Cablegate: Un/Au Process Flailing

DE RUEHKH #0900/01 1581649
P 071649Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

KHARTOUM 00000900 001.2 OF 003

1. (SBU) Summary: The absence of a specific UN/AU plan for the
Darfur political process has led to an increase in competing
international initiatives. The UN and AU appear unable to exert the
necessary leadership to shape these initiatives into a coherent
strategy. They have wavered in their support for the Centre for
Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) effort to unite the factions of the
Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) in preparation for a conference in
Southern Sudan. While the UN and AU claim that the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM) Task Force on Darfur's proposal for the
conference remains disjointed and unrealistic, their engagement with
the SPLM's senior leadership has been limited. SPLM leaders are
likewise disappointed with the UN/AU's efforts to date. The UN and
AU have no plan to address a new "regional initiative" led by
Eritrea. France has announced it will hold a ministerial-level
meeting in Paris on June 25 for the parties to the Tripoli Consensus
plus other African governments.

2. (SBU) Summary continued: UN Envoy Jan Eliasson will present the
latest version of the UN/AU roadmap to the UN Security Council on
June 8. UN sources indicate that the roadmap will lay out broad
principles and dates rather than a strategy to realize these
benchmarks. While remaining the only impartial parties to lead the
political process, the UN and AU must go beyond calls for
coordinating international efforts. The USG should urge the UN/AU
to select those initiatives with the greatest chance of success and
then support the UN/AU as it discourages efforts outside of its
strategy. End summary.

UN/AU Brief Darfur Partners

3. (SBU) UN and AU representatives briefed Western donors on June 6
in Khartoum. Following the completion of consultations in Darfur
and Eritrea, Pekka Haavisto, senior advisor to UN Envoy Jan
Eliasson, and Sam Ibok, co-chair of the UN/AU Joint Mediation
Support Team (JMST), described the various international initiatives
to advance the Darfur political process. They lamented that none of
the individual initiatives could involve all of the Darfur Peace
Agreement (DPA) non-signatory leaders but did not articulate a
strategy to confront this dilemma.

SPLM Conference

4. (SBU) The senior SPLM leadership has proposed a conference in
Southern Sudan to prepare the DPA non-signatories for negotiations.
According to the UN and AU, however, the SPLM Darfur Taskforce has
articulated a more expansive vision, including the participation of
civil society, the reconciliation of Arab and African tribes, and
other elements. It is still unclear how these different visions of
the SPLM initiative will be reconciled. The JMST has only met with
one senior SPLM official, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor.
The UN/AU expressed concerns about the meeting proposed by the SPLM
Taskforce. JMST members in contact with key Darfur field commanders
and political leaders said that the SPLM has not contacted them and
has instead invited only civil society activists and traditional
leaders to Southern Sudan. Sources in the SPLM Task Force
contradict these assertions and claim that they have met military
commanders in N'djamena and "established contact" with commanders in

5. (SBU) The UN and AU expressed a concern that Western donor
backing for the SPLM Taskforce would encourage the Taskforce to
circumvent rather than coordinate with the UN and AU. Haavisto said
that Alor had admitted that he feared the SPLM was drifting away
from the UN/AU lead. Alor had emphasized, however, that the SPLM
leadership viewed the party's role as a facilitator rather than a
mediator and that it would focus on preparing the non-signatories
for negotiations. The Norwegian ambassador suggested that the UN
and AU speak directly to First Vice President Salva Kiir. Poloff
explained that the USG had conducted extensive discussions with the
SPLM leadership. The leadership understood that the Taskforce
lacked direction and was taking steps to address this weakness.
Echoing the Norwegian ambassador's suggestion, Poloff predicted that
the SPLM taskforce would not launch a conference that was
inconsistent with the party leadership's goals.

6. (SBU) Some donors also expressed concern that Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim had told the JMST that
he would not attend a conference in Southern Sudan. Sudan
Liberation Army (SLA) faction leader Abdulwahid al-Nur has similar
reservations. Other factions of the SLA, including SLA/Abdulwahid
field commanders, insist that a meeting to unite the SLA should
precede the SPLM meeting in Southern Sudan. (Note: The SPLM claims
to have received assurances from a wide variety of faction leaders,
including Abdulwahid, that they will attend the SPLM conference.

KHARTOUM 00000900 002.2 OF 003

End note.)

NGO Initiatives

7. (SBU) The JMST said there was a lack of coordination among the
initiatives proposed by non-governmental organizations. While
noting the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue's proposal to facilitate
greater cohesion within the SLA in preparation for a conference, the
JMST was concerned that its meeting in Nairobi could overlap with
the SPLM's conference in Southern Sudan. Haavisto reported that
Presidential Advisor Maghzoub Al Khalifa had objected to allowing
rebel leaders to attend a meeting outside Sudan. Given National
Congress Party (NCP) opposition, the UN and AU said that Chad was
reticent to permit the SLA field commanders to transit their country
en route to Nairobi while Kenya was concerned that allowing the
meeting could jeopardize their proposed summit for IGAD.

