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Cablegate: 37th Aec Plenary: Elections, Foreign Exchange, and Joint

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM EFIN KDEM KPKO UNSC SU
SUBJECT: 37th AEC PLENARY: ELECTIONS, FOREIGN EXCHANGE, AND JOINT
INTEGRATED UNITS

REFS: A. KHARTOUM 1629
B. KHARTOUM 1578
C. KHARTOUM 1531

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At the Assessment and Evaluation Commission's
(AEC) 37th plenary session on November 4, parties expressed concern
at the slow pace of preparations for the mandated 2009 national
elections, especially at the delays in adopting necessary
legislation and in naming the National Election Commissioners. The
meeting commended the efforts of the SPLM and the NCP to negotiate
an agreement to their dispute over foreign exchange reserves, and
agreed to maintain a "watching brief" (i.e. monitor) on the issue.
Parties also discussed support for the Joint Integrated Units
(JIUs), which lack equipment and training needed to fulfill their
mission. END SUMMARY.

CHAIRMAN'S INTRODUCTION
- - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) AEC Chairman Plumbly noted that in the past month, CPA
implementation had been pushed into the background by the Sudan
People's Initiative (SPI), intended to bring the Darfur conflict to
an end. He reported that, unfortunately, there had been no
significant progress in any of the five crucial areas identified in
AEC's Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) (Abyei, border demarcation,
elections, security issues, and preparations for the 2011
referendum) since the Evaluation was issued in July. Ambassador
Plumbly also noted that the AEC's Juba office was officially
scheduled to go into operation on November 5, and he introduced the
new Juba Head of Office, Dr. Rainer Baudendistel.

ELECTIONS
- - - - -
3. (SBU) The Coordinator of the Power Sharing Working Group,
Italian Ambassador Catoni, stated that he is very worried about the
pace of preparations for national elections, mandated by the CPA for
2009, which have entered a crucial period. Members of the National
Elections Commission (NEC) still have not been appointed, nor has
additional legislation necessary to conduct the elections --
including new security and media laws -- been enacted. He urged
that the parties keep in mind the importance of the election
timetable. [Note: The timetable is critical not only because the
CPA mandates elections happen by July 2009, but also because the
current session of Parliament is due to end on 23 December in
preparation for elections. The CPA states that the Parliament must
ratify the establishment of the NEC and appointment of its members
by two-thirds majority. End note.]

4. (SBU) UNMIS Chief Electoral Affairs Officer Ray Kennedy
reinforced Ambassador Catoni's comments, saying that under the CPA,
the feasibility of the election schedule should have been reviewed
no later than July 2008 (six months prior to the third anniversary
of the CPA's signing.) The elections will be a complicated process,
he noted, especially in the South, and before they can take place a
significant amount of work must be done which cannot be started
until the NEC is in place.

5. (SBU) CDA Fernandez commented that the United States also is
concerned by the absence of other election building blocks, notably
the press and security laws. He added that there recently has been
an increase in government interference in what had been a relatively
free media since the signing of the 2005 CPA (ref. A). This is not
conducive to creating the proper pre-electoral climate for
democracy.

6. (SBU) SPLM representative Kosti Manibe reported that the SPLM
and the NCP have agreed on all National Electoral Commissioners, but
have yet to identify a Commission Chairman and Deputy Chairman who
will accept the positions. These must be independent and respected
figures, and finding such people is proving difficult, he said. The
NCP remarked that the concerns raised by the partners should
properly be addressed to the government, not to the parties in the
AEC. Rather, the AEC could assist by identifying what the problems
are and who in the government has the responsibility. He added that
the AEC also could help by identifying actions that could be taken
prior to the formation of the NEC. Ambassador Plumbly concluded the
discussion by encouraging the parties to remain seized with the
review date, put the NEC in place, and take all possible prior
actions.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE DISPUTE
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Ambassador Plumbly reported that he and the AEC
Coordinators had been briefed on the issues involved in the dispute
between the GNU and the GoSS over control of foreign exchange (ref.
B). He noted that the two sides are continuing to work quietly,

KHARTOUM 00001671 002 OF 002


seeking a mutually agreeable solution to the dispute. CDA Fernandez
agreed that the parties are handling the dispute in a low-key
manner, and he urged them to resolve the issue quickly and quietly.
If not handled carefully, this dispute has the potential to escalate
into a major crisis, with serious consequences, he said. Ambassador
Plumbly concluded that the AEC Chair and the Wealth Sharing Working
Group should stay in close consultation -- a "watching brief" -- as
he put it, to monitor the situation and offer the AEC's assistance
in resolving the matter, should that become desirable.

JOINT INTEGRATED UNITS/JOINT INTEGRATED POLICE UNIT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) Ambassador Plumbly noted that support for the JIUs was one
of the five critical issues identified in the MTE, but that his
recent visit to several JIUs indicated that they are "neither joint
nor integrated," and that they are both under trained and under
equipped. He urged greater support for the JIUs both from the
government and from donors. The UK briefed on its mission to Abyei
the previous week and observed that equipping the JIU/JIPU there
remains an urgent priority. The UN reported that so far it has
received no response to its request to participate in meetings of
the Joint Defense Board (JDB) at which the JIUs were discussed.
Ambassador Plumbly noted that the MTE had recommended that UNMIS
participate at JDB meetings dealing with JIUs, but that even without
JDB approval, donors still could provide short-term material
support.

WORKING GROUP UPDATES
- - - - - - - - - - -
9. (SBU) Coordinators provided updates on the work of the four AEC
Working Groups. The Power Sharing WG Coordinator said that a
meeting to discuss the census with heads of the Central Bureau of
Statistics and the South Sudan Center for the Census and Statistical
Evaluation was planned for November 11. The Security WG planned a
trip to Southern Kordofan November 12-13. The Coordinators for
Three Areas WG and the Wealth Sharing WG (CDA Fernandez) reported
that their groups were in the process of completing work plans for
the coming months, based on the recommendations of the MTE.

COMMENT
- - - -
10. (SBU) The 37th Plenary highlighted the lack of progress in key
areas of CPA implementation, notably election preparations, but also
support for the JIUs. Stalled establishment of the NEC is not
entirely the fault of the NCP and the SPLM. However, both share
blame for the refusals by their agreed-upon NEC Chairman (Abel
Alier) and Deputy Chairman (Abdulla Idris) to take up NEC leadership
positions due to their doubt that they can oversee credible
elections within such a limited timeframe (ref. C). While it is
likely that the SPLM and the NCP will be able to find replacements
for Idris and Alier (or talk them into the positions) and establish
an NEC before Parliament dissolves, it is highly unlikely that the
security and media laws will be enacted by December 23. Lack of key
legislation will negatively affect electoral campaigning and
political party activity and may cause some opposition parties to
boycott the electoral process altogether.

FERNANDEZ

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