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Cablegate: Splm Frustration Grows Over Demarcating Sudan's North-South

VZCZCXRO4273
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1344/01 2471253
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031253Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1803
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001344

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS PGOV KDEM MARR ASEC UN AU SU
SUBJECT: SPLM FRUSTRATION GROWS OVER DEMARCATING SUDAN'S NORTH-SOUTH
BORDER

REF: KHARTOUM 1310

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: President Bashir's August 27 public comments have
put the North-South border demarcation issue at the center of the
latest SPLM/NCP political impasse. Senior SPLM officials involved
in the NCP/SPLM Executive-Committee talks are concerned that border
demarcation could spark unintentional localized violence, pulling
SAF and SPLA into conflict with civilians across the nine-state
region. With the NCP on the electoral offensive, the GoSS cabinet
in Juba is divided over the issue - but is nonetheless keenly aware
of previous mis-steps taken by the SPLM during the similarly
politically-fraught national census. Determined not to be held
captive by Khartoum's bureaucratic defiance of CPA-determined
funding timelines for the Ad Hoc Technical Border Commission, the
SPLM established a shadow "political committee" on border
demarcation to carefully monitor Southern technical representatives'
interaction with their NCP counterparts. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -------
BASHIR SACRIFICES COOPERATION TO POLITICAL ADVANTAGE
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) President Bashir's public declaration in Juba August 27
that the demarcation of the 1956 North/South border "will be a
painful experience for Northerners and Southerners alike" (ref. A)
broke with an agreed NCP/SPLM strategy to resolve the issue quietly.
It also put the future of the 1956 border squarely within the
hardening SPLM/NCP stalemate over CPA provisions linked to the 2009
elections. GoSS Internal Affairs Minister Paul Mayom told ConGen
Juba PolOff August 30 that Bashir's remarks surprised the SPLM and
"were ill-considered." Mayom fears they could undermine continued
GoSS efforts to disarm the South's civilian population and heighten
tensions between poorly controlled and heavily armed frontline SAF
and SPLA units. According to Mayom, during February's Executive
Committee talks, the parties had jointly decided to target a public
sensitization campaign at local communities along the border before
finalizing the border. Until then, "mutually disturbing
geographical discoveries" were to remain under wraps.

3. (SBU) Minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development
Michael Makuei told ConGen PolOff in February that both the NCP and
SPLM had agreed on the need to "determine a way forward" on
North/South border demarcation before publicizing the decision.
Khartoum and Juba agreed to informally suspend political
deliberations over border demarcation prior to the national census
and to delay a planned "pegging of the border" beyond its April 2008
target date. (NOTE: The Ad Hoc Technical Border Commission, as part
of its functional duties, was to have marked the borderline with
stakes to generate community-level discussion - a plan cancelled
during the joint NCP/SPLM Executive Committee talks held during that
same period. END NOTE.) The Commission's technical work would
continue, although woefully under-funded by the GNU.

4. (SBU) Not only did Bashir's August 27 public comments on the
long-delayed demarcation undermine this understanding, but also his
allegations of Southern-induced delays within the Ad Hoc Technical
Border Commission smacked of NCP political spin, in the view of the
SPLM. GoSS Vice President Riek Machar told Consul General August 29
that he and others took issue with Bashir's characterization. "We
replaced our member," the testy Machar noted flatly, "because he
died. And yet our brother neglected to mention that fact." Machar
contends that elections will move forward even if the border remains
unresolved, emphasizing that "we will not hold elections hostage for
anything, because we strive to erect a new system in Sudan."

5. (SBU) Unless the yet-to-be-formed National Elections Commission
(NEC) determines that Sudan's existing 270 electoral constituencies
remain in place during the 2009 elections, few Sudanese politicians
agree with Machar's assessment, and some UNMIS staff maintain that
the border must be demarcated before balloting begins. While the
1956 border could be finalized after elections, were the NEC to
adopt existing constituencies, post-election demarcation of the
border would force gerrymandering that likely would result in a
not-easily accepted shift in the composition of the National
Assembly. "Even with Abel Alier at the helm," Mayom noted to ConGen
PolOff, "we could not risk that."

