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Wikileaks: Sudanese diplomat says country "on the wrong course"

September 3, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – A veteran Sudanese diplomat expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is running the country, a Wikileaks cable revealed.

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Director General for Protocol at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ambassador Haydar Hassan Haj Al-Sidig

The Director General for Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ambassador Haydar Hassan Haj Al-Sidig, who is better known as Ali Gagarin, vented his frustration during what was described as a courtesy call on October 27, 2009 with US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Khartoum.

Gagarin started off by lauding the recently announced US strategy on Sudan describing as positive.

"We need you; we need the United States," Gagarin said before adding that pressure would not yield results with Sudanese.

"If you press Sudanese, they will never move” he stressed.

He also suggested that since the governing group is tribal it is better to deal with them smoothly, continue to talk and to persuade, repeating the same message, he counseled.

The cable noted that President Omer Hassan al-Bashir and Presidential Adviser Nafie Ali Nafie are from the Ja’ali tribe, while Vice President Ali Osman Taha and then Presidential Adviser for National Security Salah Gosh are from the Shaigea tribe.

Although a Shaigea himself, Gagarin told DCM he was born and raised in the urban environment of Omdurman.

Gagarin directed criticism at the situation in Sudan saying that the country needs to reform and open up, a view he said shared by "a large number" of the diplomats working at the foreign affairs ministry and of the people of Sudan.

The Sudanese diplomat said that he as tried many times to persuade the ruling party that the country must transform.

“Sometimes they listen, but more often they do not, Gagarin said. “They just do not care”.

Gagarin added that Sudan is simply "on the wrong course" and argued that had he been in charge, the bilateral relationship would have been better.

The cable’s analysis said that if Gagarin “is telling the truth about speaking his mind to a regime notably intolerant of dissent, it may be his widespread popularity, word of which had reached us well before the meeting, that has allowed him not only to survive but to prosper despite his outspokenness”.

Gagarin is reportedly a strong candidate to take over the Ministry of Youths and Sports in the upcoming cabinet formation. He has previously served as an ambassador in Algeria and the Central African Republic (CAR).

He earned his nickname of “Ali Gagarin” when he played professional football for Al-Hilal - one Sudan’s biggest teams - his meteoric rise in the sport was likened to that of the famous Soviet cosmonaut.

(ST)