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Cablegate: A Guide to the Formal Political Party Landscape in Darfur

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #0916/01 1721033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY ADXA7CC04 MSI4446-623)
P 201033Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1102
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000916

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARA MARKING)

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: A GUIDE TO THE FORMAL POLITICAL PARTY LANDSCAPE IN DARFUR

1. (U) SUMMARY: Although the two CPA signatories - the Sudanese
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party
(NCP) - form the basis of the Government of National Unity (GNU) and
control most aspects of political life in Sudan (with the NCP
controlling the North and the SPLM controlling the South),
opposition parties with historical constituencies continue to
operate despite significant restrictions, even in the troubled and
controversial region of Darfur. Most of the political parties
present in Khartoum are represented in Darfur. In North Darfur, the
main political parties present are the National Congress Party,
National Popular Congress Party, Umma National Party, Communist
Party, Democratic Unionist Party (Merghani Branch), Democratic
Unionist Party (Hindi Branch), Sudanese People's Liberation Movement
and Sudanese Liberation Movement/Minni Minawi (SLM/MM). END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) This message is meant to serve as an introduction and
reference to the political parties active in Darfur for newly
assigned officers, visitors, and Darfur watchers in Washington and
elsewhere.

-----------------------------
National Congress Party (NCP)
-----------------------------

3. (U) The National Congress Party (NCP) is the governing party in
Sudan and is the senior partner in Sudan's GNU. The NCP was
established in 1988 by key political figures in the former National
Islamic Front (NIF) organization as well as other politicians. In
the last legislative elections of December 2000, the party won 355
out of 360 seats in the national parliament. In that year's
Presidential elections, President Bashir was re-elected with 86.5%
of the vote. The NCP in North Darfur is headed by Othman Mohammed
Yousif Kibbir, the Wali (governor) of North Darfur. Sixty-five
percent of his cabinet are NCP members, including Ministers,
Commissioners, Directors General of institutions and senior
officials. NCP offices in North Darfur are co-located with the
offices of the State Legislative Council. NCP membership in North
Darfur is relatively small but controls many of the institutions of
the state. According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA),
25% of the government positions are to be given to women. This is
not implemented by the NCP in North Darfur, which claims that there
are no qualified female candidates for most of the senior
positions.

----------------------------
Popular Congress Party (PCP)
----------------------------

4. (U) The Popular Congress Party (PCP) split from the National
Congress Party in 2000, after disagreements between President Bashir
and former Chairman of the National Assembly and Parliamentary
Spokesman Dr. Hassan Al Turabi. PCP advocates an Islamic state
based on Islamic Sharia and rejects the concept of a secular,
democratic state. Key PCP players in North Darfur are Mohammed
Aldouma Sabikulu, a business man, Mohammed Elsadig Adam, a bookstore
keeper, and Hammza Al Hadi, civil servant. PCP meetings and
activities are disrupted by the North Darfur security authorities,
and its key figures are closely monitored closely by the National
Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

5. (U) PCP is one of the least popular parties in North Darfur,
particularly among women and youth, who resent previous NIF
policies. A local leader from the Fur community (who is a member of
the Umma National Party) recalled that North Darfur state
experienced hard times when the NIF was in control of the government
during the first days of National Salvation Government rule. Most of
the laws and regulations were based on a conservative interpretation
of Islam. He also claimed that when Mohammed Aldouma Sabikulu, Head
of the PCP in North Darfur, was the head of the North Darfur
Legislative Council, he dismissed from their duties 80% of the women
in government, particularly those in senior positions. During that
period, he added, the main requirement for young graduates to secure
employment with the government was to be affiliated with the
National Islamic Front.

6. (U) PCP's Turabi and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader
Khalil Ibrahim were previously close associates, and PCP's Islamic
ideology has led to many suspicions and accusations of collaboration
between the two groups. However both Ibrahim and Turabi deny any
ties between JEM and PCP. (Note: PCP reps have met with USG
officials in El Fasher; however, after the May 10 JEM attack on
Omdurman, meetings are low-key and occurred in individual members'
homes. End note).

--------------------------
National Umma Party (NUP)
--------------------------

7. (U) A majority of Darfurians are ostensibly and traditionally
affiliated with the National Umma Party, due in part to the
movements' roots in Darfur (the successor to the Mahdi was from
Darfur), and to most Darfurians' deep commitment to Islam. NUP is a
moderate Islamic, centrist political party led by Al Sadig Al Mahdi,
who served twice as Prime Minister in Sudan, and was removed both
times in military coups. The Umma Party was formed in 1945 on a
platform advocating national independence for Sudan. After Sudan's
independence in 1956, the platform of Umma party became equal
democratic rights, equal rights of participation for all Sudanese
citizens in their government regardless of gender, religion or
ethnicity, and equal distribution of wealth and power. Some
Darfurians are also drawn to the influential party leadership, who
are descendants of the Mahdi, leader of the Mahdia revolution (1885)
whose supporters were mainly from Darfur and Kordofan.

