Cablegate: First Aec Plenary of 2008 Upbeat

DE RUEHKH #0036 0100946
R 100946Z JAN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: A briefing by the NCP and the SPLM on their recent
political deal drew a large turnout to the first AEC Plenary session
of 2008 on January 8. However the parties provided only vague
details of their agreement. The international coordinators and
other observers will have to wait until the release of the official
implementation "matrix," promised in a day or two, to study the
agreement in detail. One detail to emerge is that the SPLM will
name an administrator to govern the disputed Abyei region. The NCP
will appoint the assistant administrator. Both sides highlighted
the fact that they had forged new lines of communication and reached
the agreement without outside intervention. END SUMMARY

Wait for the Matrix

2. (U) With many participants and observers eager to know the
details of the deal that ended the ten-week political crisis, the
AEC plenary was much better attended than normal. They were
disappointed when both sides said they would not go into details,
but instead promised that the "matrix" containing all the details of
the agreement soon would be handed over to the AEC chairman for
distribution to the Coordinators and other international observers.

3. (U) Both sides stressed that the big news to come out of the
agreement was that the two parties had achieved it without outside
intervention. The NCP in particular stressed that they remain
committed to the AEC as "the most important institution" established
by the CPA, and urged the international coordinators to remain
engaged. The SPLM delegates stressed that, but for a few small
incidents, the two parties had maintained their "strategic
ceasefire" throughout the crisis.

Joint administration in Abyei

4. (U) NCP negotiator and Presidential Adviser Sayed el Khatib
announced that the CPA partners had agreed to place the disputed
Abyei region under an administration to be led by an appointee of
the SPLM, with the assistant to be appointed by the NCP. This is a
temporary arrangement until a final agreement can be worked out.
Both sides confirmed that the Abyei portfolio now lies with the GNU

Presidential committee to tackle contentious issues
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (U) An NCP representative told the session that one provision of
the political agreement calls for a standing committee under the
Presidency, with representatives of the two parties. The committee
is to meet "continually" on the more contentious issues still
outstanding on CPA implementation.

Mid-Term review to stress "unity"

6. (U) Norwegian Ambassador Fridtjov Thorkildsen, as acting AEC
chairman, noted that the next big challenge for the AEC is to draft
a mid-term review on implementation of the CPA. He said that under
the terms of the presidential decree establishing the CPA, this
report "is to focus on the unity arrangements." He suggested that
he appoint an ad hoc committee, with a representative from each
party, to work out the "terms of reference" for the review. This
committee will aim to present a draft at the next AEC plenary, which
should be February 26. (Note: The AEC plans to revert to plenary
sessions held on the last Tuesday of each month).

7. (U) Ambassador Thorkildsen, coordinators, and the international
observers congratulated the two parties on working out a solution to
end their standoff. He concluded the session saying "this meeting
has confirmed my impression that this marks a new spirit of
cooperation between the two CPA parties." He encouraged the two
sides to continue with the series of "formal and informal"
communications they forged during the crisis to avoid future

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The spirit of good-will and cooperation on
display at plenary was refreshing, particularly to those who had
grown exasperated by the foot-dragging, mutual recriminations, and
nitpicking that had characterized most AEC meetings in 2007 but this
will be difficult to sustain given underlying tensions. Along with
the other observers, we look forward to release of the promised
"matrix" of the agreement to assist us in planning for upcoming
Working Group meetings. We will all be working to sustain the
feel-good atmosphere, even as we push to wring as much progress as
possible from the two sides in the months ahead. Post will forward
a copy of the matrix as soon as we receive it.


© Scoop Media

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