8. (SBU) Haavisto said that some rebel leaders were in Asmara for
Eritrean-sponsored talks and were unlikely to leave for Nairobi. He
also said that faction leader Ahmed Abdulshafi had refused to attend
the CHD meeting, preferring instead a proposal from the Community of
Sant Egidio to hold talks in Rome. The UN/AU asked that CHD and
Sant Egidio coordinate and emphasized that any NGO initiatives
should complement SPLM efforts. (Note: Poloff met with Sant' Egidio
representatives on June 5. Unlike CHD, which has long-standing
relationships with Darfur political leaders and field commanders,
they had not made contact with any rebel leaders except Abdulshafi.
Reporting from Embassy Kampala indicates that Abdulshafi is willing
to attend the CHD meeting. SPLM Taskforce members also say
Abdulshafi is willing to attend the SPLM conference. End note.)

9. (SBU) Poloff reported that CHD was coordinating with the SPLM and
that its proposal was necessary to make the meeting in Southern
Sudan successful given SLA commanders request for unity talks.
Dialogue with SPLM Taskforce members in Juba, however, indicates
little effective coordination to date. He questioned the military
and political weight of the rebel leaders in Asmara, explaining that
the value of including them in SLA organizational talks was to avoid
them becoming spoilers. However, they should not be allowed to
prevent a constructive meeting. Poloff further noted that the NCP
should not be allowed to dictate the UN/AU process. He said that
CHD had selected Nairobi because Abdulwahid had said he would not
come to Sudan. Poloff suggested that an explicit UN/AU endorsement
of CHD was likely to persuade Chad and Kenya to provide assistance.

Eritrea and the "Regional Initiative"

10. (SBU) Having returned from two days of meetings in Asmara,
Haavisto and Ibok reported that the Eritrean government was holding
unity talks for SLA faction leaders Khamis Abdullah, Sharif Harir,
and Abdullah Yehia under a "regional initiative" that included Chad
and Libya. Eritrean officials Yemane Ghareab and Abdullah Jabr had
stated that these talks would last until the end of June and had
said that they had a mandate from the NCP for their initiative.
They then wanted to send the group to Southern Sudan to attend the
SPLM conference with other rebel groups. This conference would lead
to formal negotiations between the rebels and the NCP in Asmara.
Ghareab and Jabr admitted that Abdulwahid, Abdulshafi, and Ibrahim
would not participate in an Eritrean-led process or go to Asmara.
(Note: While the UN/AU said it was unable to reign in Eritrea,
Asmara may be emboldened by the tacit support of some Western
donors, particularly Norway. End note.)

UN/AU Roadmap Flailing

11. (SBU) The donors asked for precise timelines delineating a
strategy, requested "more guidance from the UN and AU," and
suggested that the UN/AU serve as a "clearinghouse" for the
international efforts. Ibok responded that "it was difficult to say
which initiatives had a comparative advantage." The UN and AU
stated that they had originally envisaged a three-stage roadmap for
the political process: 1) The CHD meeting in Nairobi to bring
greater organization to the SLA; 2) The SPLM meeting in Southern
Sudan to prepare the rebel movements for negotiations with the NCP;
3) Negotiations.

12. (SBU) Overwhelmed by events, however, the UN/AU has drifted.
Interference by Sant' Egidio has obscured the momentum generated by
CHD for an SLA meeting. The NCP's opposition to rebel leaders
leaving Darfur raises real concerns within the UN/AU. The
disconnects within the SPLM--which will be resolved in time--have
led the UN/AU to "rethink" the SPLM's role. However, the JMST

KHARTOUM 00000900 003.2 OF 003

continues to insist that all NGO initiatives, such as CHD, should
feed into the SPLM meeting. While emphasizing that Eritrea must
play a part in the political process to prevent it from being a
spoiler, the UN and AU have not shaped its role, either directly or
by calling for assistance from countries that can influence Asmara.
The UN/AU's role as chairman of the regular contact group meetings
based on the Tripoli format has been undermined by France's
announcement that FM Kouchner will convene a ministerial-level
meeting of the "Tripoli Plus" in Paris on July 25. (Note: The
French Political Counselor told Poloff that this group would include
representatives from the April conference in Tripoli and other
African countries, including Ghana. End note.) Though UNSYG Ban Ki
Moon has been invited, France did not consult the UN in advance.


13. (SBU) The international community, including the Sudanese
Government and the regional actors, gave the UN and AU a mandate for
the Darfur political process in the Addis Ababa agreement of
November and reiterated it in the Tripoli Consensus of April. The
UN and AU have yet to act on this mandate to channel the efforts of
Western donors, regional governments, and NGOs. The USG should
press the UN/AU to return to its three-stage strategy: A CHD meeting
to bring more organization to the SLA, an SPLM meeting to prepare
the rebel movements for negotiations with the NCP, and negotiations
involving UN/AU--not Eritrean--mediation.

14. (SBU) Comment continued: Strong UN/AU endorsement of a strategy
would pressure the disparate factions to participate in the process;
garner Kenyan and Chadian support for the CHD meeting; facilitate
coordination with the SPLM and increase the chances of success of
its conference; encourage France to push Abdulwahid to attend both
the CHD meeting and the SPLM conference; and weaken support for
Eritrea, which is exploiting the UN/AU disarray. A UN/AU strategy
will show the Sudanese Government--and its backers such as
China--that the international community is serious about both an
effective political process and an effective peacekeeping operation
for Darfur. This strategy will also hold the Sudanese Government
accountable to its commitment to support the UN/AU lead and engage
in serious negotiations with the non-signatories. End comment.

15. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

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