INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Eastern Sudan Outreach Concludes First Workshop

Published: Mon 16 Nov 2009 01:14 PM
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TAGS: PREL SOCI PGOV SU ER
SUBJECT: EASTERN SUDAN OUTREACH CONCLUDES FIRST WORKSHOP
REF: A. KHARTOUM 1214
B. ASMARA 126
1. (SBU) The Peacebuilding Center for the Horn of Africa
(PCHA) successfully concluded the first week of a five-part
workshop series for eastern Sudan civil society leaders. A
total of 24 participants traveled to Asmara to take part in
the 10-day workshop, hosted by Dr. Taisier M. Ali, an exiled
Sudanese professor who has taken residence in Asmara. Dr.
Ali founded the PCHA with the intention of promoting regional
dialogue and solutions. Since its inception, the PCHA has
sponsored roundtable discussions, invited speakers from
around the world, and has served as a meeting space for civil
society leaders and political activists from the Horn of
Africa region. While in Asmara, the workshop participants
engaged in group discussions and heard from guest lecturers,
including representatives from the Government of South Sudan
(GOSS) liaison office, resident Darfuris, and the Eritrean
government's (GSE) Sudan advisor, Abdullah Jaber.
Participants hailed from a variety of civil society
organizations and political parties, including the SPLM, the
Sudan Communist Party, and even one from the National
Congress Party (NCP).
2. (SBU) Although the PCHA encountered relatively little
difficulty in putting the workshop together, the NCP
prevented four students from attending the workshop, stating
that the four were involved in demonstrations against the NCP
and had destroyed government property. The new head of
security in eastern Sudan, Ayoub Abdulrahman (former
Counselor at the Sudan embassy in Eritrea), is thought to be
the person directly responsible for blocking the students'
participation, Dr. Ali mused. Despite the minor setback, the
participants all arrived in Asmara and enthusiastically
engaged in the workshop agenda.
3. (SBU) Emboffs engaged with the participants as well.
While the poloff gave a lecture on Rosa Parks and the
Montgomery Bus Boycotts, drawing comparisons to Sudan's own
Lubna Hussein (Ref A), the ambassador discussed future
prospects for eastern Sudan after the 2010 election and 2011
referendum. The participants found the lecture on the Civil
Rights Movement inspirational to their own political
situation, and were particularly pleased with the Arabic
translation of the initial letter sent around Montgomery to
inspire collective action. Although the participants were
largely hopeful for the power of civil society to encourage
political change, they admitted to the ambassador that
violence would likely resume in the east if Darfur remained
unresolved.
4. (SBU) The next workshop is scheduled to take place in
mid-December. Dr. Ali aims to complete the five workshops
before the 2010 elections, allowing the participants time to
implement the lessons learned in Asmara. Each workshop
incorporates new participants in an attempt to allow maximum
exposure to the workshop's resources.
5. (SBU) COMMENT: The Eastern Sudan Workshop Series, now in
its second year of activity (Ref B), is perhaps the only area
where the USG, GSE, and NCP coordinate on a single
initiative, the successful implementation of the Eastern
Sudan Peace Agreement. Despite minor roadbumps, such as the
blocking of the four students from taking part in the
workshop, the completion of the first workshop is a healthy
demonstration of the power of civil society leaders to
overcome political difficulties.
McMULLEN
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