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Cablegate: Icc Action, Sudan's Electoral Commission, and South Sudan

VZCZCXRO7543
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1370/01 2521113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081113Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1849
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001370

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, DRL
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: PGOV PREL KDEM AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: ICC ACTION, SUDAN'S ELECTORAL COMMISSION, AND SOUTH SUDAN
POLITICS: A CONVERSATION WITH MINISTER JOSEPH OKEL

REFS: A) KHARTOUM 1349
B) KHARTOUM 1289

--------
SUMMARY
--------
1. (SBU) According to GNU Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joseph
Okel, the NCP is doing little to stave off an impending ICC
indictment of President Bashir and lamented that the 25 August Kalma
IDP camp incident has moved the GoS further away from securing an
Article 16 suspension from the UNSC. Okel alleged that neither the
SPLM, nor the NCP is interested in national elections, and claimed
that the two major parties conferred broad power on the National
Electoral Commission (NEC) to suspend elections in order to do the
parties' dirty work in delaying elections. Okel worried that if
GoSS President Kiir runs for the Presidency of Sudan, it will
seriously weaken southern unity, and he decried basing political
appointments in the GoSS on tribal affiliation. End summary.

-------------------
ALL TALK, NO ACTION
-------------------
2. (SBU) On 4 September, GNU Minister for Parliamentary Affairs
Joseph Okel of the Union of Sudan African Parties 1 (USAP 1) told
CDA Fernandez that the High Committee on the ICC Crisis, led by GNU
First Vice President (and GoSS President) Salva Kiir Mayardit, is
all talk and no action. CDA Fernandez asked Okel if he thinks the
NCP is serious about its threats to freeze CPA implementation,
declare a state of emergency, and eject AU-UN peacekeepers from
Darfur if an ICC arrest warrant is issued. "People (in the NCP) are
used to saying unreasonable things," said Okel. "They describe
these things as though they are a success and they think it will be
effective."

3. (SBU) "There is no one position" in the High Committee about how
to deal with the crisis, Okel continued. While some believe that
threatening the international community is an acceptable strategy,
others (particularly the SPLM) disagree. "This is a serious
situation, and they don't listen to us. The NCP thinks that when the
international community gives them a chance to improve, they have
won." We have told the NCP that the GOS must take concrete steps to
improve the situation in Darfur that will convince the UNSC members
to postpone an arrest warrant, so that we can put our house in order
in Sudan.

4. (SBU) Minister Okel participated in the GNU delegation that
recently traveled to Libya, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and South Africa
to encourage the African UNSC members to call for an Article 16
suspension of a possible Bashir arrest warrant. After being briefed
by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on 19 August, President of
Senegal Abdoulaye Wade recommended to the GNU team that President
Bashir not travel with an ICC arrest warrant pending. Wade also
advised that President Bashir hand over ICC indictees Ahmed Haroun
and Ali Kushayeb and disarm the janjaweed. The NCP did not
appreciate Wade's frank advice, according to Okel. "Wade had met
recently with the Americans," he noted.

--------------------------------
KALMA INCIDENT COMPOUNDS PROBLEM
--------------------------------
5. (SBU) The 25 August incident at the Kalma IDP camp adds to our
problem, Okel told the CDA (ref B). "We've gone from bad to worse."
Not until the night of 2 September did the GoS launch a formal
investigation into the incident, and only then because there was a
lot of talk, said Okel. CDA Fernandez asked Okel whether he
believes the SPLM is making a good faith effort to help the NCP
resolve the Darfur conflict. The SPLM is making a good faith
effort, replied Okel, but the NCP gives them nothing to work with.
We (i.e., the southern parties) tell the NCP to work with the
factions. We tell them to consider dismantling the Darfur Peace
Agreement and starting anew if that is what it takes, said Okel.

6. (SBU) According to Okel, President Bashir plans to form a
national committee to engage in negotiations with the rebel factions
in two months time. CDA Fernandez warned Okel that the GoS may not
have two months. This is yet another case of the NCP prioritizing
process over results, said the CDA, and this time it will not be
good enough.

--------------------------------
NCP AND SPLM BOTH FEAR ELECTIONS
--------------------------------
7. (SBU) CDA Fernandez commented that while important CPA
deliverables such as Abyei and elections are moving forward, albeit

KHARTOUM 00001370 002 OF 003


at a snail's pace, the impending ICC arrest warrant seems to
overshadow events Sudan-wide. Okel agreed and raised the likelihood
of the GoSS' rejecting results of the recent census. According to
the CPA, census results are to feed into the power-sharing
arrangement of the newly-elected GNU. Okel stated that it is in the
interest of neither the NCP nor the SPLM to hold elections. Both
parties stand to lose their current grip on power at the national
and local level (and in the South, at the regional level as well).


