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Cablegate: Splm Ministers Sworn in, Pagan Amum Is Minister of Cabinet

VZCZCXRO0215
RR RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2053/01 3611226
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271226Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9623
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 002053

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KSCA OTRA EAID CDC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM MINISTERS SWORN IN, PAGAN AMUM IS MINISTER OF CABINET
AFFAIRS

1. (SBU) The GNU announced a cabinet reshuffle December 26 as part
of a deal that ends the two-month long crisis provoked when the SPLM
walked out of the government in mid-October 2007. The new ministers
were sworn in December 27 at 11:30 a.m. local time, and were
expected to take part in their first cabinet meeting later in the
day. The most notable and unexpected assignment in the reshuffle
brings SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum into the government as
Minister of Cabinet Affairs. Amum is known to be a leading
proponent of national unity within the SPLM, which the NCP hopes to
benefit from in the lead-up to elections in 2009. As expected, Deng
Alor becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs. The reshuffle confirms
that SPLM wayward members have been sidelined, as Lam Akol, Telar
Deng and Alieu Alieu will have no portfolios under this reshuffle.

2. (SBU) Following is the list of the new Cabinet appointments:

NEW PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORS
-------------------------

-- Dr. Mansour Khalid;
-- William Ajak Deng. Ajak, a Bor Dinka from Garang's family, is a
university professor not well known in Khartoum's political
circles.
-- Andrew Mackour.

MINISTERS
---------

-- Pagan Amum, Minister for Cabinet Affairs;
-- Deng Alor, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
-- James Kok Rew, Minister of Foreign Trade. Kok was close to the
late John Garang and former chairman of the Peace Commission in
Southern Sudan. His nomination for this position has been
criticized in some circles because he only has a high school
education.
-- Philip Ton Lek, Minister of Transport, Roads and Bridges;
-- Kosti Manibe, Minister of Investment. The former Minister of
Humanitarian Affairs, Manibe has been the mainstay among the SPLM's
negotiators on the CPA's Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC).
He is from Western Equatoria.
-- Dr. Haroun Ton Lual, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs. A
Catholic priest, he is a member of the Mellut Dinka tribe in Upper
Nile State. He only recently joined the SPLM; he was reportedly
given this position to satisfy the Dinka of the Upper Nile.
-- Prof. George Boreng Niami, Minister of Higher Education and
Scientific Research. The former Minister of Foreign Trade is from
Equatoria and is a leading figure in the SPLM.

STATE MINISTERS
---------------

-- Lual Achweil Luwal, State Minister at the Presidency of the
Republic;
-- Abbas Juma'a Ebeid Alla, State Minister of Interior;
-- Wek Mamar Kual, State Minister of Justice. Wek is a brigadier in
the SPLA;
-- Abosh Ajok Ako, State Minister of Agriculture; Abosh is from
Tong; he was a comrade and supporter of SPLA commander Kerubino
Kuwanin, who was assassinated;
-- Bol Marial Dot, State Minister of Industry;
-- Ismail Khamees Jallab, State Minister of Animal Resources.

RESHUFFLE HIGHLIGHTS TRIBAL POLITICS IN SOUTH
------------------------------------------

3. (U) A significant portion of the Khartoum press coverage of the
reshuffle focuses on the various tribal affiliations of the new
cabinet ministers. Members of the Dinka tribe, the predominant
tribe in Southern Sudan, certainly receive the lion's share of the
new appointments. This perceived imbalance will do nothing to
redress dissatisfactions among minority tribes in the South at Dinka
ascendancy. Tribal conflicts are one of the leading causes of
political instability and violence in the South.

ABYEI AND ELECTIONS LAW
-----------------------

4. (SBU) Aligo Manoa, leader of the SPLM caucus in the National
Assembly, told emboffs there could be an interim agreement on Abyei
before the three-year anniversary of the CPA on January 9, 2008. He
said this would probably include a temporary administration, despite
SPLM concerns that it violates the sequence stipulated in the CPA.
(Note: The Abyei Protocol says the ABC report should first be
accepted, then a border demarcated, and finally a temporary
administration put in place based on the border outlined in the ABC
report.) Manoa said the Presidency will address the Abyei issue
over the next two weeks, with an interim compromise likely to be
hammered out before January 9. Both Manoa and contacts from the NCP
believe that the elections law will be passed in early January
(septel) allowing preparations for the 2009 election to commence.


KHARTOUM 00002053 002 OF 002


WHAT DOES PAGAN AMUM'S APPOINTMENT MEAN?
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) There is considerable speculation among observers in
Khartoum as to what the appointment of Pagan Amum as Minister for
Cabinet Affairs will mean, and how his appointment will affect his
current SPLM party leadership role. Northern observers speculate
that the NCP hopes to draw on Amum's stated preference for unity in
2011. Southerners fear that the NCP may attempt to co-opt Amum, cut
him off from SPLM membership in the South, or weaken the SPLM by
burdening a key SPLM leader with administrative issues in Khartoum.
A more positive reading is that the NCP wants to streamline cabinet
decision-making by bringing key Southern leaders within the fold in
Khartoum.

6. (SBU) Manoa claimed that the NCP wants Pagan Amum to be Minister
of Cabinet Affairs in order to weaken the SPLM. He pointed out that
although the NCP considers Amum to be pro-unity, originally Pagan
Amum began his political activity as a member of "Anyanya-2," a
southern separatist movement in Khartoum. Manoa also pointed out
that there are others who could take over for Amum as Secretary
General of the SPLM, such as Abdel-Aziz Helou, who recently returned
from the U.S.

7. (SBU) NCP member Abdulla Idris, Co-Chair of the National
Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) who was Pagan Amum's law
professor at the University of Khartoum, said Amum was chosen for
his ministerial slot so that he would be more accessible to the GNU.
With Amum in Khartoum rather than in Juba, he said decisions could
be taken more quickly, particularly in view of his decisiveness.

COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) With the cabinet crisis behind them, the NCP and SPLM
should be able to move forward on critical items such as the
national electoral law and the census. The appointment of Amum as
Minister of Cabinet Affairs now places the SPLM's two top leaders -
GOSS President Kiir and Secretary General Amum - regularly in
Khartoum, which could in fact streamline decision-making within the
GNU. Moreover, by bringing the SPLM's leading advocate for national
unity into the GNU during the run-up to the national elections, the
NCP may hope to strengthen the chances for unity during a critical
period. Amum is a mercurial figure, however, and not one to back
down easily from conflict. Only a month ago Amum was ratcheting up
the war of words and threatening a return to war. The NCP may be
getting more than it bargained for.

9. (SBU) Although Foreign Minister Deng Alor is expected to be more
sympathetic to U.S. interests than his predecessor, we do not expect
him to have too much room for maneuver. While Alor may be able to
facilitate some issues, he will still need to act in accordance with
the wishes of President Bashir. Some observers point out that Alor
is now placed in almost impossible position, sandwiched between the
international community on one side and the NCP on the other. He
will be hard-pressed to please both, and risks being sidelined if he
strays far from Bashir's policy. NCP hardliners Ali Karti and
Mutrif Siddiq retain their portfolios in the Ministry.

POWERS

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