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Cablegate: Corrected Copy: Guinea-Bissau: Opposition Prs Party

VZCZCXRO2411
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1504/01 3441113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101113Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3482
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1269
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0899
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0416
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001504

SIPDIS
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DEPT FOR AF/W, DRL AND INR/AA
PARIS, LISBON, LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM HDP SG
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY: GUINEA-BISSAU: OPPOSITION PRS PARTY
DISCRETE FOR THE MOMENT, WORRIED, LOOKING FOR HOLES IN THE PAIGC
ARMOR

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a November 4 meeting with PolOff, Ibrahim Sori
Djalo, Interim President of the opposition Party for Social
Renovation (PRS) and Augusto Poquena, PRS Secretary General, started
off describing their party's cooperation with the African Party for
the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) on a list of
projects before the newly convened Popular National Assembly.
However, they quickly shifted to accusing the PAIGC of being
responsible for violence and complaining complained about military
control of civilian institutions and alleged Libyan influence in the
military. They accused recently elected Malam Bacai Sahna of being
a weak president and said they view the recent border tension with
Senegal as having been inflated to divert attention from the March
and June assassinations. Poquena expressed worry for his personal
safety due to his criticism of military authorities. The PRS hopes
to capitalize on potentially dissident PAIGC deputies and public
dissatisfaction with any reticence that the GOGB may show in
reducing military control and impunity. END SUMMARY.

PRS Cooperates with PAIGC for Now...
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) The PRS is the major opposition party in the National
Assembly with 28 out of 100 seats (the PAIGC has 67). Its
presidential candidate, Kumba Yala, made it to the final round of
the presidential elections in July, but lost heavily to Malam Bacai
Sahna. The PRS is a party whose base is in the Balanta ethnic
group, the largest ethnic group in the country. However, while the
Balanta are a plurality they are not a majority of the population.
As such, this ethnic base is too small to win a general election or
a majority in the Assembly. To correct for this weakness, many
believe that Yala's recent conversion to Islam was a cynical
electoral ploy done to increase his electoral support among Muslims
(Note: Balata are primarily animists. End note.), who make up a
plurality among the country's religious groups. However, in the
second round of the recent presidential election, Kumba did not even
win a major portion of the Balanta vote and won only 37 percent of
the vote nationally. The party is therefore searching for allies
among potentially dissident PAIGC Deputies as they become unhappy
with PAIGC policy and a lack of legislative successes.

3. (SBU) PRS National Assembly deputies Ibrahim Sori Djalo and
Augusto Poquena, both recognized their minority status in the
Assembly and said that their party would engage in "responsible
opposition" and would work constructively with the PAIGC because the
voters are expecting this. The PRS is ready to contribute to the
passage of a responsible national budget, a working National
Assembly budget, security sector reform, and a new system of
government accounting. They welcomed President Sahna's proposal to
reform the constitution, since it has big holes and is a "bootleg"
of the constitution of the former colonial power, Portugal.

. . . But Prepares for Later
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) In response to a question about the most urgent problems of
the moment, Djalo and Poquena became very emotional and spoke about
the March killings of Armed Force Chief of Staff Tagme na Waie and
President Joao Bernardo Vieira, and on the June killings of
ex-ministers Baciro Dabo and Helder Proenca. Vieira was no friend
of the PRS, said Djalo, but "everyone knows that the military did
this in collaboration with Prime Minister Gomes." They feel that
the convening of an international commission to investigate and
expose the killers is more important than security sector reform.
Poquena also criticized the promotions of Jose Zamora Induta to Rear
Admiral and Antonio Njai to Major General.

5. (SBU) Poquena also charged, without elaborating, that Libya is
influencing the armed forces in the form of large payments of which
the government has no knowledge of. Reflecting a sentiment among
other public figures interviewed recently, Poquena also expressed
concern that his criticisms of the government and armed forces
rendered him vulnerable to physical attack and that he had no
personal protection. Djalo then tag-teamed back into the discussion
positing that the current Senegalo-Guinean border dispute is
artificial because the "frontier is not a simple straight line and
never has been. So why cry panic now, except to divert attention
away from the assassinations?"

Transforming PRS into National Party
------------------------------------

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Given the structural limits of the electoral base
of PRS, the party will be condemned to permanent minority status in

DAKAR 00001504 002 OF 002


the National Assembly and in the larger body politic, unless its
leaders can begin to persuade non-Balata Bissau-Guineans that the
party that oversaw the Balanta-ization of the armed forces can
actually be a true national party. Knowing this, the party's
leaders are seeking to create an image of constructive participation
in the deliberation of Assembly sessions as they wait to take
advantage of all the weaknesses of the current president and prime
minister, including perceived complicity in four assassinations, the
militaries interference in civilian politics and law enforcement,
and stalled security sector reform. In addition, there is some
concern that widespread and growing public opinion holds that
elections will not improve the well-being or quality of life of the
population nor stabilize the country's political situation.
BERNICAT

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