--------------------------------
NEC: A TOOL TO DERAIL ELECTIONS
--------------------------------
8. (SBU) According to Okel, the NCP and the SPLM purposely designed
the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to have broad powers over
the electoral process. One of these powers (Chapter II, Section 10,
letter (i) of the National Electoral Law) is: "to postpone any
procedure of elections or referendum for any compelling situation
according to this Act and determine new dates thereto." In Okel's
opinion, the two parties will quietly encourage the NEC to delay
elections until at least 2010, on the grounds of "technical issues."
"Everybody will tell you they are keen on elections," said Okel,
but no party is really interested in having them.

9. (SBU) Okel also voiced concern about the current electoral
environment and the inability of small parties to travel and
campaign freely. He referred to the recent shutdown of two Sudanese
newspapers by the regime (ref A) and asked, "How can we go to
elections like this?" During its next session, which runs from 13
October to December, the Parliament only will have time to
deliberate on the budget, claimed Okel. There will be little time
to discuss reform of laws urgently needed before elections, such as
the media and security acts.

---------------------------------
POLITICAL MANUVERING IN THE SOUTH
---------------------------------
10. (SBU) Because the electoral law does not allow a candidate to
contest the position of GNU President and GoSS President
simultaneously, many are concerned about who might succeed GoSS
President Salva Kiir Mayardit were he to choose to run for President
of the GNU. If Kiir contests the GNU Presidency and loses, he will
be left him without a position in either government. This is a way
for current GoSS Vice President Riek Machar Teny and his Nuer
supporters to "get rid of Kiir," said Okel. Okel voiced concern
about a GoSS led by Machar. Machar is even more indecisive than
Kiir, according to Okel, and he is not a uniting factor in the
South. "For the time being, Kiir is the only southern leader that
can keep the south united," said Okel who has not shied away from
criticizing Salva in the past. Kiir needs to be encouraged to
continue to lead the south (and the GoSS) until we get an
alternative, he added.

------------------------------
TRIBALISM IN SOUTHERN POLITICS
------------------------------
11. (SBU) CDA Fernandez asked Okel's views about the role of
tribalism in southern politics. According to Okel, Anyanya I (the
early southern Sudan independence movement) leader Joseph Lagu first
made tribalism an issue in the late 70's as a way of pressuring Abel
Alier. In his message of a unified "New Sudan," late SPLM Chairman
John Garang tried to bury the idea that someone should be promoted
to (or is entitled to) a position of political influence just
because he/she represents a certain tribe. However, others in the
party, such as Riek Machar and Lam Akol, opposed Garang's vision.
When Salva Kiir Mayardit became SPLM Chairman and President of the
GoSS on Garang's death, he reverted to appointing people based on
tribal entitlement, said Okel. (Note: Many observers believe that
Kiir's strategy of apportioning political positions based on
ethnicity was a clever and successful strategy that conciliated
disaffected groups and helped weld a fragile southern unity in the
aftermath of the signing of the CPA. End note.)

12. (SBU) However, neither intellectuals nor the general public in
the South support this idea, said Okel. Tribalism is not an issue
for them. The use of tribalism to divide southerners is a tactic
that has been employed by the NCP, he claimed. Okel warned that the
NCP is employing the same divide and rule tactic to tribes in
Darfur. "One would hope that democracy would trump tribalism and
produce elections based on merit," said Okel. "What is the use of
parties if people associate only with their tribes?" asked Okel. We
need to build parties so that people compete not based on tribal
differences, but on party ideals. The only way to make sure that
political tribalism does not succeed is through democratic

KHARTOUM 00001370 003 OF 003


elections, said Okel.

-------
COMMENT
-------
13. (SBU) As the clock ticks towards a possible ICC indictment of
President Bashir, the NCP seems to be still divided on how best to
proceed and apparently unsure about proving that it is serious about
making the kind of on-the-ground progress in Darfur that might
convince the U.S. to abstain from an Article 16 veto. As a sharp
observer of regime dynamics, albeit from an independent Southern
perspective, and with good insight into NCP-SPLM interaction on
critical issues confronting the GNU, Okel is often able to pinpoint
the intricacies of the SPLM-NCP relationship and even explain
internal divisions within the parties. Okel's assessment that the
two major parties' deliberately provided the NEC with the power to
delay the elections so that the SPLM and the NCP do not have to call
for a delay themselves is an interesting one. We have noted on
several occasions that elections are not in the interest of either
major party and that a slippage to 2010 means that elections may not
occur at all. The SPLM may be even more nervous about elections
than an aggressive NCP. When established, if the NEC is nothing more
than a pawn of the NCP and the SPLM, this makes the no elections
scenario that many in Sudan expect even more likely. It could
provide a face-saving method of delay without either party paying a
direct political cost for postponement.

FERNANDEZ

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