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Cablegate: Southern Sudan Opposition Parties: Chances of Free and Fair

VZCZCXRO1640
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1313/01 2421123
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291123Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1751
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001313

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, DRL
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID KDEM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: SOUTHERN SUDAN OPPOSITION PARTIES: CHANCES OF FREE AND FAIR
ELECTIONS ARE NIL

- - - -
Summary
- - - -
1. (U) During a gathering at ConGen Juba on 25 August, southern
opposition parties declared the chances for free and fair elections
in 2009 to be "non-existent" given the abbreviated period to prepare
for and conduct elections, the inability of small parties to finance
adequately their planned activities, and the ability of the NCP and
SPLM to use public funds, security services, and the media to their
advantage. One NCP and one SPLM representative also attended. The
NCP representative denied allegations that his party had manipulated
the electoral timeline so opposition parties would have
insufficient time to prepare or that NCP leaders were using public
funds to support their party's activities. The CG reminded all that
the elections are a Sudanese process and the Sudanese people and
parties must take ownership. He reaffirmed U.S. support for the
elections as part of the CPA and expressed hope that the elections
would indeed be free and fair. End summary

2. (U) On the evening of 25 August, the Consul General hosted
southern opposition parties at ConGen Juba to discuss parties'
impressions of the electoral law and party strategies going into the
upcoming elections. Attending were members from the Sudan African
National Union (SANU), the United Democratic Sudan Forum (UDSF), the
United Democratic Front (UDF), and the United Sudan African Party
(USAP I). One SPLM rep and one NCP (Southern Sector) rep also
attended, further enlivening the discussion when sensitive issues
were addressed.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SPLM SHOULD IMPLEMENT POWER SHARING
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (U) The CG welcomed the party representatives, and asked for
their opinions about the upcoming elections and their parties'
relationships with the SPLM. Dr. Toby Maduot Parek Machar, the
Chairman of SANU, began by lamenting the SPLM's failure to
fully-implement its agreement with smaller southern parties to share
positions in the GoSS and leadership positions in the southern
states. "The SPLM has ignored us (i.e., small southern parties) for
governorships, commissionerships, and advisory roles" within in the
GoSS. Small southern parties are not even involved in lower-level
leadership roles within the ten southern states, he continued. He
urged the SPLM to review the power-sharing decisions it agreed to
and allow other southern parties to participate in leadership and
management of the south. Dr. Machar added that during this period of
resettlement in the South, "we must build the spirit of peace," and
it is the work of all parties to make this happen, not only the SPLM
and the NCP.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ---------
NCP ALLEGED MANIPULATION, LACK OF FUNDS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ---------
4. (U) SANU Chairman Machar argued that southern parties need to
confer before the elections and adopt a unified vision. He said
that lack of funding is the biggest obstacle to SANU's participation
in the upcoming election. "How can we mobilize our people in ten
months with no funds? We rely only on member contributions and do
not have access to state funds such as the NCP and SPLM." Angelo
Gwang Ding, Leader of the USAP Caucus in the Southern Sudan
Legislative Assembly (SSLA), seconded Machar's sentiments and
bemoaned the fact that most southern opposition parties cannot even
afford to set up state offices across most of the country. He added
that the NCP and the SPLM control the nation's security forces,
making it even harder for opposition parties to work freely.

5. (SBU) SANU member and GNU National Assembly representative
Gabriel Matur Malek branded the NCP as "masters of deceit",
particularly when it comes to manipulating international opinion.
"The elections will not be free and fair," he declared. "They are
just a chance for the NCP to re-group." He said that the electoral
law is a work of the NCP, and opposition parties did not have an
adequate chance to inform it. Northern opposition parties such as
Umma and DUP are being "squeezed" to the point of non-existence,
said Malek. Were the NCP to allow free and fair elections, it would
disappear from power. The SPLM, said Malek, must reach out to all
communities in order not to be voted out of power in the GoSS. "The
SPLM is still enjoying its honeymoon period with the people of
southern Sudan," he warned, "but the honeymoon is eroding over
time."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
TIGHT TIMELINE AND COMPLEX ELECTIONS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Southern opposition party members in general are concerned
about the tight elections timeline, particularly with no National

KHARTOUM 00001313 002 OF 002


Electoral Commission (NEC) yet in place. "When will there be time
for civic and voter education?" they asked. People need to be
empowered to vote; thus civic and voter education is very important,
argued SANU rep Malek. "The situation we are in now with only a
short time to prepare for and conduct elections," charged Malek,
"and is a calculated and deliberate delay by the NCP. The chances
of free and fair elections at this point in time," he reiterated,
"are non-existent."

7. (U) Opposition party members emphasized the complexity of holding
simultaneous elections for the Presidential, national assembly,
SSLA, state assemblies, and governors. Due to this complexity, the
elections "will not work," they insisted. Reps also expressed
concern about logistical impediments to preparing for and conducting
elections in the south.

- - - - - - - - - -
THE NCP FIGHTS BACK
- - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) After listening to opposition party representatives
lambaste the NCP and SPLM for creating what they said is an unfair
elections environment, NCP Southern Sector representative Christo
John spoke up. "Everyone here is blaming the NCP and the SPLM for
their situation." "The NCP is not using public funds to support its
party activities," claimed John, to the sneers and snickers of those
around him. The NCP, he said, uses only its member contributions to
support the party. "Furthermore, all members of the National
Assembly voted to pass the electoral law, not just the NCP," he
said. "Elections will be fair," he emphasized. .

9. (SBU) John had more to add, but opposition party members refused
to let him continue. UDF rep and member of the SSLA Sebit Abbe
said, "this guy, our southern friend, is being used by the NCP.
Even he knows that the NCP gives little funding to its southern
sector branch." Turning to John, SANU's Makel said, "You as a
Southerner don't know what the NCP is all about." John tried again
to finish his statements, but opposition party members continued to
cut him off.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SUDANESE MUST TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR ELECTIONS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10. (U) After two hours of continuous, sometimes heated, exchanges
between the party representatives and repeated requests for U.S.
financial support, the CG reminded them that the elections are a
Sudanese process, and the Sudanese people and parties must own them.
He noted that Sudan is only beginning its period of democratic
transformation and that it will take time for the parties to
develop, learn how to support themselves, and compete. Furthermore,
he noted, it is inappropriate for the USG to select foreign parties
and directly support them financially, in effect, taking sides in a
Sudanese process. The U.S. can, and will, however, assist with the
mechanics of organizing the election and with civic education
programs. He reaffirmed U.S. support for the elections as part of
the CPA and expressed hope that the elections would indeed be free
and fair.

- - - -
COMMENT
- - - -
11. (SBU) None of the opposition parties' allegations and
accusations are shocking, and their biggest concerns continue to be
inadequate funding and lack of control over the security and media
environment in which all parties must operate. It is no secret that
the NCP and the SPLM both use public funds to support party
activities. It is also well-known that the NCP employs a strategy
of "divide and conquer" when it comes to splitting apart opposition
parties in order to weaken its competition. Unfortunately, it also
has been evident for some time that the SPLM is moving in the
direction of making the South a one-party state, at least until
after the 2011 referendum.

12. (SBU) Comment continued: What should be of considerable
concern, however, is the looming electoral deadline (July 2009), the
lack of a functioning NEC, and the inadequate preparation, including
civic and voter education, to start the electoral ball rolling. The
GoSS recently submitted a request for UNMIS electoral support
(septel), which will begin to allow preparation to start in earnest
in the south.

ASQUINO

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