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Cablegate: Ncp Remove Governor of Upper Nile State, Creating New

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OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1309/01 3221429
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O 181429Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4766
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001309

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

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TAGS: PREL PINS SU
SUBJECT: NCP REMOVE GOVERNOR OF UPPER NILE STATE, CREATING NEW
TENSIONS BETWEEN DINKA AND SHILLUK

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 14, the Government of Southern Sudan
(GOSS) announced the removal of Upper Nile Governor Gatluak Deng
Garang and the new National Congress Party (NCP) nomination of
William Othwong Awer. While the NCP maintains control of the
governor's seat of Upper Nile State, any changes in Southern Sudan
must be approved and announced by the GOSS. The change in
governors, and the timing, is causing new tensions between Dinka and
Shilluk communities already poised for a new round of conflict in
the area. Speculation abounds on why the NCP is replacing the
incumbent Nuer governor with a Shilluk, however, some believe that
it is another attempt by the NCP to create divisions in an already
contentious political environment. GOSS officials remain hopeful
that the new governor will be able to reestablish calm in the area
and exercise influence over the restive Shilluk community. End
Summary.

---------------------------------
NCP Remove Governor of Upper Nile
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 14, the National Congress Party (NCP)
nominated, and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) approved, a
new governor for Upper Nile State, William Othwonh Awer, a Shilluk,
vice Gatluak Deng Garang, a Nuer. While there had been rumors in
the week leading up to the announcement, it took everyone by
surprise, and the incumbent governor in particular. A USG team
visiting Malakal, the capitol of Upper Nile State, met with the
incumbent governor, Gatluak, on Saturday, November 14, and only
learned afterwards of the announcement.

3. (SBU) Gatluak has refused to accept the NCP decision to remove
him. Gatluak claims he was not properly notified about his removal
from President Omar Beshir or the GOSS. He has also enlisted the
support of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Joint Integrated Units (JIU)
in Malakal to block the airport so that the incoming governor cannot
land and take office. The SAF JIU in Malakal consists mostly of
former Nuer militia from the area. Sources close to the governor
told us that the governor is now wearing a military uniform and
staying in his office.

--------------------------------
Dinka/Shilluk Tensions Intensify
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) before the announcement was made, there were reports of
Dinka and Shilluk tribesmen massing and arming around Canal in Upper
Nile State. Since the announcement, tensions between the two
communities in and around Malakal have increased. On November 15,
local government officials told us that Shilluk had celebrated in
the markets following the announcement of a Shilluk governor on
Saturday night, provoking a number of small incidents between Dinka
and Shilluk. The Dinka community is refusing to accept the new
appointment of a Shilluk governor.

5. (SBU) Some Malakal residents see the NCP decision to replace the
governor as further proof of the NCP trying to increase political
tensions in Upper Nile State. Many believe the NCP is trying to
sideline Nuer representation in the NCP by replacing the governor,
in line with other recent decisions on Riek Gai and Nuer positions
in the SAF. Others believe the NCP is possibly trying to support
the Shilluk and Lam Akol's SPLM-DC, who enjoy considerable support
in Malakal. While there are some differences of opinion about why
the NCP removed the incumbent governor and replaced him with a
Shilluk, it is clear that the decision will exacerbate tensions
between the Dinka and Shilluk communities in the state and probably
create new tensions between the Shilluk and Nuer.

-----------------------------
GOSS Officials Remain Hopeful
-----------------------------

6. (SBU) Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Deputy Secretary
General Anne Itto and Undersecretary for Presidential Affairs Cirino
Hiteng Ofuho spoke optimistically about the new governor on November
17. Cirino told us that while the new governor is a Shilluk who
split from the SPLM along with Lam in 1991, he subsequently fell out
with Lam later and joined the NCP. They are not believed to be
allies currently. The new governor is also reportedly a member of
the Shilluk royal family. Gatluak told us during our visit to
Malakal that the Shilluk king recently came out against Lam and the
SPLM-DC militia, and
Itto reported that both Minister of Internal Affairs Gier Chuang
Aluong and Minister of Regional Cooperation Oyai Deng Ajak --the
former a Shilluk-- have spoken with the new governor and believe he
will work to resolve some of the tensions between the Shilluk and

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Dinka and use his influence over the Shilluk community of Upper
Nile.

7. (SBU) Cirino explained that there is usually a balance of power
in Upper Nile State between the three major tribal groups. Recently
the balance was maintained as follows: governor - Nuer, the deputy
governor - Dinka, and the speaker of the state parliament - Shilluk.
Since the new governor is Shilluk, most believe the deputy governor
will be replaced by a Nuer and the speaker of the parliament by a
Dinka. No such nominations have yet been made, and the newly
nominated governor has yet to take his seat in Malakal.

8. (SBU) Comment: Although the reasons behind the removal of the
incumbent governor are still not clear, the nomination of William
Othwonh Awer, a Shilluk, will increase tensions in the already
volatile Upper Nile area. The UN and others are preparing for
possible clashes between the two communities which have been locked
in a cycle of tribal conflict since January 2009. Additionally, the
involvement of the SAF JIU in defending the incumbent governor could
trigger new problems between the SAF and SPLA JIU units in the area
if the SPLA are asked to intervene. End Comment.

WHITEHEAD

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