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Cablegate: President Al-Bashir Calls for Greater National Unity

VZCZCXRO2423
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2073 3651505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311505Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9640
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002073

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: PRESIDENT AL-BASHIR CALLS FOR GREATER NATIONAL UNITY

REF: KHARTOUM 1911

1. (U) SUMMARY: On 31 December, Sudanese President Al-Bashir
delivered a speech to the nation to celebrate the 52nd anniversary
of Sudanese independence. In the speech, the President stressed the
importance of national unity and consensus. He affirmed his
commitment to the CPA and alleged peace was alive in Darfur.
Al-Bashir also used the occasion to pardon 30 opposition members
accused of plotting against his regime and ordered their immediate
release. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Highlights from the speech are as follows:

"Independence was achieved through a national consensus which
included all political, tribal, ethnic, and religious spectrum. It
is therefore imperative to assimilate that consensus, maintain
coherence and foster unity by discarding all forms of division and
disparity and focus on all that secures the unity and will of our
nation and rally its energies for the struggle for reconstruction,
progress, and development."

"It is my firm intention to root out all causes of slackness,
shortcomings, and negligence in all government facilities and
bodies. I look forward to a revolution which targets all forms of
apathy, indiscipline, stagnation, and corruption."

"I have always maintained that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
signed on January 9th 2005, represents a landmark and a watershed in
the history of Sudan . . . This agreement would not have been
possible if we had not acknowledged the basic causes of the problem
and given it its proper name and diagnosed the infection which is
half way through to treatment and healing. Our treatment of the
causes has been effective and all-inclusive.

"We make such claim without any illusion of immunity against
committing mistakes and without expecting to move forward in
accordance to the text and letter of the agreement without some
obstacles and differences in understanding and interpretation of the
text. We have experienced and witnessed such difficulties and
obstacles in the past few days between the two partners to the
agreement. Some skeptics believed that it was the beginning of the
end to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They must have been
disappointed, for we will never allow a small spark to break out
into a big fire that will overwhelm our hope for peace and
stability".

"Our ultimate goal is tVQ-*VrDO
opposition members who were accused of government sabotage and
detained in mid-July. He said that the pardon was aimed at
"strengthening national reconciliation and opening a new page."
Among those pardoned were members of the Sudanese military, the
SPLM, as well as leading opposition figure Ali Mahmud Hussein, vice
president of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

4. (SBU) COMMENT. Al-Bashir's acquittal of political detainees was
one of the most important aspects of his address to the nation.
These exonerations follow the pardoning and release in early
December of a key opposition figure, Umma Party Reform and Renewal
leader Mubarak al-Fadil
al-Mahdi. By releasing the remaining detainees, Al-Bashir seems to
be heeding international and domestic pressure to demonstrate
political tolerance. With the NCP-SPLM impasse behind him,
Al-Bashir's pardons were a means of highlighting publicly that peace
partners' relationship is on the mend. As for his other remarks,
Al-Bashir hammered the point of national unity and consensus home
while ignoring that many obstacles remain in implementing peace
between the north and south and in Darfur. END COMMENT.

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