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Cablegate: Umma Hopes for an Alliance with the Splm

VZCZCXRO4875
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1345/01 2480507
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 040507Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1806
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001345

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KDEM SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UMMA HOPES FOR AN ALLIANCE WITH THE SPLM

REF: KHARTOUM 841

--------
SUMMARY
--------
1. (SBU) According to Dr. Balgees Badri, a Sudanese scholar and a
powerful National Umma Party female figure, the elections will play
out in one of two ways: (1) the National Congress Party (NCP) of
President Bashir delays elections until 2010, at which point the
SPLM is only interested in the referendum and national elections
never occur, or (2) the SPLM reaches out to northern and southern
opposition parties, as well as regional groups, to form an alliance
to compete against the NCP and the NCP is defeated. Badri
encouraged an SPLM-Umma alliance, claiming that together, the two
parties could beat the NCP in areas such as Abyei, South Darfur, and
Blue and White Nile states. She said that the West needs to teach
the SPLM "tactics" so that it uses its upcoming shot at elections
wisely. End summary.

--------------
NEC MATERIAL?
--------------
2. (U) On 3 September, poloff spoke with Dr. Balgees Badri,
professor of Women's Studies at Al Afad University for Women in
Omdurman and National Umma Party politician. Badri was one of 29
candidates proposed by northern opposition parties to the GNU
Presidency on 4 August as a preferred candidate for the National
Electoral Commission (NEC). Although the Presidency has not yet
chosen the nine NEC members, Badri laughed at the prospect of being
selected by the NCP; she is a well-known critic of the current
regime.

3. (U) Badri, who has traveled to Germany in order to study the
implementation of a mixed electoral system, and to South Africa to
study management of electoral logistics and the relationships among
national, regional, and state electoral commissions, recommended
that once identified, the NEC should immediately embark on a study
tour to understand how a mixed electoral system should function.
Badri suggested that party election committees also take part in
these tours.

4. (U) Badri also stressed the need for domestic NGO capacity
building before elections. "NGOs aren't aware of their roles and
have little expertise with democracy," said Badri. This is
problematic because the voting population will depend on NGOs for
information and outreach on elections.

--------------------
ELECTORAL SCENARIOS
--------------------
5. (SBU) Dr. Badri said that she sees elections playing out in one
of the two following ways:

Scenario One: To the chagrin of the NCP, the SPLM refuses to join
it in an electoral alliance. The NCP realizes that even if it is
able to coalesce with the National Umma Party and the fragmented
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), it will not win a majority in the
GNU. The NCP sees elections spiraling out of its control, and
delays elections until 2010. In 2010, the SPLM is more concerned
with conducting the referendum than the elections. At that point,
neither the SPLM nor the NCP feel that there is a need for
elections. The SPLM prepares for and conducts the referendum,
seceding from Sudan. In this scenario, national elections never
take place. Many observers see this as a very likely scenario in
Sudan, made more likely by the looming shadow of an ICC indictment
of President Bashir.

Scenario Two: The SPLM makes a tactical decision to coalesce with
opposition parties across the country (former NDA partners such as
the Eastern Front, Umma, USAP, etc.) By doing this, the SPLM
guarantees that no matter the breakdown of those elected to the GNU,
it will have a significant number of friends in the GNU. In this
scenario, national elections will occur and this grand coalition of
opposition parties will defeat the NCP.

---------------------------------
A LESSON IN TACTICS FOR THE SPLM
---------------------------------
6. (SBU) Badri, an active Umma party member herself, is a strong
believer that an SPLM-Umma alliance would be a wise tactical move
for the SPLM. If the NCP, Umma, and the SPLM all run against one
another in the states of Blue Nile, White Nile, South Darfur, and
Abyei, none can guarantee that they will win. If, however, the SPLM
contests these areas in alliance with Umma, both parties will have a
better shot of knocking the NCP out of the picture. Many in the

KHARTOUM 00001345 002 OF 002


Umma Party still seem to harbor strong resentments against the SPLM
and the SPLM remains suspicious of Sadiq al-Mahdi's intentions.

7. (SBU) The West, and the US in particular, remarked Badri, need to
give advice to the SPLM on how to work more effectively with
northern opposition parties and regional groups across Sudan, such
as the Misseriya Arabs. The SPLM needs a lesson on "tactics" in
order to minimize the hegemony of the NCP, said Badri. The
elections are the SPLM's chance to rebuild an opposition party
alliance. Alliance building can be conducted at low-levels, she
explained, so as to avoid drawing attention to the process. By
creating an alliance with other opposition parties before elections,
the SPLM can guarantee relatively friendly national governments and
friendly state governments.

8. (SBU) "We (the Umma Party) have a lot of hope that the SPLM will
make wise decisions regarding elections," said Badri. The SPLM
could really make elections happen. "It is more in their hands than
in the hands of the NCP."

---------------------------
WHICH WAY DOES UMMA SWING?
---------------------------
9. (U) Poloff questioned Badri on the May agreement between the NCP
and the National Umma Party and the potential for an Umma-NCP
alliance. Badri expressed disgust at the signing of the agreement,
and said that she confronted Umma Party Leader Sadiq Al-Mahdi's
about it. Al-Mahdi has publicly stated that the agreement is not a
precursor to an NCP-Umma electoral alliance (reftel). Badri said
that she suspended her membership in the Umma party when the
agreement was signed and has not re-instated it. She also noted
that a majority of Umma's constituencies are not happy with
Al-Mahdi's decision.

--------
COMMENT
--------
10. (SBU) As elections edge closer, opposition parties in the north,
the south, and the east have made it clear that their best hope is
for an alliance with the SPLM. So far, the SPLM has been cagey on
the subject of coalitions, keeping its options open. Other
opposition parties, as well as the international community, remain
uncertain whether the SPLM wants elections at all given the high
possibility that the SPLM's share of power in the GNU may decline
after the census results. While an SPLM-Umma coalition could bring
the SPLM some gains over the NCP in a few northern states, the SPLM
instinctively does not trust the Umma party. They fear the latter
may try to "rewrite the CPA" following elections. In their view,
when Umma leader Sadiq al Mahdi was Prime Minister in the 1980's, he
was just as brutal as the NCP in the war against the South. While
the SPLM would be wise to reach out to parties that could
strategically enhance its ability to defeat the NCP on a national
scale (the DUP, Eastern Front, and SLM are the obvious choices) an
alliance with Umma is a long-shot at best despite the hopes of many
in the North (and within the Umma party itself) for regime change.


FERNANDEZ

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