Cablegate: Wau: All Quiet in the Hinterlands, but in Need of More

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1. (SBU) Summary: The capital of Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in
South Sudan, Wau is both secure and eager for international
assistance. Operating in an ad hoc manner, local police have
managed to control tribal conflict and keep down petty crime, but
local government incompetence has hindered work by UN police
advisors to increase the professionalism of police officers. Wau's
Catholic bishop reported that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) has guaranteed religious freedom in the area, and the post-CPA
peace has provided the region with an influx of well-trained, if
somewhat pessimistic, young professionals. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In speaking with poloff November 17-19, numerous local
officials, UNMIS and NGOs confirmed that Wau and Western Bahr
al-Ghazal states in general boast secure roads, good cooperation
among government security organs, and a low level of tribal
conflict. To date, Wau has avoided the high incidence of crime and
traffic fatalities that plague Juba, and conflicts from neighboring
flashpoints, namely Abyei and Warrab, have yet to spill over to Wau.
Soldiers and militias from the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army
(SPLA) do not oppose the activities of the South Sudan Police
Services (SSPS), and there is little armed activity or cattle
rustling found in the surrounding areas. UNMIS's Sector II
headquarters' apparent lackadaisical security reinforces this
general perception, as the compound itself lacks armed gun turrets
at its corners, and relies only on a makeshift fence of local
materials and barbed wire for perimeter protection.

3. (SBU) SSPS Major Lino Angui, chief of Wau's downtown police
station and single city jail, explained to poloff that, in contrast
to other Sudanese cities, rival Sudanese security organs tend to
cooperate in Wau, and his office actually relies on them for
assistance. Both the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security
Services and the SPLA regularly bring suspects to the city jail,
calling on the SSPS to then open an investigation. With no official
vehicles, and most of his staff coming to work by bicycle, Angui
said he is limited in his capacity to police the town and performs
mostly reactive services. However, as a claim to his law enforcement
prowess, Angui cited the recent conservative backlash in Juba over
pants-wearing and "hip-hop"-style youth mannerisms, saying that his
office had personally solved the same problem in Wau without having
to issue edicts. Claiming that young men in Wau, under the
influence of American rap music, had attempted to abscond with
underage girls into the forest, Angui counseled the boys about the
dangers of alcohol and pre-marital sex before releasing them to
their parents. Angui said he believes that his pro-active policing
reduced the chance of future bloodshed in the conservative town,
adding, "We must stop them before they take a Dinka girl into the
forest, because then the Dinkas will start fighting."

3. (SBU) Mike Taylor, a UNMIS Civilian Police Advisor working for
UNPOL in Sector II for the last year, said that the local government
has acted as a stabilizing mechanism, even contributing to stability
in the rural areas of the Bahr al-Ghazal region. "Within Sector II,
we have a lot of knowledgeable and forward-thinking people who want
to progress," and these factors, combined with a low level of tribal
conflict between the dominant Dinka, Luol and Balanda tribes, have
turned Wau into a fairly placid African savannah town. Taylor summed
up the situation plainly: "Even when the rest of the country goes to
hell, I don't see it going to helle here."

4. (SBU) Taylor called Wau "fertile soil" for international efforts
to train SSPS officers and recruits, but was disappointed that UNMIS
lacked a clear strategy for increasing the overall professionalism
of the SSPS. "These are by far the most eager police recruits I've
ever seen," said the former Virginia deputy sheriff who previously
worked with UNPOL in Baghdad and Kosovo. "UNMIS, however, is
incredibly under-resourced in terms of police training and
equipment. We train 225 students but have no handcuffs, no training
guns, no batons. We teach them how to avoid using a gun, and at the
end of training the only tool we then give them is a gun." Taylor
said that to round out the SSPS's proto-military training for all
recruits, his office managed to initiate a nascent police academy
for 225 new officers in a tent on the grounds of police headquarters
in Wau, in addition to training for 300-plus recruits in the open
air in the nearby town of Kujok. But when the police ran out of
money to feed the recruits, four weeks into a 16-week program, UNPOL
had to suspend the program and send the recruits home until funds
arrive following the new year.

5. (SBU) Head of UNICEF's efforts in Wau, Resident Program Officer
Carmen Garrigos told poloff that her staff maintains a very positive
relationship with the local government and enjoys a high level of
humanitarian security. UNICEF considers its biggest challenge in
Wau as ensuring that the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) develops

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the region's health and education infrastructure, investing as much
there as they do in greater Equatoria. Regarding the "lost
generation" of youth who spent their formative years in the bush,
Garrigos said, "The lost generation is lost, but now no partner is
doing enough to build vocational training centers for them," she
said, adding, "There are not enough funds for alternative learning
and adult education." Lucia Soleti, UNICEF's child protection
officer in Wau, cited as an example that in the greater Bahr
al-Ghazal region, fewer than ten percent of all births are
registered with the government. "Resources are not completely
trickling down to Wau - the efforts to intervene are strong, and the
interest is strong, but the capacity of the GOSS is weak."

6. (SBU) Bishop Rudolf Deng, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Wau,
spoke with poloff to express optimism that the CPA has guaranteed
religious freedom in western South Sudan, even while the area has
yet to fully recover from the ravages of 50 years of war. "It is
very difficult to reconstitute the size and the shape of our diocese
following the civil war," he said, as the diocese, once 24 church
parishes strong, is now currently composed of 8 parishes. "But now
we can hold assemblies, and I don't have to look over my shoulder.
For the first time in 50 years we can enjoy religious freedom." As
head of the Catholic Bishops' Committee of South Sudan, Deng said he
and his fellow bishops are most concerned that parties within South
Sudan, including the SPLM, are not working for the proper
implementation of peace accords. In response to this, the bishops
issued a letter to be read this Sunday at all masses in South Sudan,
urging all parties not to distract themselves from the ultimate goal
of lasting peace accords.

7. (SBU) Poloff spoke with two former child soldiers and refugees
who recently returned to Wau after attending high school and
university in Uganda. Romano Opiyo and Martin Nyuyio, employees at
the Ministry of Information and the South Sudan Disarmament,
Demobilization and Resettlement Committee, respectively, began by
expressing their thanks to the U.S. for the CPA. "We never imagined
we would see peace in our home," said Opiyo, who at 27 has lived in
Sudan for the last two years after fleeing at age 12. Both young
professionals said they returned home to contribute to the
development of Wau, and had even started their own registered NGO
with several friends. But neither was optimistic that the
authorities would succeed in tackling the problems of unemployment,
poverty and underdevelopment. "They can't help because they don't
know what to do," Nyuyio said.

8. (SBU) Comment: Wau is a model in South Sudan for how important
goals of the CPA - good governance, religious freedom, humanitarian
security - can successfully be accomplished by state governments.
However even here there is still much that remains to be done to
consolidate the CPA and build capacity. But this is true not just
in Wau, but all across Southern Sudan, one of the least developed
places on earth, where due to decades of war capacity is weak and
the potential for conflict remains strong. Continuing plans to
decentralize power and funding from the central government in Juba
to the states should continue, which allows for places like Wau to
better manage their own affairs. The problem will be in states with
weaker and more corrupt state governments, where mismanagement could
well lead to increased tribal and ethnic tensions. The lessons
learned in Wau, however, show how it can and should be done, and can
serve as a model for other states.


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