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Cablegate: Cfc Team Visits Muhajeria and Hears Sla Demands

VZCZCXRO8752
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0901 1581651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071651Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7520
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000901

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND SHORTLEY

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPKO AU CD SU

SUBJECT: CFC TEAM VISITS MUHAJERIA AND HEARS SLA DEMANDS

REF: KHARTOUM 0884

1. (SBU) Members of the Force Headquarters Ceasefire Commission
(CFC) flew to Muhajeria Military Group Site (MGS) June 5 to
interview witnesses to the May 30 vehicle collision between the
African Union Mission to Sudan (AMIS) and the Sudanese Liberation
Army (SLA)/Minawi (reftel). The team hoped to interview two of the
uninjured passengers from the SLA vehicle about the collision and
dispatched the CFC SLA representatives to retrieve them from a
nearby village. After waiting nearly three hours, the
representatives returned empty-handed, saying that one of the SLA
witnesses was on his way while the other was unavailable.

2. (SBU) The team interviewed the driver of the vehicle behind the
armored personnel carrier that had collided with the SLA vehicle.
As instructed, he came prepared with a written statement and was
then questioned by the investigating team. He answered calmly and
kept to the facts he remembered but also noted when he wasn't sure
of some of his answers. The illiterate SLA witness brought a
statement that his legal advisor had written. He claimed the APC
driver had intended to hit the SLA vehicle but could not explain how
he came to that conclusion.

3. (SBU) The SLA representatives then introduced the local SLA legal
advisor, Othman Mohamed Haroun and the Muhajeria ground commander,
Ibrahim Hasan. Haroun wanted to know who comprised the
investigating team, which direction the report would go, the
duration of the investigation and how the committee would provide
compensation for the SLA deaths. Haroun claimed that "under
international law" the criminal - apparently the APC driver in his
view - and the APC itself should be put into the custody of the
police. Haroun stressed that AMIS' vehicles would only be returned
when his questions were answered. The investigation team leader
said that he would forward Haroun's concerns to the Deputy Force
Commander. Comment: While considering the collision "criminal,"
Haroun did not regard the shooting of the three AMIS soldiers and
the seizure of 13 AMIS vehicles the same way. End Comment.

4. (SBU) The Muhajeria Group Site Commander, Zambian LTC
Kaumbasango, told S/CRS Poloff he was frustrated by the incident
because it made AMIS look weak and could embolden the SLA to take
more drastic action. He said that an SLA soldier had driven one of
the stolen AMIS vehicles to a small shop outside the MGS front gate,
purchased something, and left. Kaumbasango described this as an
attempt to antagonize his soldiers. He was puzzled about the SLA's
motives. Kaumbasango explained that the surrounding area was
controlled by the Birgeit tribe, the Arab Maalia tribe, and the
Sudanese Government. Without AMIS, he said, the Zaghawa SLA would
be wiped out by their neighbors. He said his relations with the
previous SLA commander had been cordial, but they had deteriorated
after the arrival of the new commander from North Darfur two months
earlier.

FERNANDEZ

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