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Cablegate: Northern Opposition Leaders Tell Special Envoy

VZCZCXRO1256
PP RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1433/01 3540947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200947Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4922
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001433

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL SU
SUBJECT: NORTHERN OPPOSITION LEADERS TELL SPECIAL ENVOY
GRATION THAT DEMONSTRATIONS WERE NECESSARY

REF: A. KHARTOUM 1370
B. KHARTOUM 1404

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 16, five northern opposition
political party leaders discussed the recent demonstrations
in Khartoum and their objectives with U.S. Special Envoy to
Sudan (SE) General Scott Gration. Mariam Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi
from the Umma Party, Ali Traio of the Sudan Liberation
Movement/Minni Minawi (SLM/MM), Taj El-Sir Mohamed Salih of
the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Siddiq Hassan Al-Turabi
from the Popular Congress Party (PCP), and Siddiq Yousif of
the Communist Party, all agreed that they wanted free and
fair national elections in April 2010. Four of the parties
had been working together (with the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement (SPLM) and other parties) to stage the
demonstrations of December 7 and 14, while the DUP disagreed
about the utility of using demonstrations to bring about
change. Instead, the DUP's Salih said his party preferred
holding meetings with all parties to reach consensus on
differences. Many in the group expressed concerns about what
they claimed were irregularities in the voter registration
process, but agreed that in general, the results of the
latter had been encouraging. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Mariam Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi from the Umma Party
recounted for SE Gration the most recent opposition
demonstration on December 14, organized by the parties of the
Juba Alliance, during which Government of Sudan (GOS) police
arrested and detained her for several hours. She called it a
silent gathering rather than a demonstration, and said the
force used by the GOS was not warranted. She stated that
Sudan does not have a "Government of National Unity" (GNU),
instead accusing the National Congress Party (NCP) of
preventing forward movement on issues of national importance.
Referring to the NCP and Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) agreement on three long-disputed bills, Al-Sadig
argued that the demonstrations of December 7 and 14 prompted
resolution of differences between those parties that had not
been possible for years. She said this gave renewed faith to
political parties and activists that there was hope for the
political process, even if it required the intense pressure
of public protests to bring about progress. When pressed for
a specific objective for the demonstrations, she
characterized them as a mobilization of the people in which
they exercised their rights, in order to begin the long-term
democratic transformation process in Sudan.

3. (SBU) Ali Traio from the SLM/MM, went further in his
justification of the demonstrations. He said they had been
intended to rectify election malpractices and highlight the
issue of election-related issues in Darfur. He, too, viewed
public pressure on the NCP as being responsible for agreement
on the three contested bills. However, he noted that the
National Security Act bill and issues relating to elections
in Darfur remained unresolved.

4. (SBU) Siddiq Yousif from the Communist Party said his
party was interested in free, fair and transparent elections.
Although acknowledging that according to statistics, some 60
percent of Darfuris had registered to vote, he maintained
that this number was not accurate and reflected voter
registration irregularities. Yousif claimed that in some
areas, especially certain locations where the NCP might not
have been confident of a winning vote, the registration data
had been manipulated. He cited one location in Khartoum in
the area surrounding President Omar Al-Bashir's residence and
said that according to census data, the population is 934
people; however, according to voter registration data, over
2,000 people registered to vote in this locale. Yousif
agreed that not all areas might not have the same high number
of alleged voter registration irregularities, but emphasized
that irregularities were common and politically -motivated.

5. (SBU) Taj El-Sir Mohamed Salih of the DUP noted that his
party was not part of the Juba Alliance and had not
participated in the recent demonstrations. He said that
while the DUP was not necessarily against the demonstrations,
the party did not believe such actions were the best or only
way to effect change. The DUP preferred, he said, a meeting
or conference between the opposition parties and the GNU to
discuss and resolve differences. His party had sent letters
to both GOS President Bashir and GOSS President Salva Kiir
calling on them to initiate such a consensus-building
conference. The DUP's hope, he concluded, was that such a
gathering would take place prior to national elections.

6. (SBU) Comment: With the exception of the DUP, the

KHARTOUM 00001433 002 OF 002


opposition party representatives were united in the view that
public protests and demonstrations are necessary to achieve
progress on election and referendum issues. Despite arrests
and reported beatings, those favoring such demonstrations
did not seem daunted by the GOS response. They vowed to
continue with more rallies and demonstrations in the coming
weeks. All continued to support preparations for elections to
be held on schedule in April 2010. End Comment.

7. (U) S/USSES has cleared this message.
ASQUINO

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