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Cablegate: Voter Registration Lags in Southern Sudan

VZCZCXRO5771
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1323/01 3271214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231214Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4779
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001323

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM KPKO SU
SUBJECT: VOTER REGISTRATION LAGS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1281 B) KHARTOUM 1165 C) KHARTOUM 1262

1. (SBU) Voter registration in Southern Sudan continues to move
slowly and to be hampered by organizational, funding and logistical
challenges. Percentages of registered voters in the south lag far
behind the overall totals of registered voters in other parts of
Sudan. Lack of clear policies, guidance, and resources prevails at
all levels, but primarily between the National Election Commission
(NEC) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and State Election
High Committees (SEHCs). The GOSS and Sudan People's Liberation
Movement (SPLM) have voiced concerns over the process and the need
for an extended additional time for registration period in Juba, at
the National Elections Committee (NEC) Policy Committee meeting, and
at the South Sudan Opposition Conference in Khartoum. End Summary.

----------------------------------
LOW TURNOUT PLAGUES SOUTHERN SUDAN
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Low voter registration turnout plagues Southern Sudan.
According to NEC registration statistics from November 17, less than
seventeen percent of eligible voters in Southern Sudan have
registered, compared with thirty-four percent in the North.
International observers from the Carter Center and UNMIS report
seeing no more than five voters at a station in a given day in some
areas. On November 17, UNMIS reported that there has been a
significant increase in the number of registrations since November
11, which began the GOSS's week-long registration drive. Jerome
Leyraud, International Federation of Election Supervisors (IFES)
Country Director attributes low voter turn-out to a lack of
information about the election process and voter registration in the
South as well as a lack of "motivational messaging" from the
government and political parties. Mobile registration sites have
also made it difficult for State High Committees to pinpoint
registration sites in advance, thereby complicating the task of
providing up-to-date schedules to the public.

---------------------------------------------
OBSTACLES HINDERING REGISTRATION IN THE SOUTH
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) There are a number of reasons for low voter turn- out in
the South. First, many of the registration centers opened late due
to logistical challenges and delays in training registration staff.
This was particularly acute in the South. Ray Kennedy, UNMIS Chief
Electoral Affairs Officer, told poloff that logistics also hindered
election preparation, and some registration centers opened late,
particularly in Western Equatoria. Deputy Secretary General for the
SPLM Anne Itto explained other causes for the current low voter
turn-out. Itto was specifically concerned about logistics, funding
and communications restraints. USAID funded the voter registration
materials, and UNMIS was to have transported material to the states.
While UNMIS provided some support in getting registration materials
out to state capitals, some states have had difficulties
distributing materials internally due to the lack of logists and
funding. Itto said that she was informed on November 17 that both
Yei and Wau were running out of registration materials and there
were problems in getting more to them. Itto said that three of the
six registration centers in Yei had closed due to these shortages.
Itto told poloff that the State Election High Committees (SEHC) have
only received twenty percent of the funding promised to them from
the NEC. In recent meetings in Rumbek and Malakal, state governors
and other officials were troubled by the failure of the SEHCs to
engage and coordinate with local governments in facilitating
registration.


--------------------------------------------
GOSS CONCERNS FALL ON DEAF EARS IN THE NORTH
--------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) During a NEC Policy Committee Meeting on November 12,
officials from the GOSS Ministry of Regional Cooperation raised
concerns about voter registration in the South with the NEC Deputy
Chairman, Professor Abdulla Abdulla. The Southerners stated: "Voter
registration has been very poorly done in the South. Information
been inadequately distributed and there is an urgent need for an
information campaign". The officials noted concern about the lack
of responsibility and funding for the Southern Sudan High Election
Committee (SSEHC), and pleaded with the NEC to facilitate the SSEHC
to act as coordinator in the South. Abdulla objected and reiterated
that the NEC does not see an SSEHC role in registration and
therefore would not fund it. (Note: The Electoral Law does not
provide a clear mandate for the SSEHC vis-a-vis the SEHCs. The NEC
provides direct guidance to the SEHCs. End note.) Abdulla dismissed
GOSS concerns about political space issues and countered, "We need

KHARTOUM 00001323 002 OF 002


to be clear what are facts and what are rumors."

------------------------------------
GOSS ASKS FOR REGISTRATION EXTENSION
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) According to Minister Oyai Deng Ajak, GOSS Minister of
Regional Cooperation, Southern President Salva Kiir met Abel Alier,
Chairman of the NEC, on November 13 to discuss GOSS "unhappiness"
with the election process to date, including instances of
"malpractice." According to Oyai, Alier agreed to be more
consultative and to work with GOSS and the SSEHC as opposed to
directly with the SEHCs. Oyai claimed that Kiir requested a one
month extension in the registration process, which Alier said the
NEC would consider.


--------------------------------------------- -
SOUTHERN OPPOSITION BLAMES SPLM FOR INSECURITY
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) Southern opposition parties and the National Congress Party
held a "Southern Sudan Political Parties: South-South Dialogue"
conference in Khartoum from November 14 through November 16. (This
conference was dominated by anti-SPLM rhetoric, and it is widely
accepted that the NCP funded the event.) Parties with significant
constituencies in the South, including the United Democratic Party
(UDP), United Sudan African Party (USAP), Sudanese People's
Liberation Movement- Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), the Southern Sudan
Democratic Front (SSDF) and Sudan African National Union (SANU)
participated. All parties commented on a lack of education about
voter registration and on requisite low voter turnout. The Southern
parties blamed the GOSS for its inability to maintain security. Lam
Akol, Chairman of the SPLM-DC, stated, "Security has almost broken
down as inter- and intra-tribal fights engulf most of the States of
Southern Sudan, from Warrap, through Jonglei to Upper Nile...." (ref
c). The Southern Political Parties collectively expressed their
general dissatisfaction with the election process.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite Abel Alier's offer to consider extension
of the registration period in Southern Sudan, the NEC remains
predominantly focused on elections in the North. Election experts
stated than an extension of the registration period alone will not
solve the problem. Additional education campaigns, assistance to
SEHCs, and logistics planning will be necessary to ramp up the
turn-out in the South.


WHITEHEAD

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