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Cablegate: Deepening Spla Pay Arrears Threaten Discipine, Morale

VZCZCXRO3212
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1338 2461308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021308Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1797
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001338

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, SPG, AND EEB/IFD
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
DEPT PLS PASS TREASURY FOR OIA
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EFIN PHUM PINS MOPS ASEC SU
SUBJECT: DEEPENING SPLA PAY ARREARS THREATEN DISCIPINE, MORALE

REF: A. KHARTOUM 926
B. 2007 Khartoum 2001

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: SPLA morale and discipline are sagging as
soldiers face arrears in pay averaging two months, while some troops
reportedly have not been paid during the past six months. With
2008 funds already exhausted because of corruption and cost
overruns, there seems little prospect for relief in the near future.
The pay crisis also calls into question the GoSS' discipline and
capacity to keep spending within budgetary targets. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Despite a July 12 commitment by GOSS Finance Minister Kuol
Mawien to seek an extraordinary $250 million budget supplemental for
the SPLA, the South's military rank and file now average a two-month
delay in salary payments as of August 30. Outlying division
commanders report to the SPLA's payroll chief in Juba that select
units under them have not been paid in as many as six months. USG
contract personnel witnessed a recent exchange between one such
division commander and the paymaster. The latter expressed surprise
at the length of the delay, and promised to get an investigation get
underway. Significantly, he could not promise remedial compensation
would be offered, however. The budget supplemental, the first to be
considered by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in its
history, has yet to be tabled for parliament's consideration.

3. (SBU) In June, the SPLA initiated an unannounced 10 percent
salary reduction for all ranks. In the absence of any transparent
explanation by the SPLA's senior commanders, the surprise directive
has been implemented inconsistently. Some units report no impact,
while others report suffering a greater than 10 percent deduction,
fueling frustration within the ranks. One SPLA colonel grumbled to
a USG contractor: "Mathok probably did not get his pay cut,"
referring to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration, the
SPLA's second most senior officer. The pay-reduction order followed
SPLA Chief of General Staff Oyai Deng Ajak's May admission to ConGen
Juba PolOff that the SPLA will have exhausted its entire 2008
payroll by the end of July (ref. a). What was publicized belatedly
as an "interim measure" now has taken on an aura of permanence.
Rumors are circulating at Bilfam (the SPLA's Interim General
Headquarters in Juba) that some troops will not receive any pay for
the month of September.

4. (SBU) SPLA Chief of General Staff Oyai Deng Ajak told ConGen
PolOff that in July the Ministry of Finance had absolved the SPLA of
responsibility for the majority of military's budget overruns.
However, this reprieve has not permitted the SPLA to lift the
financial burden off the back of its troops. GOSS President Salva
Kiir Mayardit publicly pleaded for understanding and patience in an
extraordinary address to approximately 2,000 Juba-based troops in
mid-August. The President tied the SPLA's continuing financial
predicament to strains caused by the integration of an unexpectedly
high number of formerly non-aligned militias. SPLA Commanders
staffing the infantry training school in Malou, where the SPLA runs
the bulk of its debriefing and DDR programming, reported
approximately 600 new "militia colonels" had arrived at the facility
for integration interviews.

5. (SBU) Despite Kiir's August address, tensions continue. Unable
to identify any stop-gap revenue source, the SPLA is targeting
"areas of insecurity" within its ranks in order to maintain
discipline. In Unity State, the SPLA, supported by the Southern
Sudan Police Service and the SPLA contingent of that state's Joint
Integrated Unit, seized "unauthorized weaponry" in a house-to-house
search of the residences of SPLA personnel the week of August 10.
JIU Commander Thomas Cirillo told ConGen PolOff August 29 that a
similar campaign was being considered for Juba, following the
broad-daylight skirmish, on August 21, between ethnic Mundari and
Nuer SPLA soldiers in the center of Juba town. According to
Cirillo, SPLA Military Police investigating the incident believe the
dispute was sparked by two soldiers bragging over their receipt of
pay.

6. (SBU) Comment: In addition to the obvious impact on SPLA
cohesion, the pay arrearages call into question once more the GoSS'
financial management capacity. The vast bulk of the GoSS budget is
devoted to salaries, and much of that (49 percent) is allocated to
the SPLA. The 2008 budget (ref b.) was supposed to rein in
spending, avoid the budgetary (near) train wreck that occurred in
2007, and get the GoSS on the path to fiscal responsibility. The
SPLA's inability to meet its basic payroll obligations in 2008
suggests that the GOSS has a long way to go in managing its budget
and payroll.

FERNANDEZ

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