-----------------------------------------
RISK OF CONFLICT: HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF?
-----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) On August 30, Mayom maintained that President Bashir's
"reckless handling and politicization" of border demarcation risks
dragging the country into a quagmire. "A few pegs will determine

KHARTOUM 00001344 002 OF 003


who can participate in the 2011 Referendum, and who cannot. Imagine
on Tuesday being promised freedom and on Wednesday it is stolen from
you." Mayom believes that these "newly anointed ex-Southerners"
would take up arms to protest the decision, inviting SAF
intervention against an uprising "nominally within the North."

7. (SBU) In this scenario, reminiscent of this past May's conflict
in Abyei, the SPLA would be politically and militarily unable to
stand-by and watch its former citizens attacked and would be drawn
into the fray, Mayom insisted. "It would be an instantaneous
reaction. We have the troops there, and the SAF in some areas is
barely an arms-length out of the South." (COMMENT: If Mayom's
scenario is even remotely prescient, Machar's position on border
demarcation might gain more traction, particularly given Kiir's
continued refusal to take his people back to war. However,
composing an electoral strategy with after-the-fact gerrymandering
would be well beyond the political capacity of the SPLM. END
COMMENT).

---------------------------
UNMIS ASSITS WITH SATELLITE
---------------------------

8. (SBU) While the parties' polarization increases, the UNMIS
Elections Division is seeking to diminish the technical
uncertainties inherent in delineating and demarcating the 1956
border by providing the government with high-resolution
commercial-satellite imagery of the region. UNMIS Elections Chief
Ray Kennedy informed the Southern Sudan Elections Donor Group of
this on August 26. (NOTE: Although UNMIS intends to provide this to
both Khartoum and Juba, it is unclear whether the GoSS has received
the material. Presidential staffers queried by ConGen PolOff that
same week were unaware of its existence. END NOTE.)

-----------------------------
GOSS ALLEGES NCP MANIPULATION
-----------------------------

9. (SBU) Meanwhile, the Ad-Hoc Technical Border Commission continues
to be hampered by recent staff changes, insecurity along the South
Darfur border and within Southern Kordofan, and inconsistent GNU
funding not unlike those that hobbled the national census. The
issue's insertion into NCP/SPLM 2009 election calculations only
exacerbates already tense political discussions between the parties.
Ministers Mayom and Makeui asserted to ConGen PolOff in March that
the Ad-Hoc Technical Border Commission was circulating a
"politically motivated, NISS manufactured" near-final map of the
1956 North/South border which substantially expands "Northern
territory" at the expense of the South.

10. (SBU) Makuei claimed that sizeable areas of the southern states
of oil-rich Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Northern Bahr el
Ghazal were to be transferred to the North, becoming part of White
Nile, South Darfur, and Southern Kordofan states respectively.
While Makuei admitted that the Commission had discovered some maps
that support territory shifts in select locations, he claimed that
the majority of the proposed land-transfers were politically
motivated, and supported by maps developed by NISS. Mayom
criticized in particular the planned alterations to the state
boundaries of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Western Bahr el Ghazal,
noting sarcastically that the proposed changes would "conveniently
award Khartoum full control" over the region's copper belt and
suspected uranium deposits.

11. (SBU) In discussions with CG on August 28, Machar noted that the
border commission's findings may be challenged via arbitration.
"Kharsana and Heglig (in Unity State) were both southerner villages
even during British colonial rule," he maintained. The Vice
President contended that the NCP was cherry-picking history, noting
their push to North/South border 17 miles south of the Kiir River -
a calculation based on historical grazing areas, not where villages
once were located. "If they want to play such games, then we should
argue for Kormuk." According to Machar, the one-time capital of
then-SPLA controlled Southern Blue Nile was administered by Malakal,
capital of the South's Upper Nile state through 1960.

