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Cablegate: Srsg Pledges to Push Sudanese Toward Elections

VZCZCXRO9262
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2041 3600728
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260728Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9609
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002041

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SRSG PLEDGES TO PUSH SUDANESE TOWARD ELECTIONS

REF: (A) KHARTOUM 2011

(B) KHARTOUM 1971
(C)KHARTOUM 1834

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On 23 December 2007, members of the Electoral
Donor Group (EDG) met with UN SRSG Ashraf Qazi to share concerns
regarding Sudan's preparation for the 2009 elections. The EDG is
worried that because the GNU has not passed the electoral law nor
established a National Electoral Commission (NEC), the CPA-mandated
timeline for the elections will either not be met or will be rushed.
The SRSG recognized the group's concerns and said that UNMIS, the
organization with the official mandate to assist the government in
carrying out the 2009 elections, will meet regularly with government
and political party leaders to encourage effective electoral
preparation. SRSG Qazi also reassured the group that UNMIS will
work closely with the donors on election preparation and execution,
as well as keep it updated on Sudanese electoral developments. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) SRSG Qazi recognized the lengthy delays in preparation of the
electoral law and appointment of an NEC. He stated his commitment
to push the NCP and SPLM leadership to pass the requisite
legislation that will allow electoral preparation to begin. Qazi
noted that elections that do not meet the July 2009 deadline will
"severely affect" the implementation of the CPA. Qazi will offer UN
electoral expertise and donor support through the EDG, though he
cautioned that he must do this gently, so as not to sour Khartoum on
working with the international community on elections. Ray Kennedy,
UNMIS Chief Electoral Affairs Officer, underscored that, based on
his experience with other elections, it is important to help Sudan
"own their process." Kennedy further stated that UNMIS hoped to
have a core team in place by March 2008, and that the team would
likely include more than 200 staff.

3. (U) Qazi expressed uncertainty that Khartoum will be willing to
formalize an UNMIS role on elections and acknowledged Khartoum's
early reluctance to allow international support for the elections.
Qazi contrasted Khartoum's attitude toward international support
with that of the government of Iraq, where he served as SRSG from
2004-2007. He said the UN will likely not have the same "active
role" in helping Sudan prepare for and execute its elections as it
did in the 2005 Iraqi elections. Nonetheless, Qazi said UNMIS would
create a high-level electoral steering committee, composed of donors
and NEC members that would meet regularly to discuss election
preparation timelines and activities.

4. (U) NOTE: This month, the GNU announced that it will extend its
parliamentary session through mid-January 2008 in order to review
and ratify the electoral law. The next parliamentary session begins
in April. END NOTE.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: SRSG Qazi appears eager to engage with the NCP and
SPLM on election issues. With a mandate to assist with elections,
UNMIS will play a central role in keeping the GNU partners on track.
However, as Qazi articulated, the Sudanese may not be receptive to
donor assistance. Though the SPLM has been receptive to assistance
in the south, UNMIS and other donors such as the Dutch share our
perception that Khartoum has thus far been reluctant to allow
international engagement. In order for donors to provide elections
assistance, the GNU must formally invite such assistance. SRSG Qazi
is hoping to persuade Khartoum to do so but may face an uphill
battle. The next key milestone will be passage of the elections
law, hopefully in January. Following that, the GNU will face
immediate inquiries from donors on how they may assist the electoral
commission.

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