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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06KHARTOUM1166 2006-05-16 17:19:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Khartoum
Cable title:  

MUSINGS OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MINISTER

Tags:   PGOV ECON ECPS PINR SU 
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VZCZCXRO6645
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1166 1361719
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161719Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2854
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001166 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON ECPS PINR SU
SUBJECT: MUSINGS OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MINISTER

REF: Khartoum 986



1. (SBU) Summary: CG met with Minister of
Telecommunications and Postal Services Gier Chuang Aluong
on May 9 to discuss telephone service - or the lack
thereof - in Juba and the South. Aluong described what
he saw as a systematic plot by Khartoum to prevent the
South from establishing reliable communications within
the South and to the outside. He said that the GoSS is
preparing to set up its own competing systems to link
Southern Sudan to itself and the larger world. End
Summary.



--------------------------


GoSS Taking the Heat


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Aluong apologized for his long absence from Juba
- he was the only GoSS minister the CG had not yet met -
and explained that he had frequently been abroad, mostly
in Uganda, as part of the commission preparing the report
on the death of John Garang. He noted that in some ways
his time abroad had been a blessing - he was probably the
most embattled minister of government because of popular
dissatisfaction with the dysfunctional internal telephone
systems.



3. (SBU) Aluong said that the South was the victim of
authorities in Khartoum who had refused to provide
reliable service to the South. He said that he had
repeatedly raised this with his counterpart in the
Government of National Unity, who had responded in a
testy letter declaring that telecommunications was a
sovereign power and that the GoSS had no authority to
establish any telecommunications links whatsoever.
Aluong remarked that Khartoum feared losing its access to
the on/off switch, as well as its ability to monitor
calls. He noted that the Mobitel cellular system had
functioned in a satisfactory manner until shortly after
the GoSS established itself in Juba, at which time the
system ceased functioning altogether.



--------------------------


The South to Go its Own Way


--------------------------





4. (SBU) CG noted that for the first time since his
arrival in January, the Mobitel system had started to
work normally again. Aluong replied that Khartoum had
done upgrades and switched it back on when they learned
that the South was preparing to install a competing
system of its own constructed by a South African firm.
He added that the CPA granted the GoSS concurrent powers
in this domain. Aluong said that he had installed a GSM
switch in Yei that was currently undergoing testing. CG
asked how the GoSS would deal with Khartoum in the use of
Sudan's international country code.



5. (SBU) Aluong cited the cellular system installed in
Rumbek shortly after the temporary establishment of the
GoSS there. It had used the Canadian country code. He
said that he had asked Uganda for permission to use its
code, but had thus far received no reply. He added that
he intended to obtain access to a country code from
somewhere, possibly by paying a rental fee. He hoped to
travel to Washington within a month to discuss with the
Federal Communications Commission the ramifications of
this approach. He also planned to meet with the
International Telecommunications Union. Aluong said that
he expected Khartoum to showcase the recently restored
Mobitel system as an example of GoSS disrespect for the
CPA, but continued that he no longer cared. He had seen
enough bad faith on the part of the North, which seemed
intent on making unity as unattractive as possible.
Given the record, it was intolerable that the North
should maintain control over the ability of southerners
to communicate.



6. (SBU) Comment: It is not certain that Aluong's
interpretation of concurrent telecommunications authority
is supported by the text of the CPA, but it is very
refreshing, after several months, to have a telephone
that actually works, whatever the gamesmanship might be.
Aluong numbers among the former Garang acolytes who now
increasingly express doubt about Garang's vision of a
unitary Sudan. There has been some speculation regarding
Aluong's links to the new phone company, but nothing has
been confirmed. End comment.

HUME