8. (U) In North Darfur, most of the National Umma Party leadership
is well-educated and represents a variety of ethnic groups and
tribes. Historically, most Umma Party supporters were from Berti
African tribal origins, but lately there are some shifts as many
Berti support the NCP (Note: The Wali of North Darfur is from the
Berti tribe. End Note.) Key figures of the party in North Darfur
include attorney Ismaeel Kitir Abdel Kareem, veterinarian Mohamed
Adam Abdel Kareem, attorney Khaleel Tukras, and civil servant and
women's rights activist Zahra Abdel Naeem. (Note: Although
individual members regularly meet with USG officials, party leaders
have declined to meet with FieldOffs since May 2008. End note)
9. (U) There are five active political factions within the Umma
Party in Sudan, each claiming political legitimacy. Three of them
are present in Darfur.
- Umma Party Reform and Renewal:
Headed by Mubarak Al Fadil, this faction supports the same platform
as the Umma National Party. Al Fadil, who defected from the
National Umma Party, formed the Umma Party Reform and Renewal Party
and signed an agreement with the central government in 2003. Al
Fadil later split with the government after a disagreement with Mr.
Nafei Ali Nafei, Presidential Advisor for Political and
Organizational Affairs over the Sudanese oil revenues. Al Fadil was
expelled from the Central Government and was later accused of
planning a military coup in 2007 and imprisoned for months.
Although it has not been especially active in North Darfur, UPRR has
an office in El Fasher, in the Al Ghadi residential area. The head
of the North Darfur office is Mustafa Omer, Administrative Officer
in the North Darfur Local Council.
- Umma Party General Leadership (UPGL):
At the federal level, Umma Party General Leadership is led by Dr. Al
Sadiq Al Hadi Al Mahdi who is the first cousin of Al Sadiq Al Mahdi.
Dr. Al Sadiq is a State Minister of Education for the state of
Khartoum and also Vice Governor. The Umma Party General Leadership
remains outside the Government of National Unity but has agreed on
some basic objectives for the elections Darfur, and has agreed to
continue discussions with the NCP during the interim period before
elections. UPGL in North Darfur is headed by Mr. Mohammed Abdalla
Masar, senior government official. It has approximately 50 members
in North Darfur, but does not have an office.
-Federal Umma Party (FUP):
The FUP is led by Ahmed Babiker Nahar, State Minister of Environment
and Physical Development at the federal level. Federal Umma Party
shares the National Umma Party's platform. It was formed after the
expulsion of Mubarak Al Fadil, head of Umma Party Reform and
Renewal, from the government in 2007. Ahmed Babiker Nahar was the
deputy Chairman of Umma Reform and Renewal before Al Fadil's
expulsion, and acted as Al Fadil's right hand. However Nahar
condemned Al Fadil's alleged coup attempt and created the Federal
Umma Party in order to continue working with the Government of
National Salvation. FUP has an office in Al Jeel residential area
in El Fasher, and is headed by Mohammed Ali Hamid, former
commissioner of Al Seraif Locality in North Darfur. It has very
limited activities in Darfur, with a membership in North Darfur of
approximately 100 individuals.

------------------------------
Sudanese Communist Party (SCP)
------------------------------

10. (U) The Sudanese Communist Party was founded in Sudan in 1946.
It was a major force in the country's politics and was one of the
two most influential Communist parties in the Arab world (along with
the Iraqi Communist party) until 1971 when a planned military coup
by pro-Communist military officers was discovered by Sudan's
ex-President Gaafar Neimeri. As a result of the failed attempt, the
party's most prominent and best known leaders, Abdel Khalig Mahjub,
Joseph Garang and Hashim Alatta, were executed. The SCP is led by
Mohammed Ibrahim Nugud and plays a marginal role in Sudanese
politics.

11. (U) The party has a small presence and membership in North
Darfur. It is led by Mohammed Al Mubarak, a medical equipment
technician in the hospital of the United Nations African Mission in
Darfur UNAMID, together with a group of students and retired civil
service workers. Prominent SCP leaders in North Darfur are Abdel
Magid Ahmen Fadul, a radio operator working with UNAMID and Mohammed
Badawi, Head of Al Amal Centre for Rehabilitation and Treatment of
Victims of Torture. (Note: The SCP spokesman for North Darfur met
with USG officials in El Fasher for the first time in May 2008. End
Note)

-------------------------------
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
-------------------------------

12. (U) The Democratic Unionist Party is Sudan's oldest party.
Previously known as the National Unionist Party, it was renamed in
1967 by Sudan's first President, Ismaeel AlAzhari. The symbolic
head of DUP is Al Sayed Mohammed Uthman Al Merghani, and the party's
main platform is Sudan's unity. In recent years the party has
become factionalized into as many as five different groups -- one of
them even contributing members to the Government of National Unity
(State Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Samani Al-Wasila).