------------------------------
. . .AND A KHARTOUM PETRO-GRAB
------------------------------

12. (SBU) Discussing the controversy with ConGen PolOff August 29,
UNMIS/Juba officials alleged that the GNU recently has entered into
unilateral exploratory contracts with Chinese oil corporations along
the Unity State/Southern Kordofan border, "and now Khartoum must

KHARTOUM 00001344 003 OF 003


scramble to make the map safeguard their investment." Such
allegations come on top of continued SPLM/NCP wrangling over NCP
claims that the majority of Unity State's oil field areas, and those
located in the western portion of Upper Nile state, actually fall
north of the 1956 border. (NOTE: One such NCP assertion, that the
Heglig oil field is part of the North, will be decided as part of
the Permanent Court of Arbitration's deliberations on the boundaries
of the Abyei region. GOSS officials have been trying to limit the
fallout generated by some county commissioners who maintain that
largely Nuer-inhabited Heglig is a part of Unity state and not the
disputed oil region. END NOTE.)

--------------------------------------------
GOSS INFIGHTING AND THE GHOST OF CENSUS PAST
--------------------------------------------

13. (SBU) Makuei told PolOff on July 26 that the GOSS Council of
Ministers had approved Kiir's recommendation to establish a
"political committee" consisting of Machar, Makuei, Mayom, Minister
for Energy and Mines John Luk Jok, and Minister for Presidential
Affairs Luka Biong Deng to monitor the work of Southerners on the
national commission.
Southern technical experts, unhappy with the direction of the
demarcation proceedings and unable to obtain a paper-trail
justifying precise border decisions, threatened to walk out of the
Ad Hoc Technical Border Commission in June. Kiir, blind-sided by the
experts' degree of frustration, appointed the political committee to
monitor the issue more closely. Makuei maintains Kiir's surprise
stemmed from stove-piping of information within the Ministry of
Presidential Affairs, and he alleged, unintended neglect by an
overworked Luka Biong Deng.

14. (SBU) In particular, Makuei maintained that Biong Deng had paid
insufficient attention to decisions being taken by the Commission,
and alleged he was "overly reliant" on the advice of foreign experts
not associated with the Commission itself (such as Abyei Boundaries
Commission Panel of Experts Member Douglas Johnson). In a pattern
reminiscent of SPLM mis-steps taken ahead of the national census,
Kiir voiced deep concerns in July about the disconnect between the
political impact of a geographically altered South and decisions
being taken by technical experts on the Ad-Hoc Technical Border
Commission. (NOTE: Current maps presented to the Commission place
Kiir's own home area within the North - something that would make
him ineligible to remain President of the Government of Southern
Sudan, a "fact" he occasionally utters with relief. END NOTE.)
Makuei, taking a position similar to VP Machar's, noted to ConGen
PolOff, "fundamentally, demarcating the border on time will lead us
nowhere but to war, and the SPLM has been caught sleeping."

15. (SBU) Comment: With Abyei relatively calm for now, border
demarcation is on the short list of issues that may serve as a
flash-point for renewed conflict, and certainly is a source of
ongoing anxiety for the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile communities
that may be "lost" to the North if the South secedes. For this
reason, and as Makuei himself notes above, the SPLM may have an
interest in delaying the final determination of the border, to keep
the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile "in play" and keep the
support of these populations as long as possible by leaving their
situation ambiguous. This is a risky strategy, however, and leaves
the SPLM exposed to manipulation, as shown by Bashir's comments. It
also complicates districting for elections that neither party may
actually want. The fact remains that both sides believe in terra
irredenta extending far beyond the purported 1956 borders, with the
NCP seeking to grab resource-rich areas and the SPLM longing to
incorporate pro-SPLM border populations in a greater South Sudan. In
the long run, the parties need to be pushed forward toward more
transparent solutions, such as the UNMIS proposal of using satellite
photos to assist with mapping and demarcation.

FERNANDEZ

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