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Cablegate: Splm Political Bureau Considers Elections and Icc

VZCZCXRO9035
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1134 2111445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291445Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1452
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001134

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: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLM POLITICAL BUREAU CONSIDERS ELECTIONS AND ICC
INDICTMENTS

1. (SBU) Summary: Over the last three days ConGen Juba has held
separate discussions with four members of the SPLM Political Bureau
(PB) that met in Juba over the July 26 and 27 weekend and two other
senior members of the GOSS. Despite press reports that GOSS
President Salva Kiir has announced that he will run for the GNU
Presidency in 2009, Political Bureau members and others say only
that Kiir and the party have agreed to contest the elections at all
levels. The agenda of the PB meeting was entirely focused on what
strategy the SPLM should take to keep the CPA alive until 2011 in
the event that ICC judges hand down arrest warrants for GNU
President Bashir.

2. (SBU) Although opinions varied on the positive and negative
impact of the ICC indictments among the six contacts (some viewing
them as good pressure on Bashir and some as a potential threat to
the peace), all were focused on how to keep the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) on track no matter what the ICC judges decide. To a
person they view their primary objective as getting to the 2011
referendum so that the South can make a peaceful break with the
North. Not one thought there was any longer a hope of Sudan staying
united after 2011.

3. (SBU) Despite persistent press reports that Kiir announced he
will stand for the GNU presidency in 2009, all these members of the
SPLM reported that no such decision has yet been made. What the PB
unanimously agreed upon, they said, was that the SPLM would "contest
the elections at all levels, top to bottom." The clear implication,
they agreed, was that Kiir would run, but the actual decision has
not finally been made.

4. (SBU) The more candid of the 4 PB members admitted that the
problem Kiir faced was that it was highly unlikely he could win the
presidency of the GNU. For the most part, all of them believed that
Bashir, especially a Bashir indicted by the ICC, had no choice but
to hang on to power at any price, often quoting the Sudanese
proverb, "From the office to the grave." Bashir must either find a
way to cheat in the election, call it off, or stage a coup if he
loses. His only other option is 4o lose and go to prison, which all
agreed he would never consider.

5. (SBU) If Kiir runs for the GNU presidency and loses, he cannot at
the same time run fmr the presidency of the GOSS, an$ so he loses
all elected political positions. Asked who in the SPLM would run
for the GOSS presidency if Kiir did not, no one would even venture a
guess, let alone an answer. There is an unstated fear that, without
Kiir, GOSS VP Machar could be unchecked.

6. (SBU) What is being broadly hinted at is that Kiir will continue
to imply that he will pun for the GNU presidenay until the last
possible moment, without making an official comeitment to actually
do so. This, it is felt, will keep the pressure on Bashir to work
out sgme kind of electoral agreement acceptable to an SPLM whose
primary goal is not to win the national presidency, but to hold the
2011 referendum. As one of the five said, "It is time for the NCP
to decide if it wants half, or nothing." The implication was that
the SPLM might allow Bashir to steal or simply have the top spot on
the ticket without protest, provided that the SPLM and its allies
are allowed to control the National Assembly and write the 2011
referendum law. In that event, Bashir keeps his presidential
immunity, and tHe South gets independence. By holding off on an
announcement until late, Kiir can then still run for the presidency
of the GOSS at the last minute.

7. (SBU) Another scenario proposed by a PB member is that the ICC
indictments will place enough strain on the NCP that it will
facture, some in support of Bashir and some in support of an
alternate candidate. If an anti-Bashir faction of the NCP joined
with other political parties to elect a more moderate candidate from
the North, the SPLM might not contest the election at the top after
all, while still trying to win a majority in the National Assembly.

8. (SBU) Comment: SPLM electoral strategies are still nascent, and
given the ICC indictment of Bashir, political discussions are in
flux. It is difficult in an extremely volatile Sudan, made more so
by the ICC announcement, to read the political tea leaves a year out
from elections, though both parties appear intent on maintaining at
least the status quo. Although it may not be reasonable for the
SPLM to expect a majority in the parliament, a guarantee that they
can control the drafting of the referendum law will probably meet
their needs. The SPLM's guiding interest is to keep the CPA on
track until the 2011 referendum, and constant posturing regarding
elections should be viewed in that context.

FERNANDEZ

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