Cablegate: 38th Aec Plenary: Elections, Border Demarcation, And

DE RUEHKH #1779/01 3490957
O 140957Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: 38th AEC Plenary: Elections, Border Demarcation, and
Security in Southern Kordofan


1. (U) SUMMARY: At its 37th plenary session on December 2, the NCP
and SPLM briefed the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC) on
progress in drafting and adopting key legislation, including new
security and media laws, necessary to carry out national elections
in 2009. The Power Sharing Working Group chair suggested that the
North-South Boundary Commission submit the draft report of its
findings to the Presidency as soon as possible, with reservations if
necessary. The Security Working Group reported that it found
worrying levels of tension and mistrust, and a proliferation of
small arms on its visit to Southern Kordofan and urged continued
vigilance. END SUMMARY.

Chairman's Introduction
- - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) AEC Chairman Derrick Plumbly noted important developments
since the November Plenary in the "priority" areas identified in the
AEC Mid-term Evaluation. The National Election Commission (NEC) had
been sworn in on November 17 (ref. A). He understood that the
Parties had agreed on a draft Media Law and that they would provide
a progress report later in the meeting. Ambassador Plumbly reported
that the AEC Secretariat was following up on the NCPs proposal at
the last plenary on how to link with the appropriate agencies of the
Government of National Unity on national election preparations (ref.
B). He said there has been no substantial change in the dispute
over foreign exchange, based on his discussions with the Finance
Ministers of the GNU and GoSS, but the two parties were continuing
to work together on a solution. He also noted that Sudan is under
growing pressure on a number of fronts, including the threat of an
International Criminal Court indictment of President Bashir and the
fallout from the global economic crisis, which is impacting the
Government of South Sudan in particular.

Election Preparations and Pending Legislation
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. (U) SPLM representative Kosti Manibe reported that the Parties
had made a commitment in principle to adopt all critical laws during
this session of the Assembly. He said that the NCP and SPLM are
discussing nine draft laws, of which two (the Land Commission and
Human Rights Commission Laws) had been gazetted in the National
Assembly. The Parties had agreed on a draft Media Law. Chairman
Plumbly added that he understood that the two sides also were close
to agreement on the Security Law, but there still were three or four
disputed points. The NCP reported that UNMIS-AEC-NEC are jointly
planning a workshop, at which veterans of other African elections
would share their lessons-learned. The Coordinator of the Power
Sharing Working Group, Italian Ambassador Catoni, applauded the
progress the Parties are making and said that Italy is prepared to
provide financial support through the AEC to the NEC.

CDA Criticizes Detentions, NCP Replies
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (U) CDA Fernandez also congratulated the two sides on their
progress, saying that while there remains a lot of work to do, the
United States is hopeful about the new legislation. He then raised
U.S. concerns about disharmony between observing the letter and the
spirit of the laws. He emphasized the need to create an enabling
and positive environment for the coming elections. He noted the
recent arrests by the authorities of Sudanese journalists and the
detention of human rights activists (ref C). While these actions
may be legal under current Sudanese law, he said, they are contrary
to the environment conducive to free and fair elections that we are
working to create. He hoped that the adoption of the new Media and
Security laws would bring with it a change from old practices.

5. (U) The CDA's remarks drew a testy response from the NCP.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Idris Abdelgadir replied
that the government's actions had been completely legal under
Sudanese law. The NCP demanded that the CDA's comments be stricken
from the minutes and said the NCP would not approve minutes in which
they were included, objecting specifically to the terms "abuse of
human rights and "ghost houses" used by the Charge.

6. (U) The African Union representative reported that its Peace and
Security Council had met the previous week in Addis and had
expressed concern at the amount of work that remains to be done
before elections can be held. The AU asks that it be kept informed
about the passage of key laws. He also asked whether the Parties
expect the elections to be held as scheduled and whether the
National Assembly would stay in office after the legislation is
passed. For itself, the SPLM replied that it is committed to
holding elections on time. The European Union endorsed the idea of

KHARTOUM 00001779 002 OF 003

an elections workshop, saying it would be a good opportunity to
share experience of other African countries.

