at state level because,
according to Arman, SPLM officials are better known at that level
and ultimately members of Parliament should be responsible to their
local constituencies.

3. (SBU) There is a small gap to bridge in terms of NCP-SPLM
differences on the draft law, said Arman. He expressed concern that
if the bill does not reach the Parliament the week of 15 June, it
will not be ratified in the current session. If the bill is
submitted to the Parliament at the end of the session, the
Presidency should use its authority to extend the current
parliamentary session so that the bill can be adequately debated and
ratified, he argued. [Note: The current parliamentary session ends
on 30 June. The next session begins in October. End note.]

4. (SBU) If Parliament ratifies an electoral law lacking NCP-SPLM
consensus, it will be "Kenya all over again," claimed Arman. "The
NCP wants to use its mechanical majority to push the law through,"
he said. He warned that if a law lacking consensus is ratified, it
will cast a shadow of doubt over the entire 2009 electoral process.
Asked whether the SPLM would boycott elections if the NCP bulldozes
the electoral law through Parliament, Arman said that any decision
to boycott elections would depend on many factors, but did not rule
a boycott out.

5. (SBU) Poloff asked Arman his impression of the conduct of the
census in southern Sudan. Asserting that the process was not
transparent, he said that until official results are released, it is
difficult to tell. According to Arman, 33 percent of Sudan's
population lives in the South and if the census results indicate a
lower figure, the SPLM will reject them and their use in determining
a new power-sharing arrangement in the Government of National Unity
elected in 2009.

6. (SBU) COMMENT. Arman's comments reflect the consensus SPLM
suspicion that the NCP tried to manipulate the census, and the fear
that the NCP will do the same with the elections. There has been no
movement on the draft electoral bill since mid-March and each day
that the parties do not resolve the minor differences between them,
the greater the chance that the NCP parliamentary majority will
seize on it and push a bill through the system without SPLM-NCP
agreement on the final remaining points (ref B). If this occurs,
there is no doubt that the electoral process will be off to a rocky
start.

DATTA

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