What was the reason that Viceroy Gunray and the Separatist leaders were trying to kill Padmé?

It doesn't seem to make sense. She was leading an opposition to prevent the creation of an army for the Republic, which would be great to the Separatists, because they would have no one to oppose their droid army.

Instead of supporting Padmé, they are eager to kill her. Why? What's their motivation? What's their goal?

Is it just revenge for her victory in the battle for Naboo, or is it something else?

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    Because Dooku (who orders the hits) is working for Palpatine who's secretly on both sides. He wants a prolonged war, not a Seperatist walkover. – Valorum Dec 9 '14 at 14:37
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    @Richard - That was my first thought. I can see Dooku's motives... But in the scene where they are fighting in Geonosis arena, the Viceroy is the one that is more excited about killing her... Not Dooku – LcSalazar Dec 9 '14 at 14:42
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    Her actions resulted in him being imprisoned for nearly a decade. – Valorum Dec 9 '14 at 14:49
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    Gunray has a personal grudge against Padme over the Trade Federation's failed blockade of Naboo. – Null Dec 9 '14 at 15:05
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    I always thought that the real reason to try and kill Padme was to force her underground. Her replacement in the Senate, Jar-Jar, was far easier to manipulate. – Blazemonger Dec 9 '14 at 21:28
up vote 34 down vote accepted

We know that Darth Sidious wanted Padme killed for her opposition to the Military Creation Act which would allow the creation of an army to fight the Separatists for the Republic. This would allow Sidious to start a war which he could use to gain even more power. Since Sidious was manipulating both the Separatists and the Republic he was in a position to put a bounty on Padme's head through the Separatists.

As you pointed out, it was not in the interests of the Separatists to assassinate Padme due to her opposition to the Military Creation Act. But Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray held a strong personal grudge against Padme over the failed blockade of Naboo. Sidious no doubt inflamed this grudge and encouraged Gunray to seek revenge against Padme. Gunray's grudge was so powerful that he demanded the death of Padme as a condition for the secession of the Trade Federation from the Republic; in Attack of the Clones Obi-Wan travels to Geonosis and overhears a conversation between the Separatist leaders:

Count Dooku: We must persuade the Commerce Guild and the Corporate Alliance to sign the treaty.

Nute Gunray: What about the senator from Naboo? Is she dead yet? I am not signing your treaty until I have her head on my desk.

Count Dooku: I am a man of my word, Viceroy.

Based on this conversation, Dooku hired Jango Fett to kill Padme but Sidious had succeeded in ordering the hit through Nute Gunray (by this point, Fett and his associate Zam Wesell had twice attempted to kill Padme on Coruscant but failed).

The conversation also explains why the other Separatists supported Padme's assassination: they would benefit considerably from the addition of the droid armies of the Trade Federation. The Separatists were not aware of the clone army at the time so the addition of the Trade Federation's droid armies seemed more important than preventing the passing of the Military Creation Act -- the Separatists thought the Republic would have to raise a new army (which would take considerable time).

Later, Padme is captured along with Anakin and Obi-Wan on Geonosis and sentenced to execution. By that point, the Separatists' motivation to kill Padme was not simply due to Gunray's personal grudge against her -- by then they also wanted her dead because she knew about the droid factories on Geonosis.

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    Since Dooku went by the name "Tyranus" when hiring Jango, which isn't public knowledge to either faction, that seems to indicate that he did it privately. Otherwise Jango would be more likely to say "I was hired by Count Dooku" since he's apparently telling Obi-Wan the truth about who hired him anyway. – Milo P Dec 9 '14 at 18:28
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    @MiloPrice I'm not sure that says much about whether Dooku ordered it publicly or privately because Fett was later seen standing next to Dooku in a public capacity on Geonosis. – Null Dec 9 '14 at 18:49

We need to distinguish between 2 different occassions:

  1. Original plot by Zam Wesell

    This was ultimately orchestrated by Sidious (via Dooku via Jango Fett).

    The goal was, as @Richard's comment noted, to remove a person opposing the Civil War, which was Palpatine's goal. Had Padme have her way, no G.A.R, thus no Order 66.

  2. Sentencing Padme to death on Geonosis.

    First of all, the benefit is making sure she would not tell the Republic about a hidden Separatist operation there to build droid armies.