Census Results Timing
- - - - - - - - - - -
7. (U) Kenya inquired about the timing of the release of census
results. Ambassador Plumbly responded that at its November 11
meeting with the Central Bureau of Statistics, the AEC had been told
that preliminary results will be by the end of December. He said
that given the political environment, the final results will be
extremely sensitive. He urged that the Parties consult together on
how they will be presented to avoid any problems when they are

North-South Border Demarcation
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (U) Chairman Plumbly referred to encouraging press reports about
progress in demarcating the North-South border. He asked whether
the Boundary Commission's report would be sent to the Presidency
soon. Ambassador Catoni reported that the Boundary Commission has
prepared a draft report of its findings, but that it is not ready
for transmission to the Presidency and he anticipated further delay.
He suggested that the report might be sent, with any reservations
included. Chairman Plumbly said that he hoped the Commission's
report would be sent to the Presidency soon, with reservations if

Southern Kordofan: Tension, Mistrust and Tribal Militias
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (U) UK Ambassador Marsden reported on the Security Working
Group's November 17-18 visit to South Kordofan, prompted partly by
the alarming, recent International Crisis Group report on the area,
to get an on-the-ground sense of the security situation there and
what additional measures need to be taken. She said the WG had
found a worrying level of tension, mistrust, and a proliferation of
small arms among tribal-based militias. She reported that local
tensions, and intermittent clashes, are tribal, rather than
politically, based, that each tribe has formed its own militia, and
the approaching seasonal migration could prove a catalyst for

10. (U) Ambassador Marsden said there is continuing mistrust
between the NCP and the SPLM in South Kordofan, including
disagreement over the security situation, with UNMIS and the
(NCP-controlled) state government reporting that the number of
incidents is declining, while the SPLM believes they are increasing.
The NCP and SPLM also disagree about the level of SAF forces in the
area. The WG was concerned by conditions it observed at Lake Abiad,
where 1500 SPLA soldiers who have redeployed from the Nuba Mountains
complained of lack of water and inadequate security for their
families. The governor asked for support for the 6000 JIU soldiers
in the state, who lack equipment and vehicles. On the positive
side, she said that 300 SPLM police and 1500 recruits are being
trained to integrate into the national police and urged that this
process be accelerated. In summary, Ambassador Marsden said the
visit demonstrated the need for continued vigilance.

11. (U) Dutch Ambassador Braakhuis (Coordinator of the Three Areas
WG) commented that secuity issues need to be seen in a broader
context. The risk of conflict can be reduced by delivering peace
dividends to the population and making adequate preparations for the
coming migration. He also urged that UNMIS Sector IV be proactive
in undertaking confidence building and crisis management.

Other Working Group Updates
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12. (U) The Norwegian Ambassador noted that his country would be
taking over as Coordinator of the Security WG from the UK at the
conclusion of the current plenary meeting. CDA Fernandez reported
that, with the SPLM absent, the Wealth Sharing Working Group held an
informal meeting on November 10 and approved a work plan for the
coming months. (Note: The SPLM had reviewed the work plan earlier
and provided comments, which were included. End note.) As part of
the work plan, the WG is placing a high priority on a meeting in
Juba, to hear from the GoSS about its progress on implementing
wealth-sharing provisions of the CPA and about capacity-building
needed to meet CPA objectives of placing more southerners in Sudan's
hydrocarbons sector and in the GNU Finance and Energy Ministries.
Dutch Coordinator Braakhuis of the Three Areas WG reported that a
draft work plan has been circulated for comment and they were
awaiting comments. He also noted that the Parties had met to
discuss the Abyei boundary dispute arbitration. A decision by the
Court of Arbitration is likely in June or July 2009 and the parties
should prepare for the announcement.

KHARTOUM 00001779 003.2 OF 003

African Union Peace and Security Committee Meeting
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. (U) Under "Any Other Business," the African Union reported on
the Peace and Security Committee meeting held in Addis the previous
week, at which the NCP, SPLM, UN and AEC Chairman had briefed on CPA
implementation. In an effort to raise its commitment to the CPA,
the AU plans to meet again on the subject every six months.
Chairman Plumbly commended the AU for its increased attention to the

- - - -
14. (SBU) Since the last AEC plenary, there was promising progress
in electoral preparations. Not only was theQEC sworn in, but
progress also was made in drafting the building block laws required.
However, a tremendous amount of work remains to be done, and it
remains to be seen whether either the NCP or the SPLM is committed
to holding elections at all. The NCP remains unapologetic about
using heavy-handed actions when it serves their interest, as
demonstrated by their angry response to the CDA's balanced,
behind-closed-doors criticism.


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