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Cablegate: Splm Sg Optmistic On Election Commission Creation

VZCZCXRO8215
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1122 2091349
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271349Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1433
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001122

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM SG OPTMISTIC ON ELECTION COMMISSION CREATION

1. (SBU) SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum told ConGen Juba July 23
that he was confident the National Elections Commission (NEC) would
be established and operable before the end of August. The National
Congress Party has already finalized its list of candidates, and
allowed three names to be disqualified on the grounds that they were
"partisan." Moreover, he contended, the ICC's application for an
arrest warrant against President Bashir guaranteed the NEC's
establishment because, "he will be doing everything possible to
continue to look presidential - to demonstrate he is not intimidated
by international opinion, and that his government will weather the
storm." Amum was dismissive of conjecture that further ICC
development's risked Sudan's demise. "People said that after the
death of John Garang, yet the nation has survived."

2. (SBU) The SPLM has not yet finalized its NEC list and continues
to be tight-lipped about potential candidates. Amum noted that all
parties have agreed on the necessity of avoiding a "public vetting"
of NEC members prior to their appointment - a political ceasefire
meant to reduce tensions ahead of probable squabbles over census
results and the electoral timeline itself.

3. (SBU) The recently passed National Elections Law states that
"impartial, national figures" must be appointed by President Bashir
to fill the nine commission seats. Pressed on whether there was
space for neutrality in Sudanese politics, Amum responded that it
was possible - selecting candidates was complicated only by the need
to identify those "presently apolitical," and a candidate's past
political aspirations or positions were not necessarily
disqualifying factors. He allowed, for instance, that erstwhiQ(Hh]QQn VQQQM%QQQQJl %QI\Y[XZ+QQsuch a figure despite
his appearance at the SPLM Convention, and was likely to be offered
a seat on the Commission.

4. (SBU) Comment: The final disposition of the SPLM list will not
occur before the end of this weekend's Political Bureau meeting.
This is the first session of the SPLM's senior-most leadership body
since May's National Convention, and features returning party
luminaries such as Nhial Deng Nhial, who had previously gone into
self imposed exile over disagreements with Kiir on SPLM policy and
concerns about corruption. This effort by the SPLM to come together
to push ahead on elections gives some hope that Sudan may yet hold
them before the close of 2009, though it is also possible that the
SPLM leadership will spend much of this weekend discussing strategy
with regard to the ICC indictment as well as Darfur strategy
following President Bashir's trip there last week. The ICC issue
continues to suck the oxygen out of many issues that are important
to the SPLM, including the naming of an interim administration for
Abyei.

FERNANDEZ

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