13. (U) DUP has long-standing relations with the Sudanese People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM), with whom it signed the Peace deal of
November 1988 in Ethiopia. (Note: The agreement was then opposed by
the National Islamic Front party. End Note.) DUP enjoys good
relationships with most other Sudanese political parties. DUP has
two different branches in North Darfur, Democratic Unionist Party
(Al Merghani Branch) and Democratic Unionist Party (Al Al Hindi
Branch).
- Democratic Unionist Party (Al Merghani Branch):
DUP/Merghani has an office in Al Azama residential area in El Fasher
and is headed by Mr. Ahmed Salih, Minister of Education. It has a
large number of members and organizes activities, which are closely
monitored by the government. Prominent DUP members include Al
Rasheed Makki, Head of North Darfur Chamber of Commerce; Mohammed
Abdalla Neel, local businessman; and Idriss Atta Al Bari, Senior
Traditional mediator. (Note: Although DUP members, including
Chairman Makki, previously met with USG representatives in Darfur,
the party has sometimes declined to meet with FieldOffs due to
security concerns. End Note.)
- Democratic Unionist Party (Al Hindi Branch):
DUP/Hindi has an office in Al Zeiadia residential area in El Fasher,
and approximately fifty members. Its activities are supported by
North Darfur authorities, and DUP/Hindi officials were appointed (by
the Wali) to local government positions, although its key figures
are not influential in the community. DUP/ Hindi is headed by
Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, a member of the North Darfur Legislative
Council who previously worked as a private contractor in El Fasher's
main market.

-------------------------------------------
Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
-------------------------------------------

14. (U) The Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), known
collectively as Sudanese People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M),
grew out of the armed movement that battled the Khartoum government
in the civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2005. A signatory of the
2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the SPLM shares power with the
NCP in Sudan's Government of National Unity and is the governing
party in autonomous South Sudan. SPLM is headed by Salva Kiir
Mayardit, First Vice President in the GNU, President of the
Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), and Commander in Chief of the
SPLA. Although it originated from the grievances of the
marginalized people of southern Sudan specifically, the SPLM's
platform envisions a "New Sudan," built on a democratic and secular
system of governance, and on the popular participation of all
Sudanese citizens, and it is seeking to establish itself throughout
the country.

15. (U) SPLM has a fledgling presence in North Darfur, with offices
in the Al Azzama residential area of El Fasher. Prominent North
Darfur SPLM leaders include Secretary General Al Sayed Hessein Neel,
Deputy Secretary General Abdel Mjid Ahmed Fadul, Spokesman Ahmed Al
Khateem, and North Darfur Minister of Health Abdel Shafee Issa
Mustafa. The party has representation and membership in the local
government and regular political activities. SPLM established a
presence in El Fasher in April 2008. (Note: SPLM representatives
meet regularly with USG officials in El Fasher. End note)

--------------------------------------------- -------
Sudanese Liberation Movement/Minni Minawi (SLM/MM)
--------------------------------------------- -------

16. (U) The Sudanese Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minawi
(SLA/MM) signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in 2006, becoming a
partner in the Government of National Unity. As part of the deal,
Minni Minawi became a senior advisor to the President of Sudan, and
the head of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority. Since the
signing of the DPA, SLA/MM has attempted to establish a political
presence, however the fledgling party is still in the process of
transitioning from an armed military faction to a political
movement. The party, referred to as Sudanese Liberation
Movement/Minni Minawi (SLM/MM), has no real political presence or
activities in North Darfur state. Official political
representatives, for example in the North Darfur Legislative
Council, are still appointed by the SLA/MM leadership. Ismaeel
Hussein Hashim is the Secretary General for SLM/MM in North Darfur,
and both the faction and the movement claim the majority of their
support from the Zaghawa tribe.

17. (SBU) Comment: The political party landscape in Darfur is
overshadowed by the larger issues of war and displacement. With the
militarization of the region, political parties have been obscured
by rebel movements and the NCP-controlled security apparatus.
Political parties and affiliations may become more relevant if there
are ever elections in Darfur. But the reality will probably be that
few of these factions will have much popular appeal in a credible
political process in Darfur - the NCP and SPLM excepted because of
their access to cash and resources. The violence, displacement and
suffering in Darfur has discredited all political institutions to a
certain extent, especially among the large IDP population and there
is a political vacuum that can be filled by whatever players are
agile and clever enough to capitalize on the deep discontent of the
local population.
FERNANDEZ

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