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Cablegate: Government of Southern Sudan Requests Un Elections

VZCZCXRO1801
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1314/01 2421425
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291425Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1753
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001314

DEPT FOR AF/SPG SHORTLEY/SMALL, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, IO/PHO
NSC FOR BPITTMAN AND CHUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINS EAID KDEM UN SU
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF SOUTHERN SUDAN REQUESTS UN ELECTIONS
ASSISTANCE

REF: KHARTOUM 1247

1. (SBU) Acting on direct orders from Government of Southern Sudan
(GOSS) President Salva Kiir Mayaradit, Vice President Riek Machar
formally requested elections assistance from the United Nations
Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) SRSG Qazi on August 16. This request
allows UNMIS and UNDP to begin expedited delivery of technical and
strategic elections support to government institutions and entities
across Sudan's South, in accordance with UNSCR 159, and in advance
of a formal request by Sudan's Government of National Unity (GNU).
Machar's move sidesteps continued NCP/SPLM wrangling over
composition of the National Elections Commission (NEC). Although
Presidents Bashir and Kiir agreed on Abel Alier and Idris Abdullah
as NEC chair and vice chair respectively (reftel), the parties
remain divided over who should fill the remaining seven seats,
delaying the establishment of Sudan's elections-policy arbiter.

2. (SBU) The GOSS' request follows nearly one year of sustained
pressure by Juba's diplomatic corps to focus GOSS attention on
elections. The USG co-chaired Southern Sudan Elections Donor Group
(SSEDG) commissioned UNOPS in September 2007 to carry out a
multi-sectoral "gap analysis" assessment to identify possible
impediments to elections in the South. The SSEDG successfully
pushed for the creation of an elections taskforce within the
Ministry of Presidential Affairs, and with direct assistance from
ConGen Juba, has worked to speed the SPLA's and Southern Sudan
Police Services understanding of South-specific elections security
challenges. By April 2008, the SSEDG, with the assistance of
USAID-partner NDI, had given two separate briefings to broad-based
civil society groups in the former garrison towns of Wau and Malakal
to enhance elections awareness and build networks between otherwise
disparate grassroots organizations. The June Juba-based meeting
hosted over 100 local NGOs, and set the stage for the creation, with
SSEDG support, of an independent civic education forum that links
elections-minded organizations in the South's Equatoria, Bahr el
Ghazal, and Upper Nile regions.

3. (SBU) Despite UN-specific language on Sudanese elections in UNSCR
1590, the absence of a functioning NEC had thus far prevented UNMIS
from securing funding and political support from UN Headquarters in
New York for its elections programming. UNMIS Elections Chief Ray
Kennedy and UNMIS-Juba Resident Coordinator David Gressly repeatedly
have noted to ConGen Juba staff the UN's New York-based
bureaucracy's skepticism of Bashir's commitment to elections.
According to Kennedy, the absence of a NEC only intensifies that
view -- deepening bureaucratic resistance to Qazi's and Kennedy's
requests for UN "anticipatory action on elections" in advance of any
formal request by the GNU.

4. (SBU) Unaware of Machar's August 16 request, Kennedy regaled the
Juba-based diplomatic corps on August 28 with news of a bureaucratic
breakthrough: UN Department of Legal Affairs had ruled that, given
dual competencies awarded to Khartoum and Juba by the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA) and the language in the existing UNSCR, UNMIS
was authorized to act on a unilateral GOSS request. That same day,
VP Machar queried Acting UNMIS/Juba Civil Affairs Chief Diane De
Guzman about New York's response to his letter, bringing to
UNMIS/Juba's attention for the first time both the existence of a
formal GOSS request and the realization that UNMIS/Khartoum had
misplaced it. De Guzman has since confirmed that UNMIS Elections
Chief Ray Kennedy now has a second copy of Machar's request and is
forwarding it to New York for immediate action.

5. (SBU) UNMIS/Juba Civil Affairs staff and Kennedy believe the GOSS
request to UNMIS will strengthen UN agency support for
SSEDG-generated initiatives in the South. Aside from the UNOPS
assessment, UN participation in previous SSEDG initiatives was
wholly dependent upon personal relationships within the Juba
diplomatic corps and the personal (occasionally un-sanctioned)
efforts of UNMIS/Juba's David Gressly. (COMMENT: More
significantly, New York's endorsement of unilateral UNMIS elections
support to the GOSS ahead of a GNU request may improve the
occasionally fractious relationship between UNMIS/Khartoum and
UNMIS/Juba. UNMIS/Juba staff, including Gressly, routinely complain
to ConGen staff that their initiatives are undervalued and
undermined by a UN bureaucracy "overly focused on Khartoum." END
COMMENT.)

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOSS's request also represents a shift in the
SPLM's political elections calculus, and Juba's growing recognition
of its responsibility for free and fair elections in the South -
despite the formal oversight responsibilities of the National
Elections Commission. Unlike their compatriots in the North,
including those in Darfur, two generations of Southerners have never
participated in elections. With a UNFPA-estimated literacy rate of

KHARTOUM 00001314 002 OF 002


only 37% (male) and 12% (female) for the South, and region-specific
security challenges that already are proving taxing for the Southern
Sudan Police Service (SSPS) and Sudanese People's Liberation Army
(SPLA), South-specific electoral challenges are numerous. Minister
for Presidential Affairs Luka Biong Deng previously eschewed the
possibility of Juba's unilateral movement on elections in
discussions with ConGen Juba PolOff, believing it would provoke NCP
ire toward the SPLM, and increasingly paint the party as "overly
focused on secession" -- draining votes away from the SPLM in the
North. While a valid risk, UNMIS personnel have repeatedly stressed
that the GOSS must enhance its capacity to overcome region-specific
challenges imposed by the North/South civil war if it is to deliver
elections in the South. It appears the GOSS is beginning to agree
with them.

ASQUINO

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