    If you recall from AotC, that place held plans to Death Star, among other things.

    Second, personal grudges by Separatist leaders (Gunray over Trade Federation fiasco at Naboo)

  • Although Sidious was ultimately the one behind the original assassination attempt by Zam (and also the destruction of Padme's ship), I think the question is why would the Separatists actually put the bounty on her? Presumably Dooku ordered the bounty in his public capacity as a member of the Separatists. Or did he just order Jango to kill her on his own? – Null Dec 9 '14 at 15:55
  • @Null - no canon detail I'm aware of, but I'm assuming on his own – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 9 '14 at 19:36
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    @DVK I found a conversation in Episode II which basically proves that Dooku ordered Jango to kill Padme because Gunray was demanding it. I've updated my answer (it's basically the same as before, except that I've got proof from canon rather than Legends). – Null Dec 10 '14 at 5:20
  • @Null - Awsome find! I'd give you a +1 except I already did :( – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 10 '14 at 16:31

Because of Palpatine. It was all part of his plan. First he created a crisis, promising to help the Trade Federation if they started this blockade. But in actuality the only thing he was trying to do with this crisis was to create sympathy for Naboo in the Senate and he knew how Padmé worked and how with a little encouragement she would move for a vote of no confidence against Chancellor Valorum, so he could take his place. At the end of Episode I, the only person who won was actually Palpatine. John Williams even highlights this point in the music at the parade, which is actually the well-known theme of the Emperor, but instead done in a major key. That was the whole point of everything. Palpatine was using the Trade Federation as much as he was using Padmé, those in the Senate etc...

The Separatists only wanted to kill Padmé after that because the Trade Federation were still genuinely upset that she foiled them. You can see in the arena scene how desperate Nute Gunray is to see her die and it's just because of personal revenge. Perhaps Palpatine was in favour of any attempts against her, because she was causing problems concerning his desire to create an army of the Republic, but I don't think her voice on that subject was strong enough to stop his plans anyway. As you can see he already had an army in place. And created the crisis which brought the clones into play.

Ultimately everything you see in the prequels is the work of Palpatine and his masterplan. Even if other players against the Republic had their own agendas. Palpatine knew how to use those to his own advantage. And in the end as you saw with what happened on Mustafar he cut off all of those links without hesitation. The Trade Federation, the Banking Clan etc... were no longer needed. And so he removed them from the board.

There is even the angle of Anakin. It is clear that Palpatine got his claws in him very early on. Even by Episode II it is clear they know each other very well. The attempts on Padmé's life may also have been 'allowed' because of Anakin's attachment there. Palpatine had his tendrils everywhere and on everything. The prequel trilogy is actually a hero's journey in reverse for Palpatine. It's a victory story but for the worst possible character lol

I was rewatching it recently and while I think the answers about the viceroy holding a grudge are certainly a factor, I think Palpatine had an ulterior motive for ordering the assassination, and that he did not want her to die. It's not entirely clear when his hard-on for Anakin started, but as the Sith Lord I'm sure he had some interest in the "chosen one" and we know he has visions of the future.

I think he knew the trick to manipulating Anakin would be through his heart, and no one gets over their first crush, especially if they're brought up in a cult that doesn't allow them to fornicate. By having public attempts on Padme's life, he had an excuse to request a Jedi protector for her, and he knew she wouldn't be crazy about it, so he recommended "someone you're familiar with, an old friend perhaps, like.... Obi Wan Kenobi!" Gee, is there anyone in the galaxy who doesn't know who Kenobi's apprentice is? This way he gets Anakin close to Padme, and a little sweet talk about how she's better than sand and the rest is history (I'm justifying actions, not gonna defend this movie's dialogue)

There was also the plot to bring Anakin Skywalker to the darkside. Darth Sidious wanted to create a situation where Padme needed Anakin's protection. He knew of Anakin's one-sided love of Padme, and wanted them to spend time together, so that they would consume their forbidden love. Without this relationship, it was unlikely that Anakin would have gone over to the darkside. (The final straw was to the desire to stop Padme from dying).

  • Hmm. Her death would certainly favour Palpatine, but the question is why the Seperatists would want her dead. His ultimate agenda isn't the same as theirs... – Valorum Dec 10 '14 at 12:53

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