Cablegate: Independent Splm Candidates Cause Crisis Within the Party
DE RUEHKH #0264/01 0480703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 161059Z FEB 10 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0213
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA FWD
UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000264
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CORRECTED ADDRESSING PROBLEMS
NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM PREL SU
SUBJECT: INDEPENDENT SPLM CANDIDATES CAUSE CRISIS WITHIN THE PARTY
REF: KHARTOUM 99; KHARTOUM 105; KHARTOUM 150
1. (SBU) Summary: The Southern People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) became embroiled in crisis following the February 22
announcement of candidates that will be the party's standard
bearers in the upcoming April elections. Upon learning that they
were not selected, a number of senior SPLM members decided to defy
the party and run as "independents" (SPLM-I). The SPLM has tried
to both cajole and threaten members back into the fold. However,
this point, thirteen independents continue to contest various
governorships. The SPLM remains concerned about this split in
party cohesion and its effect on electoral security. End Summary.
2. (SBU) On February 9, ConGen and PolOff met with SPLM Deputy
Secretary General Anne Itto concerning the party's "independent"
candidates. At that time, there were 13 independent candidates
running for gubernatorial seats for the 10 states of Southern
Sudan, including three in Upper Nile State alone. Scores of other
SPLM independents were running for the Southern Sudan Legislative
Assembly (SSLA) and State legislatures. Although the SPLM gave them
a February 13 deadline to withdraw their nomination or leave the
SPLM, there had been no public withdrawals as of February 15.
3. (SBU) Itto explained that the nomination process had been very
difficult. The SPLM political bureau (PB) received 76 SPLM
nominations for the 10 gubernatorial seats and 2,800 for the 700
parliamentary seats from the State "electoral colleges." (Note:
These colleges were State-led committees charged with vetting
candidates against standardized criteria. However, many blame the
colleges for not recommending the strongest candidates to the
4. (SBU) According to Itto, the 27 members of the PB pored over
the nominations, reviewed them based on the standardized criteria
and finally decided through secret ballots. She said that even
some of the people GoSS President Kiir supported were not selected.
Itto acknowledged that the process had thrown the party into
disarray. However, she maintained that it had been fair and
transparent. She stated that given the numbers of nominees alone,
it was inevitable that there would be a lot of unhappy people.
5. (SBU) Other party members have been far more critical of the
nomination process. Numerous cabinet-level members of the GoSS
have told us, "we have put ourselves in a mess." Not surprisingly,
GoSS VP Riek Machar was the most disparaging, terming the process a
"fiasco." (Comment: This may in part be due to the fact that
there were only two Nuer candidates for the 10 gubernatorial slots.
The party leadership has been livid that one of the SPLM-I
gubernatorial candidates is Angeline Tenny Machar, wife of the VP).
How to Sway Independents - Carrot or Stick or Both?
6. (SBU) Immediately following the independent candidates'
announcements to contest the elections, the SPLM Secretary General,
Pagan Amun was quoted as saying they would be expelled from the
party. However, others urged the party try to "convince" them to
stand down for the good of Southern Sudan and in the interests of
party discipline. Still others argued that the party should let the
independents run, and if successful, accept them back into the fold
afterwards, thereby creating a stronger party in their view.
7. (SBU) On February 6, GoSS President Salva Kiir and SPLM
Secretary General Pagan Amun convoked all the independent
candidates to Juba. Itto told us that in exchange for their "party
loyalty" the President and Secretary General told them they would
be considered for other senior postings in the Government of
Southern Sudan. Kiir and Amun also reminded them that these
postings were temporary and there would likely be new elections
soon following the referendum. Minister of Regional Cooperation
Oyai Deng Ajak told us that Kiir had intended to meet with the
independents separately, but they refused and requested to meet as
one group. In the end, the SPLM gave the candidates one week to
reconsider or risk party expulsion. As of February 13, the week
end deadline, no candidates had publicly withdrawn their
8. (SBU) The SPLM remains conflicted about elections. Numerous
senior-level officials have floated with us the possibility of
delaying the process. In the South, the SPLM fears the party is
being undermined by ethnic cleavages and personal ambition. While
it is unlikely that the National Congress Party (NCP) will make
serious headway against the SPLM, it is possible that these
internal party divisions will cause it to lose ground vis-????-vis
other Southern political parties.
9. (SBU) Concerning its presidential nominee, Yasir Arman, the SPLM
is fully aware that it has waged a high-stakes bet. Over the past
few weeks the NCP has made numerous overtures to the SPLM, pledging
resolution of outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace
Accord (CPA), in exchange for "partnership" on the presidential
nominee. i.e. withdrawal of Arman's candidacy. However, thus far,
the SPLM is standing by Arman.
10. (SBU) Notwithstanding the misgivings that the some SPLM
members have about elections, the electoral process has its own
clear momentum. Voters have registered and candidates are
mobilized. With each passing day, elections become more likely.
At this juncture a delay, or the withdrawal of Arman, would be
difficult to explain to the population. We have hewed to the line
that elections are an important component of the CPA and
democratization process and should go forward. End Comment.