Cablegate: Al Mahdi Discusses Sudan Political Dynamics

DE RUEHEG #2180/01 3231536
P 191536Z NOV 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002180



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2019

REF: STATE 109669

Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Key Points: -- Former Sudanese PM Al Sadiq Al Mahdi told Polmincons on November 2 that the new U.S. policy on Sudan (reftel) indicates an increased U.S. willingness to pressure the NCP to reform. He said the April 2010 elections are an opportunity for change, but U.S. support is needed to ensure fair and free elections. -- Al Mahdi is working with other opposition parties to forge a "national consensus" after the NCP refused to participate in the late September Juba Conference. He is trying to orchestrate pressure on NCP officials to change their minds and accept the conference's recommendations, and he asked for the U.S. to assist. -- According to Al Mahdi, the recommendations of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) panel headed by Thabo Mbeki represent the best chance for peace in Darfur. He urged the U.S. to support the recommendations. -- Al Mahdi believes the current lack of cooperation between the NCP and SPLM could take Sudan "back to square one and the politics of war." He said the recent statement by Government of South Sudan (GOSS) President Salva Kiir encouraging independence was "unfortunate" and showed a "lack of judgment." -- Al Mahi said Egypt should take a more active role in resolving Sudan crises; he contended that current Egyptian policy favors the NCP and the status quo because change in Sudan could create instability that would resonate negatively in Egypt. --------------------- Pressure Can Sway NCP ---------------------

2.(C) Al Sadiq Al Mahdi told Polmincons November 2 that the new U.S. policy on Sudan "struck the right note" by advocating pressure on the NCP to reform. He said pressure is the only tool that works to change the NCP's one-sided approach (he cited the internal and external pressure surrounding the NCP's acceptance of the Declaration of Principles in 1997 as an example). Al Mahdi praised S/E Gration's willingness to engage all Sudanese parties and encouraged him to convoke a panel of "various Sudanese" (NFI) to hear their ideas on the way forward. -------------------------------------------- Seeking NCP Adherence to Juba recommendations --------------------------------------------

3.(C) Al Mahdi said the September 26-30 Juba Conference was held to develop a "national consensus" aimed at resolving internal conflicts and promoting national reconciliation and democratic transformation. Although Al Mahdi said he personally invited the NCP to attend and gave assurances of fair treatment, the NCP ultimately did not attend due to pressure from "NCP hawks." Afterward, he attended the NCP convention to convince the NCP to support the Juba recommendations, but was rebuffed. Al Mahdi is currently trying to get the Juba participants to pressure NCP officials to accept the recommendations, and suggested the U.S. encourage the NCP to engage with the Juba Conference participants. ------------------------------------ Elections: An Opportunity for Change ------------------------------------

4.(C) Al Mahdi said the April 2010 elections represent an opportunity for change, but U.S. support is needed to ensure "the neutrality of state institutions" that will facilitate fair and free elections. He said the opposition is not seeking a "knockout" of the NCP, but wants the regime to resolve the issues of Darfur, CPA implementation, the census, and the referendum to set the environment for the elections. Al Mahdi said Sudanese President Bashir has no desire for democratic elections, but plans to use them to legitimize his rule and protect him from the ICC. Al Mahdi appealed to the donors who will finance the elections to ensure they will not be "faked" by the NCP because this could lead to a "national uprising." CAIRO 00002180 002 OF 002 --------------------------------------------- ---- Mbeki Report: The Best Chance for Peace in Darfur --------------------------------------------- ----

5.(C) Al Mahdi said the AUPSC/Mbeki recommendations represent "the first proposal for peace based on proper diagnosis of the problems in Sudan." He appealed to the U.S. to support the recommendations as they represent "the best chance for peace in Darfur." He noted that Darfuri groups have been negative on the Mbeki report, but asserted they need to be "dragged in" because none are singularly powerful enough to govern Darfur. He believes the endorsements of Khalil Ibrahim, Abdel Wahid Al Nur and Minni Minawi are needed because they are "symbols of Darfur." ----------------------- Analysis of South Sudan -----------------------

6.(C) Al Mahdi said the CPA has not succeeded because it is not "comprehensive." He maintained that the CPA encourages secession because it puts emphasis on sharing oil wealth, rather than national wealth, and divides Sudan into northern Islamic and southern secular constituencies. Al Mahdi said he is concerned that current lack of cooperation between the NCP and SPLM on implementing the agreement could take Sudan "back to square one and the politics of war."

7.(C) Responding to our query about GOSS President Salva Kiir's recent statement encouraging South Sudanese to choose independence, Al Mahdi put his head in his hands. He said Kiir's statement was "unfortunate" and showed a "lack of judgment." Al Mahdi believed the statement reflected Kiir's frustration and bitterness at the NCP for not allowing the SPLM to have a voice in the Sudanese Government. He said he had contacted Kiir and encouraged him to "change his language;" the two had agreed to work to make unity attractive or alternatively a two state solution with a "special relationship on fraternal terms," in contrast to the disastrous experience of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Al Mahdi told us the leaders of the Catholic and Protestant churches in Juba were not concerned with unity or independence, but rather with "saving lives" in South Sudan. According to Al Mahdi, they are seeking assistance in controlling tribal violence, providing healthcare, and stopping the famine in the south. -------------------------------------- Egypt Needs to Take a More Active Role --------------------------------------

8.(C) Al Mahdi said a more active Egyptian and Saudi approach to resolving the problems in Sudan could pressure the NCP to join the "national consensus." However, he said current Egyptian policy favors the NCP and the status quo because the GOE fears secession will threaten Egypt's Nile water supply and create an Islamic state in northern Sudan. On the other hand, Al Mahdi believes Egypt fears a democracy in a united Sudan would act as a different example, equally threatening to the Egyptian regime. Scobey

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