|08KHARTOUM484||2008-04-02 05:38:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Khartoum|
VZCZCXRO0815 OO RUEHROV DE RUEHKH #0484/01 0930538 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 020538Z APR 08 FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0367 INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000484
1. (C) Summary: SPLM Deputy SG Abdul Azziz al Helou
outlined his plans to strengthen the party's organization to
CDA Fernandez, including training cadres, augmenting offices
in the North, and developing a clear, consistent
communications strategy, including its own media outlets.
The SPLM hopes to bring all of the Darfur rebels under the
umbrella of either the SLM or JEM for negotiations and is
pressing SLM leader Abdul Wahid al Nur to participate in
talks and allow his supporters to take part in the April
census. End summary.
A Full Plate
2. (C) On April 1, CDA Fernandez called on Sudan Peoples
Liberation Movement Deputy Secretary General Abdul Azziz al
Helou to discuss developments in the SPLM in the run-up to
the 2009 national elections and SPLM efforts to unit rebel
groups in Darfur. Azziz noted how busy the SPLM is and said
that in addition to serving as Deputy SG for Organization, he
also is Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the National
Convention scheduled for mid-May, as well as head of SPLM
Darfur Task Force. He said that he is scheduled to travel to
the Nuba mountains in South Kordofan on April 9, and invited
the Charge to come along.
3. (C) Charge Fernandez agreed that the SPLM faces a full
agenda, including CPA implementation, the Abyei dispute, he
upcoming census and preparing for next year's elections. He
said that the U.S. will try to be as helpful as possible, for
example by assisting the SPLM to strengthen its offices in
the North. The U.S. will not be able to do everything that
is needed, however, and there are other things that are too
politically sensitive for the U.S. to attempt.
4. (C) Azziz said that the SPLM carries a heavy
responsibility. For its part, the National Congress Party
has only one objective: to retain power. The NCP will resist
any change. It was for change in Sudan - with democracy,
justice, and human rights - that the SPLA fought during the
civil war. It is now up to the SPLM to lead the political
opposition to create a new Sudan. This will require that it
successfully transitions from an armed resistance group to a
political movement. It also means organizing the SPLM,s
grassroots support for the coming election.
Strengthening the SPLM Organization
5. (C) Azziz said that coming in as Deputy SG, he had found
the SPLM,s organization weak and he is implementing several
steps to try to correct that. First, he plans to launch a
two part party training program. A corps of trainers will be
educated in the fundamentals of the party's vision, its
organization, and history. Then these trainers will train
party cadres from the bottom up, prior to the coming
6. (C) The CDA remarked that such training will be critical
if the SPLM is to deliver a common message: that the SPLM is
a national and not a regional party. Azziz agreed and said
that the second part of his program is developing just such a
consistent party message, first within the SPLM, then
throughout the country as a whole, with the message that the
SPLM promotes unity and its objective is a united democratic
7. (C) The CDA asked whether this strategy will include
developing the SPLM,s own independent means of
communication. Right now, the NCP has a near monopoly.
Azziz said that this is now under discussion. He is seeking
funds for SPLM television, radio, and newspapers in the party
budget. The CDA agreed that such media will be critical to
getting out the SPLM,s message, especially in the North.
8. (C) Finally, Azziz said he will focus his attention and
party resources on strengthening the SPLM,s organization in
Sudan's North, where SPLM offices have been underdeveloped
compared to those of the South. The Charge agreed that the
North will be the critical battleground in next years
election, noting that the North is both a big challenge and a
big opportunity for the SPLM.
Getting the Darfur Rebels Together
9. (C) Asked about the SPLM,s efforts to work with the rebel
groups in Darfur, Azziz said that the SPLM,s strategy is to
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try to bring the rebels together and reduce the number of
actors involved. The SPLM hopes to consolidate all of the
Darfur factions within either the SLM or the JEM, then press
the two groups to work together to develop a common
negotiating position between them.
10. (C) The CDA commented that last summer, the UN and AU
had dismissed the SPLM,s work with the Darfur rebels. Only
the U.S. and Norway had recognized that the SPLM was doing
useful work that now is bearing fruit. Azziz said that the
SPLM has the advantage of having known all the actors for a
Getting Abdul Wahid to the Table
11. (C) Azziz said that he had met in Paris recently with
SLM leader Abdul Wahid, who he described as confused and
suspicious of the SPLM. He said that Wahid fears being
isolated from his field commanders, who the SPLM has been
hosting for talks in Juba. Azziz urged Abdul Wahid to leave
Paris and exercise leadership over his SLM faction in Darfur.
He said that Wahid has been invited to come to South Sudan
on several occasions and always has refused. Now he has
agreed to authorize a delegation from his faction to meet
with other groups. The CDA noted that this is at least a
step in the right direction. The SLM will need to talk to
the NCP eventually and it will need to be well prepared
before it does. He added that the longer the SLM allows the
situation to drag on, the worse will be conditions for its
followers in Darfur.
13. (C) The Charge then commented on Abdul Wahid,s call on
his supporters to boycott the approaching national census.
Such a boycott would be counterproductive and only would
further marginalize Darfur,s population, he said. Azziz
said that the SPLM is trying to get the SLM to participate.
The Charge commented that there is not much time left.
14. (C) Azziz mentioned the SPLM,s efforts to include
questions on ethnic and religious identity in the census. He
was still confident that such questions will be included.
CDA commented that the SPLM hopes that with these questions
included, the census will demonstrate that Sudan is not a
predominantly Arab country, as the NCP claims. Azziz said
that including such questions also is important under the CPA
in the Three Areas, where civil service jobs are to be
divided proportionally by ethnic group. Including ethnic
questions on the census will supply the needed information.
Darfur Action Plan
15. (C) Azziz said that the SPLM needs U.S. support for is
Darfur initiative and that it is preparing its plan of action
for Darfur, which it will share with the U.S. The Charge
suggested that it would be good to get Vice President Kiir to
visit one of the Darfur IDP camps, something that President
Bashir cannot do. He commented that the Darfurians are among
Sudan's alienated and marginalized people, and should be
naturally aligned with the SPLM. But while they hate the
NCP, they do not trust the SPLM either, believing they were
left out of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Azziz
lamented the bad timing of the Darfuris, with whom he had
fought against Khartoum in the civil war (in addition to
fighting in his native Nuba mountains). "If they had
revolted only four months sooner, we would have made it to
the Presidential palace and would not be sharing power with
the NCP. The rebels were just too late."
16. (SBU) The Charge and Azziz agreed to stay in close
touch. CDA emphasized that the SPLM,s efforts in the North
will be key to success. Azziz said that USG support for this
effort would be most welcome and the SPLM will be grateful.
17. (C) Abdul Azziz appeared confident and with a clear
grasp of the challenges ahead for the SPLM. He strongly
endorsed delivering a clear, consistent SPLM message on
national unity for the 2009 elections and appears to
recognize that the SPLM must challenge the NCP in the North
if it hopes to gain ground in elections. We are far less
confident than he that Abdul Wahid come around to supporting
the census and that ethnic/religious affiliation questions
will be included on census forms.
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