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Cablegate: Darfur Elections Update, Part I: In North Darfur's Governor

VZCZCXRO2396
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0158/01 0310836
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 310835Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0090
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000158

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 SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR ELECTIONS UPDATE, PART I: IN NORTH DARFUR'S GOVERNOR
RACE, KIBIR SEEKS HOLD ON POWER AMIDST UNCERTAIN COMPETITION

REF: 10 KHARTOUM 55; 09 KHARTOUM 1411

1. (SBU) Summary: North Darfur Wali (Governor) Osman Mohamed Yousif
Kibir is seeking to extend his rule as the National Congress Party
(NCP) candidate in the upcoming April elections. Though generally
unpopular even among his own Berti tribe, Kibir has extensive party
resources at his disposal and faces an uncertain competition; a
coalition of opposition parties and Darfuri civil society
organizations have urged that elections be postponed until peace
and security is restored, yet candidates from some of these same
parties, including Popular Congress Party (PCP), Umma Party and
SPLM, have made known their intent to run against Kibir. Though
unable to register as a political party, Sudan Liberation
Army/Minni Minnawi has also declared its intent to field a
candidate as an independent. The opposition candidates' level of
support or ability to wage a convincing campaign remains unknown,
though it will likely be hampered by a lack of access due to an
unpredictable security situation, and lack of funds. End Summary.

-----------------------
BACKGROUND DEMOGRAPHICS
-----------------------

2. (SBU) North Darfur state, with a population of approximately 2.1
million according to the 2008 census results, is an ethnically
diverse region. Among the main ethnic groups are the Fur, who are
found in the area of Jebel Marra as well as the eastern and
northern plains; the Zaghawa, who inhabit the barren northwest near
the Chadian border as well as the areas of Shangil Tobaya and Dar
es Salaam; the Berti and Tunjur tribes in the area of Mellit and
Taweisha, respectively; and the Maidob in the far north. North
Darfur's nomadic Arab tribes are found primarily in Kabkabiya as
well as the areas East of El Fasher and Um Kaddada.

3. (SBU) Aside from nomadic Arab tribes, most of North Darfur's
people are agro-pastoralists, a lifestyle which has been severely
disrupted by massive displacement caused by the conflict. There are
four major Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in North
Darfur, three of which are on the outskirts of El Fasher: Zam Zam
camp is almost entirely Zaghawa, while Abu Shouk and Al Salam camps
are inhabited by a mix of Fur, Tunjur and other smaller tribes.
Kassab IDP camp near Kutum is inhabited by a mix of Fur, Tunjur and
Zaghawa. Most IDPs in North Darfur are indigenous to the state,
with the exception of the tens of thousands of Zaghawa who fled
fighting in Muhajeriya and surrounding villages in early 2009 for
refuge in Zam Zam camp. Few IDPs participated in voter registration
in North Darfur's IDP camps.

4. (SBU) For much of the past decade, North Darfur has been a
hotbed of rebel and Arab militia activity, making passage by road
highly treacherous. Fighters from Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid
(SLA) hold territory in the northern reaches of Jebel Marra, Ain
Siro, and the remote outpost of El Hilif. Dar Zaghawa is roamed by
numerous Zaghawa rebels, with affiliations SLA/Unity, United
Resistance Front (URF), and the Justice and Equality Movement
(JEM). The area is also a stronghold of Darfur Peace Agreement
(DPA) signatory Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minnawi, as is the area
South of El Fasher, including Shangil Tobay. Both Minnawi and the
rebels have seen their areas of influence shrink as the GOS has
made significant gains on rebel territory in North Darfur in 2009.
Arab militia fighters, many whom have been integrated to the GOS
military and security apparatus, are present in the areas of
Kabkabiya and Kutum as well as the eastern parts of the state,
centered around Um Kaddada. Chadian armed opposition groups
operating out of Sudan are also currently situated in the area of
Mellit.

