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Cablegate: Splm's Amum Pauses Protests, Vows Continued Opposition

VZCZCXRO2198
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1378 3440733
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100733Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4851
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001378

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREF SU
SUBJECT: SPLM'S AMUM PAUSES PROTESTS, VOWS CONTINUED OPPOSITION

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1370
B) KHARTOUM 1363
C) KHARTOUM 1359

1. (SBU) Summary: Opposition party protests will continue until
outstanding CPA implementation issues are resolved, Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM) Secretary General Pagan Amum told DCM
Asquino on December 9. While Amum has decided to hold off on
leading any protests in Khartoum in the hope that Government of
Southern Sudan (GOSS) leadership can negotiate a solution with the
ruling National Congress Party (NCP)(Note: GOSS President Salva
Kiir, originally scheduled to come to Khartoum on December 9 will
now arrive on December 10. End note.) Amum told poloff that GOSS
Vice President Riek Machar was now extremely pessimistic after
receiving an "empty" offer from the NCP early this morning. Amum
also reflected upon the perceived racial overtones of the beating of
SPLM Head of Northern Sector Yasir Arman, saying they were designed
to "humiliate" rather than hurt him. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Amum told DCM that he expects the SPLM to hold more
peaceful marches until the Government of National Unity (GNU)
National Assembly can be persuaded to pass outstanding laws,
including the Referendum Laws for Southern Sudan and Abyei. However,
he stated he had agreed to hold off on another protest in Khartoum
"for the time being" to give Machar and GOSS President Salva Kiir
the chance to negotiate a solution. Amum later told poloff that
while Machar was upbeat last night upon receiving news of a
potential new "package deal" offer from the NCP, he was downtrodden
upon receiving the "empty" offer this morning. "There was no gift
inside," said Amum. (Note: Machar's discussion with CDA Whitehead
on December 9 to be reported in septel. End note.)

3. (SBU) Amum nonetheless expressed confidence that additional
protests would eventually force a breakthrough in the deadlock
between the two parties. He noted that protests would continue in
Southern Sudan, with planned demonstrations in Rumbek on December 9,
Bentiu on December 10 and Aweil shortly thereafter, and that barring
a solution he would continue to lead protests in Khartoum. "You are
welcome to visit me at my new hotel in town," he joked, "a
government jail."

4. (SBU) Amum also reflected upon his arrest on December 7 and the
beating of Arman, which he said had strong racial overtones. Amum
said that Arman was pulled from his holding cell at the police
detention facility and taunted by a Government of Sudan (GOS) police
officer who called him "a traitor" for "betraying" his Northern
Sudanese brethren to help the "slaves" of Southern Sudan. The
beating was designed not to hurt him, but rather to humiliate Arman
and "break his spirit," he said. Arman declined to file a formal
complaint against the officer, said Amum, because he is a "victim of
indoctrination" of the systemic racism of the NCP regime.

5. (SBU) Comment: Given his record to date, Amum will probably
continue to stir the pot to heighten political tensions in Khartoum
as well as the South. A temporary delay in protests in Khartoum is
nonetheless a welcome respite since it will give both parties an
opportunity to reflect on what has become a more volatile situation.
This process may already be underway. We have learned that a meeting
between the SPLM's Riek Machar, Malik Agar and Luka Biong and the
NCP's Ali Osman Taha and South Kordofan Governor Ahmed Haroun (who
launched the pre-negotiation contact) went deep into the morning of
December 10, with Kiir and Bashir slated to meet later in the day. A
best case scenario might be that the recent political convulsion has
given impetus to the stalled legislative/political package. We do
not know what this outcome would due to Amum's new strategy, which
has abandoned the rhetoric of returning to the bush in exchange for
the embrace of Ghandian principles of non-violent protest, which
Amum has reportedly taken to heart. End comment.

WHITEHEAD

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