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Cablegate: Michael Makuei and the Splm Ethnic Balancing Act

VZCZCXRO8225
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1123 2091350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271350Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1434
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001123

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: MICHAEL MAKUEI AND THE SPLM ETHNIC BALANCING ACT

1. (SBU) Beyond the increasingly standard array of agenda items
linked to the SPLM/NCP relationship and the CPA's implementation,
this weekend's SPLM Political Bureau meeting, the party's first
since the National Convention, will focus mainly on neutralizing the
constant threat to Southern stability posed by tribal politics. A
major consideration the Political Bureau will deal with is how to
balance Southern tribal and ethnic considerations in filling
significant vacancies within the GOSS, and how to craft a party
nominating system whereby SPLM candidates are selected for what they
can contribute politically, not what ethnic group they represent.
Already, Kiir's attempts to effect a reshuffle purely on the basis
of qualifications have been considerably impinged by repeated
refrains from senior advisors and party elders such as Joseph Lagu
to keep the SPLM and GOSS "balanced for the sake of a unified
South."

2. (SBU) Of particular significance in this ethnic balancing act is
the fact that Minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional
Development Michael Makuei Lueth - a Dinka and chief architect of
the CPA - is no longer a Political Bureau member. Makuei stepped
aside in order to make room for Minister for Industry and Mines (and
leading Nuer negotiator) John Luk Jok. With Jongelei State's
remaining seats within the Political Bureau filled by Dinka from Bor
town (Governor Kuol Manieng and Presidential Advisor for Gender and
Human Rights Rebecca Garang), Makuei told ConGen Juba he felt he
needed to take this action in order to refute those who "continue to
grumble about Dinka domination of the party." While generally
respectful of the Vice President's standing as Vice Chairman, Makuei
also acknowledged that Jok was a necessary counter weight within an
SPLM leadership actively worried about the machinations of devious
GOSS VP Riek Machar. "(Jok) can keep him in check, and not allow the
Vice President to speak as if he represents all Nuers."

3. (SBU) Makuei, at sixty-one, remains one of Sudan's foremost legal
scholars and a valued counselor to SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit
- this despite his occasionally fierce criticism of decisions taken
by Kiir's inner circle within the Presidency. Kiir brought the
minister into the SPLM's pre-ICC indictment Crisis Management Team
meeting, changing the gathering's name so that Makeui could be
included despite his lack of titular leadership status.

4. (SBU) Makuei has said privately that he is not interested in
running for office at any level during the 2009 elections, and
admits he has angered local-constituency elders through his decision
not stand to represent them again in the Southern Sudan Legislative
Assembly. While likely too partisan for the NCP to accept on the
National Elections Commission, his removal from the Political Bureau
coupled with Kiir's need to keep him close has transformed Makuei
into a presumptive appointee for the South's High Committee on
Elections. The High Committee is a far-less powerful and far more
subordinate counterpart to the National Elections Commission.

5. (SBU) Comment: While unlikely that the GOSS will part with
Makuei's services before 2011 regardless of his own feelings on the
matter, should he be appointed to the High Committee, this entity's
ability to keep Khartoum focused on South-specific timelines in
advance of the elections will be significantly strengthened by the
weight and negotiating experience he would bring to that body. His
familiarity with NCP officials who negotiated the CPA would be an
advantage as well.

FERNANDEZ

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