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Cablegate: Turabi Loves the Icc, Hates Ncp's Darfur Plans

VZCZCXRO5954
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1523 2890836
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150836Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2072
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001523

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

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPAO KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: TURABI LOVES THE ICC, HATES NCP'S DARFUR PLANS

1. SUMMARY: On October 14, Hassan al-Turabi held a press conference
at the Popular Congress Party (PCP)'s Khartoum headquarters and
formally announced that the PCP will boycott participation in th
Sudan People's Initiative plan for peace in Darfur. END SUMMARY.

2. With his characteristic zeal, Turabi spoke for two hours to an
outdoor crowd of journalists at his party's headquarters in
Khartoum's Riyadh neighborhood. Repeatedly lambasting the ruling
National Congress Party (NCP) with verbal jabs, he slammed the Sudan
People's Initiative (SPI) as well as the Qatari and Arab League's
plans for Darfur. He began the press conference by announcing that
the PCP had not been consulted on any of the planning regarding the
SPI, and would therefore refuse the government's invitation to
attend the plan's formal unveiling on Thursday, October 16.

3. Turabi chided the Arab League's efforts on Darfur as defunct and
laughed off the SPI as "just a social event, not a proposal for
solving the Darfur issue." On the Qatari initiative, Turabi
proclaimed that "the Americans and Europeans seek the truth about
Darfur and talk to IDPs... the Qataris just meet with the NCP." He
also declared that the Democratic Unionist Party (some factions),
the Umma Party (again, some factions), and the Sudanese Communist
Party would be joining the PCP in boycotting the SPI.

4. Turning to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Turabi seemed
to take delight in the body's recent actions and the regime's
reactions in order to attempt to meet the demands of the P-3 (and
especially France) by arresting ICC indictee Ali Kushayb.
Dismissing Kushayb as "simply a scapegoat for Bashir," Turabi
rejoiced that "nothing can protect the president and the NCP from
the ICC, not even the Sudan People's Initiative." With a smug
smile, he noted that "[ICC Chief Prosecutor] Ocampo's case is
strong."

5. Seemingly without a sense of irony for a man who came to power in
a 1989 National Islamic Front coup d'etat, Turabi concluded the
press conference by stating that "elections should not be delayed,"
and that "freedom of expression was essential" for all Sudanese. He
mentioned that several prominent PCP leaders have been arrested and
sent to Kobar jail (where many political prisoners, including Turabi
himself from 2004 to 2005, are held) for "no known crimes."

6. COMMENT: Turabi's statements reaffirmed his role as the most
outspoken member of the opposition in Sudan. Unlike the Sudan
People's Liberation Movement, the PCP is not bound by a political
alliance to publicly defend the NCP when it comes to the subject of
ICC indictments. Hoping to humiliate President Bashir, Turabi's
brazen remarks showed again that he is not afraid of making a public
show of the NCP's precarious political position.

ASQUINO

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