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Cablegate: Delays Raise Concerns at Aec National Assembly Meeting

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1136/01 2040815
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230815Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7954

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001136

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF/EPS, EB/IFD, AND EB/ESC
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR, AND ALSO PASS USAID

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EFIN ECON SOCI AID SU
SUBJECT: DELAYS RAISE CONCERNS AT AEC NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEETING

REF:

1. (U) SUMMARY: In a July 16 Assessment and Evaluation Committee
(AEC) meeting at the National Assembly, the chairman, Mr. Tom
Vraalsen, and international observers expressed their concerns and
questions about delays in the formation of the Political Parties
Commission and National Civil Service Commission and the overall
slow rate of legislation. Responding to these and other concerns,
representatives from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
and National Congress Party (NCP) stated that the National Assembly
values consensus over voting and stated that many important acts are
almost complete. Occurring one week after the second anniversary of
the signing of the Interim National Constitution, this AEC meeting
provided an opportunity to reflect on the overall implementation of
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and signaled that the
Government of National Unity's (GNU's) deadlines for this
implementation grow closer with each passing day. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) After an overview of the National Assembly's work by Ghazi
Salahudin (NCP) and Aligo Manoa (SPLM,) Chairman Vraalsen expressed
his concern about the length of time taken by the Presidency to
establish both the Political Parties and National Civil Service
commissions. The National Assembly passed each of these bills in
February 2007 and neither commission has yet been formed. Vraalsen
added that six months is too long to form the Political Parties
commission, and if this commission's formation is delayed much
longer, there may be consequences for the timeframe of elections as
a whole. SPLM representatives seconded Vraalsen's concerns. (NOTE:
The Political Parties Act required the Political Affairs Commission
to be established 90 days after the act was passed by parliament. A
functioning commission is a prerequisite for elections. All
political parties must register with the commission in order to
participate in the 2009 elections. END NOTE.)

3. (U) International observers also asked for more information
regarding which bodies are responsible for initiating and drafting
laws. SPLM and NCP representatives stated that there is no single
mechanism for drafting or initiating laws, adding that the Council
of States, the Executive Committee, and different ministries have
all been involved in the legislative process. They stated that many
laws are based off of existing laws, with drafting privileges given
to the particular ministry affected. For example, the Sudanese
police helped draft and provide technical assistance for the
National Police Act, which will likely be passed in the next
session. They added that on other occasions the Council of
Ministers or presidential decrees have provided the initial impetus
and/or language for particular bills. SPLM representatives noted
that one delay on the Political Parties Act was the requirement that
all parties commit themselves to the CPA. "This is a requirement we
insist on," they noted.

4. (U) International observers also voiced their concerns about the
slow pace of legislation and its potential impact on the overall
timeframe designated by the CPA. Of the 47 laws designated for
revision by the Ministry of Justice, only seven have been reviewed
and enacted into law by the National Assembly. SPLM and NCP
representatives stated that in addition to the laws passed by the
assembly, there has been significant progress on a number of other
acts, the following of which have almost been finalized in draft by
the National Assembly: the Human Rights Act, the National Security
Act, and the National Police Act. These representatives urged
international observers not to concentrate on the number of bills
that remain, adding that a large number of bills require little
revision and will be quickly passed. When Chairman Vraalsen and
others voiced their concerns about the delay on the Media and Press
law, one representative from the National Assembly responded that
due to the relative freedom of press in Sudan, observers should not
be too concerned about its delay.

5. (U) SPLM and NCP representatives reported that the National
Assembly values consensus over voting, stating that the latter is
used only as "a last resort." They acknowledged that some observers
"say the Assembly is not effective, but we are doing our best in the
framework given." This consensus-building slows down the work of
lawmaking even though NCP/SPLM represents 80% of the National
Assembly's members.

6. (U) Draft minutes and the following handouts from the July 16
meeting have been e-mailed to the Sudan Programs Group:
- Overview on the work of the National Legislature and its
two Chambers
- Overview on the work and organization of the Council of
States
- Overview on the Council Performance
- Agreements passed by the National Assembly on December
14th, 2006 and to date
- Bills passed by the National Assembly from December 2006
until July 2007
- Report of the Peace and National Reconciliation Committee
on the position of CPA implementation
- laws for the 5th National Assembly Session

FERNANDEZ

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