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Cablegate: Splm Vice Chairman Malik Agar On Elections

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1120/01 2091348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271348Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1430
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001120

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

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM VICE CHAIRMAN MALIK AGAR ON ELECTIONS

1. (SBU) Summary: In a July 26 meeting with ConGen Juba, Blue Nile
State Governor and Vice Chairman of the SPLM Malik Agar said that
the SPLM will contest the 2009 elections from top to bottom, and
that party support to GOSS President Kiir is "solid." End summary.

2. (SBU) Meeting on the margins of an SPLM Political Bureau
conference this weekend in Juba, SPLM Vice Chairman Malik Agar told
Congen Juba that the SPLM will contest the 2009 elections at all
levels nationally. He said the SPLM would do this despite knowing
that the NCP now finds itself with its back to the wall because of
the ICC indictments. "Even before this, Bashir could not give up
power," Malik said, "because of all the crimes he has committed.
But the ICC has made this even more true." However, the SPLM has no
alternative but to try to contest the elections anyway. It was, he
said, the only path to holding a referendum in 2011. "At this
point, Bashir can lose everything in a general upheaval, or he can
keep something and survive." Asked what it was that Bashir might be
able to keep, Malik was vague, finally saying that perhaps he could
keep the presidency, even through cheating, so long as the SPLM held
the National Assembly and could write the 2011 referendum law.
(Comment: Malik's comments seemed to indicate that the SPLM would
contest the elections to ensure a deal with the NCP on the
referendum law. End comment.)

3. (SBU) Asked if the SPLM would select GOSS President Kiir to run
against Bashir for the presidency of the GNU, Malik again was
evasive, although he indicated that Kiir's support in the SPLM is
complete, and so it made sense that he would head the party ticket.
Asked who else might be selected if Kiir decided not to be the
candidate, Malik refused to speculate. Asked if he would consider
running, he said he did not want to, but if Kiir asked him to, he
would do it.

4. (SBU) "The challenge we face," said Malik, "is getting peacefully
to the 2011 referendum." The South, he said, has no incentive to
stay in a united Sudan, and will vote to break away. It was
important that the break be peaceful, however. If that means
sharing oil revenue, that could be done, but the South has suffered
too much war, he said, and the goal of Kiir and the party is to get
through this period without more of it. What most concerned Malik
was the Three Areas in 2011 (Blue Nile being one of the three
areas). The means by which they will decide who to align with are
not clear. If the NCP tries to keep them against the will of the
people, and fighting breaks out, the SPLM will go to their aid. "We
will have no choice," he said. (Note: While Abyei's choice to decide
to go with the South is enshrined in the CPA, Blue Nile and Nuba
Mountains are stuck with much more vague "popular consultations"
which could force them to stay in Northern Sudan against the will of
many of their citizens).

5. (SBU) Asked if the Political Bureau was considering a reshuffling
of the cabinet, Malik said that some ministers might change
portfolios, but that there would be no actual changes of people.
Concerning the naming of a new Minister for SPLA Affairs to replace
the recently deceased Dominic Dim Deng, Makik said that the position
will remain open for the time being and Kiir himself will oversee
the portfolio.

6. (SBU) Comment: Malik and others in the SPLM continue to show
unwavering support for President Kiir. Malik's refusal (as well as
the refusal of others) to speculate on who might run for the GNU
presidency if Kiir does not, springs, we think, from a sense that
talking about that would show disloyalty to Kiir. His primary place
at the head of the party might well indicate that he will have
little option but to stand for the presidency against Bashir,
despite the nearly universal belief in the South that Bashir will
not step down from power under any circumstances, and that Kiir's
efforts are better focused on the GOSS and on keeping the SPLM
united. The view of all we talk to in Juba is that the SPLM must
compete to insure that the South gets to hold a peaceful referendum
in 2011, which is the primary goal of all southerners.

7. (SBU) Comment Cont.: Malik's comments on the Three Areas are
deeply troubling. Abyei has a right to a referendum on self
determination, but the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile only
have a right to a popular consultation (presumably a discussion on
type of government, but not a referendum on self-determination).
Malik should know better, but his comment reflects the widespread
view that the people of the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile
will not accept being "abandoned" to the north, which is why over
twenty thousand SPLA troops (who are from those communities) remain
there. This will surely be a cause for war if the SPLM and NCP do
not negotiate a way for these two areas to retain nominal autonomy
under SPLM control following the referendum in 2011. This would be
a another new issue for negotiation between the parties that is in
their interests to resolve if they want to ensure peace and
continued oil revenues in the long term.

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