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Cablegate: Raised Voices and Hostility Revealed at Aec Plenary

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1338/01 2351357
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231357Z AUG 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8308

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001338

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR, AND ALSO PASS USAID

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EFIN PINS SU
SUBJECT: RAISED VOICES AND HOSTILITY REVEALED AT AEC PLENARY


1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: The 23rd session of the Assessment
and Evaluation's (AEC) plenary session led to many tense moments on
peripheral issues such as: the approval of prior minutes; the AEC
chairman's independence; and the status of the working groups'
reports on 'the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) after two years.' Given that the meeting focused more on
process than substance, the hostile and aggressive tone of the
meeting was both unexpected and unusual. The strong emotions,
raised voices, and heated exchanges, especially initiated by the
National Congress Party (NCP) representatives, signals that the tone
of the these meetings needs to improve as the AEC seeks to
effectively support CPA implementation. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

------------------------------
STARTING OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT
------------------------------

2. (U) The AEC meeting started off with a tense exchange between
Chairman Vraalsen and NCP representative Idris Abdelgadir, a State
Minister at the Presidency, on suggested amendments to the draft
minutes from the AEC Plenary Session held on May 15, 2007. Although
the actual point of disagreement was not discussed, Abdelgadir
adamantly insisted that if a party does not agree to the minutes,
they cannot be considered an official record of the meeting.
Chairman Vraalsen asserted that at least three note takers record
the proceedings of all AEC meetings and that they are an accurate
record. After a heated exchange, the debate ended with Vraalsen
declaring that the minutes are not approved, and sarcastically
saying, "Thank you for that pleasant exchange."

-----------------
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT
-----------------
3. (U) Vraalsen opened his formal remarks saying that the current
tone of the AEC and CPA implementation is marked by "patience, but
with an under current of growing impatience." He listed his
meetings in August which included visits with: the special envoy to
Sudan, Daniel Arap Moi (reftel A); the National Constitutional
Review Commission (NCRC); the former chairman of Fiscal and
Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission (FFAMC); and the
Chairman of the Statistical Bureaus of the North and South. [The
full text of the Chairman's report has been sent to AF/SPG.]

------------------------
CONTROLLING THE CHAIRMAN
------------------------
4. (U) Vraalsen ended his remarks describing the Sudanese Office
of the Presidency's attempt to control his attendance and public
remarks at regional meetings. Vraalsen stated that the African
Union invited him to make a presentation to the African Union's
Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) about CPA implementation
previously scheduled for August 22nd. Although Vraalsen had to
decline the invitation due to other obligations, he reported that
Vice President Ali Osman Taha told him that the AU "had no right to
convene such a meeting without consultations with the GNU" and that
Vraalsen would need prior approval of both his attendance and
expected public remarks at such meetings from the office of the
Presidency of Sudan. Vraalsen stated that Taha's actions and a
later letter from General Bakri Hassan Salih raises questions
concerning "the working methods, the authority, and the work space
of the Chairman of the AEC." Vraalsen then stated, "In view of the
importance of these questions, I have found it correct to bring the
issue to the attention of my employer, the Norwegian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs."

-------------------------------
STATUS OF WORKING GROUP REPORTS
-------------------------------
5. (U) The remainder of the meeting focused on status updates from
the various groups on the 'CPA implementation report after 2 years."
All working groups (i.e. the Three Areas, the Security, the Wealth
Sharing, and the Power Sharing groups) reported that having received
input from both the SPLM and the NCP, the reports are almost
complete. Several working group coordinators stated that finalizing
the reports remains a final, and often highly contested, challenge.
NCP representatives voiced their concern that the coordinators were
bypassing their mandate in becoming "mediators," that the SPLM took
too long to provide their input, and that mutually agreed upon
language was later changed to benefit the SPLM. Vraalsen expressed
frustration that the reports have taken 10 months to get to this
stage and questioned whether it would be better just to cancel the
reports all together. This drew a quick response from the NCP who
reconfirmed their support for drafting the report, stated that their
party has held extensive consultations with each coordinator, and
repeated that the SPLM was responsible for delays in submitting
comments and input.

--------------------------------
AEC TRANPARENCY AND MEDIA ACCESS


7. (SBU) COMMENT: Throughout the meeting, the NCP representatives
provoked many loud and angry exchanges. The debates about
Vraalsen's autonomy and AEC transparency appear to indicate that the
NCP representatives want to control information coming out of the
AEC, and may also signal an underlying hostility towards Chairman
Vraalsen and the authority he wields. Although the NCP
representatives were responsible for initQQ2#TQdQkhe draft minutes of the 23rd
AEC Plenary meeting
have been sent to AF/SPG. END NOTE.

POWERS

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