---------------------------
CURRENT POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
---------------------------

5. (SBU) The NCP maintains a strong hold on North Darfur State. The
current Wali (Governor) of North Darfur is Osman Mohamed Yousif
Kibir, a member of the Berti tribe. Kibir assumed office in 2003
following Khartoum's dismissal of former General Ibrahim Ahmed
Suleiman for his opposition to using Arab militia fighters to
launch a counterinsurgency against the SLA, and has been
reappointed three times by President Bashir. A lifetime National
Congress Party member, he has maintained favor with the regime by
remaining loyal and implementing the policies of decision-makers in
Khartoum, which at times has made him unpopular even among his own

KHARTOUM 00000158 002 OF 002


tribe; in January 2010 local media reported that the leader of the
Berti appealed to Kibir to remove Chadian rebels from the Berti
homeland following a series of raids of villages, looting and rapes
(ref A). Kibir allegedly told him that he could do nothing, as the
decision to relocate the Chadians to the area had originated with
the Government of Sudan (GOS) in Khartoum.

------------------------
The 2010 GOVERNOR'S RACE
------------------------

6. (SBU) Kibir is the NCP's candidate for the Governorship in North
Darfur, though the rest of the field is somewhat muddled. On
January 24, an alliance of opposition parties and Darfuri civil
society organizations held a press conference in Khartoum urging
the government to postpone elections until peace and security in
Darfur has been restored. Nonetheless some of these same opposition
parties have named candidates for the North Darfur Governorship.
Hassan al Turabi's Popular Congress Party (PCP) for example, has
nominated Abdalla Al Dowma Adam, a Berti from Mellit. Once NCP
Secretary for North Darfur, he joined the Popular Congress Party
following Turabi's split from the National Islamic Front (NIF),
which later became the NCP. Adam reportedly runs several businesses
in North Darfur, and is seeking to capitalize on dissatisfaction
among the Berti with Kibir's failure to prevent mayhem caused by
Chadian rebels in the Berti homeland.

7. (SBU) The Umma party, a historical force in the region, has
nominated Ismael Kitir Abdel Karim. A Zaghawa from Tine, he serves
as the head of the Umma Party in North Darfur and is Chairman of
the Darfur Forum for Reconciliation and Peaceful Coexistence, a
civil society organization. The SPLM, meanwhile nominated Dr. Adam
Musa, a member of the Fur tribe and medical doctor currently
working with the North Darfur Ministry of Health. The DUP has
decided to put forth Dr. Mutasim Abdalla Mohamed Sharif, a
veterinary doctor currently working for the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in El Fasher. The latter
two candidates are relatively unknown and are not expected to
compete seriously in the race.

8. (SBU) Despite being unable to register with the National
Electoral Commission (NEC) as a political party (ref B),
SLA/Minnawi plans to run candidates at several levels in the 2010
elections as independents, according to SLA/Minnawi Head of Foreign
Relations Ali Traio. (Note: Traio told poloff on July 26 that local
media reports of Minnawi himself running for a parliamentary seat
representing Umm Barro, North Darfur were false. He noted that
Minnawi is not planning to declare himself for any position. End
Note.) For the North Darfur Governorship, Traio stated that
SLA/Minnawi will run Dr. Mohamed Musa, a Berti. An agricultural
economist, Musa currently serves as a dean at the university of
Khartoum. Another independent candidate is Ibrahim Mohamed
Suleiman, a former State Minister of Finance in North Darfur.

9. (SBU) Because opposition party candidates were announced only
very recently, the candidates have conducted very little
campaigning to date. In addition to a lack of funds, they are
restricted from travel by an unpredictable security situation. In
contrast, the Wali--protected by the GOS military and security
apparatus--has traveled extensively throughout North Darfur to
mobilize support, including trips to Kutum, Mellit, Taweisha,
Malha, and Kabkabiya. In one instance Kibir, accompanied by
influential Presidential Assistant Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie, reportedly
flew via UNAMID helicopter to Um Kaddada ostensibly with the stated
purpose of inaugurating a new development project, but in fact held
a political rally to mobilize NCP supporters. Rumors also abound
that the NCP has co-opted state and local elections committees to
manipulate voter registration in its favor, and that the party is
making ample use of its access to local media to propagate its
message. Opposition parties in North Darfur, starved for funding
and without access to government resources, have had no such chance
to campaign.

10. (SBU) Comment: With an underfunded opposition that is unable to
access most of the state, the NCP appears to be taking full
advantage of superior resources and organization to guarantee a
landslide victory. With polling non-existent, it is difficult to
ascertain what, if any, support the opposition candidates may have.
Post plans to meet with opposition candidates in El Fasher in the
coming weeks.
WHITEHEAD

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