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Cablegate: Splm Signs Mou with Umma Party and Prepares for Trilateral

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OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1031/01 2501535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071535Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4384
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001031

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DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SU
SUBJECT: SPLM SIGNS MOU WITH UMMA PARTY AND PREPARES FOR TRILATERAL
TALKS AND POLITICAL PARTY CONFERENCE

REF: STATE 87508

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 5, the Southern People's Liberation
Movement (SPLM) and Umma parties signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) pledging Umma's support for free and fair
elections and for a referendum that allows the South to choose unity
with or separation from the North. Umma Party President Sadiq
al-Mahdi's visit to Juba comes a week before the SPLM's planned
conference at which all major political parties will discuss
upcoming elections, referenda, and democratic transition in Sudan.
Deputy SPLM Secretary General Anne Itto told Poloff that al-Mahdi's
visit and the MOU constituted a pledge of Umma support for the SPLM.
The SPLM Secretariat will meet on September 9 in Juba in advance of
the U.S.-led trilateral meetings. End Summary.


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SPLM and UMMA Party Sign MOU
----------------------------

2. (SBU) SPLM Deputy Secretary General Anne Itto told Poloff on
September 4 that the visit of Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the Umma
Party, represents support for and an endorsement of the SPLM. Itto
explained that al-Mahdi had expressed his party's commitment to free
and fair elections, supported a referendum that allowed for
voluntary unity or separation and a democratic transition that would
lead to a truly "new" Sudan. In public statements, Itto said,
al-Mahdi declared that it was still possible to maintain Sudan's
unity, but "for unity to be attractive, it must be on the basis of
justice and equality for all" in a new Sudan that accommodates all
citizens. In private, however, he was clear that he was in favor of
making self-determination "easier, simpler and more
straightforward," according to Itto.

3. (SBU) Itto explained that the Umma Party recognized the
importance of maintaining good relations with their "brothers in the
South" regardless of the outcome of a referendum on
self-determination. On September 5, after three days of talks, the
two parties signed the MOU, which, Itto said, would be an important
framework for the upcoming Political Parties Conference to be held
in Juba during September 11-15.

--------------------------------------------- ---
SPLM To Host Political Parties Conference
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) The upcoming conference has been in the works for three
months, Itto said. She noted that the SPLM has been transparent in
planning the conference, and has made clear that it is open to all
registered political parties. The purpose of the conference is to
bring together most major Sudanese political parties to discuss key
issues facing Sudan, including elections, referendum preparedness
and a democratic transition. Itto hopes that the parties will be
able to agree to a statement of principles at the conclusion of the
conference.

5. (SBU) While the SPLM wants all parties to take part, the National
Congress Party (NCP) set "too many" precondition on its
participation, Itto said. The NCP leadership insisted on the
inclusion of Lam Akol's SPLM-DC, which SPLM leadership refused to
accept. Itto and others in the SPLM believe the NCP is requesting
SPLM-DC attendance to create divisions in the SPLM. "Everyone knows
the NCP is supporting Lam," and that SPLM-DC would be a proxy for
Khartoum at the conference, she stated.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Machar-Taha Agree in Advance of Trilaterals Talks
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (SBU) Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek
Machar, returned to Juba on September 3 following direct talks with
Second Vice President of the Government of National Unity Ali Osman
Taha, Itto told Poloff. While a press release was issued from
Khartoum on September 2 laying out a number of agreed upon issues
regarding the referendum, Itto and other members of the SPLM
Secretariat were unaware of what had been agreed to in Khartoum.
Machar had neither informally briefed members of the SPLM
Secretariat nor briefed the GoSS Council of Ministers during the
Friday September 4 Cabinet meeting. Itto stated that the SPLM
Secretariat was meeting the evening of September 4, and that she
would question Machar on what had occurred and been agreed to in
Khartoum.

7. (SBU) Itto explained that of the three remaining issues, the
issue of what constitutes a quorum of voters in the elections and

KHARTOUM 00001031 002 OF 002


how to draw constituency boundaries would be the most difficult to
resolve. She did not see a lot of room for compromise, at this
stage, in the SPLM's position. Regarding the referendum commission,
Itto said she believes the national referendum committee seated in
Khartoum should retain the final say over the referendum, as
provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

8. (SBU) Comment: With the next round of trilateral talks set to
commence in the coming days, Machar's failure to brief the
Secretariat and Cabinet of Ministers in a timely manner is of
concern. We understand Machar plans to return to Khartoum to meet
with Ali Osman Taha sometime during the week of September 7 to
continue discussions on the three remaining issues. Without
consultation with others in the SPLM, it is unclear under whose
guidance he is negotiating. End Comment.
WHITEHEAD

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