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Cablegate: El Fasher Idp Rep On Hilal Appointment and Unamid

VZCZCXRO2574
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0121 0281118
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281118Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9801
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000121

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: EL FASHER IDP REP ON HILAL APPOINTMENT AND UNAMID

REF: KHARTOUQ0

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a January 27 meeting with FieldOff, a
representative of Abu Shouk internally displaced persons (IDP) camp
gave a local perspective on latest Darfur events, including the
appointment of former janjaweed militia leader Sheikh Musa Hilal to
the post of Advisor to the Minister of Federal Rule. He also
described IDP concerns about the mandate of the United
Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). END SUMMARY.

MUSA HILAL APPOINTMENT "NORMAL" TO IDPS
---------------------------------------
2. (SBU) In a January 27 meeting with FieldOff, a representative of
Abu Shouk IDP camp in El Fasher, North Darfur, dismissed the federal
appointment of Musa Hilal as a "very normal" action for the
Government of Sudan (GoS). Speaking on behalf of the IDP population
of Abu Shouk camp, he said that Darfurians are used to far worse
affronts than this appointment. He considered the announcement as
more of a slap in the face to the international community than to
the IDPs whom Hilal once persecuted, as well as a blow to GoS
credibility.

3. (SBU) However, the IDP rep expressed concern about rumors
circulating in Abu Shouk that Hilal's appointment would make him
part of the eventual peace negotiations on Darfur. FieldOff urged
the IDP rep not to encourage or to overreact to such rumors, noting
that most observers view the appointment as symbolic (reftel).
(Comment: However, it would not surprise us if the GOS does send
Hilal to the next round of negotiations. End comment). The IDP rep
assured that while Hilal's political visibility frustrated the IDPs,
it was not enough to make them resort to rioting or violence.

MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT UNAMID MANDATE
-----------------------------------
4. (SBU) Despite IDP suspicions that UNAMID is collaborating with
GoS police and Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signatories, the rep
predicted there would be no protests among IDPs in response to the
expanded presence of UNAMID. However, he highlighted three causes
for IDP distrust of UNAMID. First, he said that UNAMID cooperation
with GOS police presents a problem. IDPs equate the GoS police with
the janjaweed, since some of these former militia members were
incorporated into national police ranks. As such, for the IDPs the
GoS police represents the same "killing machine" which drove IDPs
from their homes in the first place, and for UNAMID to be seen as
cooperating closely with them as part of its policing
responsibilities is a blow to the peacekeepers' neutrality in the
eyes of the IDPs.

5. (SBU) Second, the IDPs are mistrustful of the DPA signatories, in
particular the Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minawi (SLA/MM). The
IDP rep said IDPs consider the DPA (which he called "Minni's peace")
too fragile to be sustained or trusted, so they have no confidence
in dealing with Minni's movement. Regarding UNAMID reports of a
rise in the number of armed elements in IDP camps, the rep blamed
SLA/MM. He also blamed SLA/MM for the rash of carjackings currently
plaguing the humanitarian community in North Darfur. "Minni's men
think Zam Zam [IDP camp] is their territory," he explained, "so they
come and go with as many arms as they please."

6. (SBU) The rep's final point on IDP perceptions was in regard to
the presence of arms in IDP camps. He blamed not only SLA/MM for
the upswing in armed elements in the camps, but also GoS-planted
"spies," such as Gimir and Kineen tribesmen who are residents of the
camps. The rep claimed these tribesmen are outfitted with GoS
uniforms and arms. He stressed the need for UNAMID to police the
camps and to disarm these groups as quickly as possible.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The lack of outcry from IDPs to Musa Hilal's
appointment is perhaps surprising, though presumably by now the IDP
population knows what to expect from the Khartoum regime. It is
imperative that UNAMID build trust with the IDP population and
remain neutral, otherwise IDP ties to rebel movements who are
perceived as protecting their interests will only strengthen,
particularly with SLA/Abdelwahid. The expulsion of non-signatory
Ceasefire Commission reps from El Fasher over recent weeks also
appears to have had little effect on the IDPs. It is worth noting
that Abdelwahid's reps remain in El Fasher, however, despite the
forced departure of other non-signatory movements' members. This
likely explains the muted reaction to the expulsions among
Abdelwahid's many supporters in the IDP camps.

8. (SBU) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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