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Cablegate: Dsrsg Zerihoun On Abyei, Darfur Political Process

VZCZCXRO2353
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0053 0151229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151229Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9705
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000053

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, S/E WILLIAMSON

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

SUBJECT: DSRSG ZERIHOUN ON ABYEI, DARFUR POLITICAL PROCESS

------------------------
FOCUS ON CPA, BOUNDARIES
------------------------

1. (SBU) Meeting with DCM Powers and SPG Director Lauren Landis on
January 13, the UN's Deputy Special Representative for the
Secretary-General Taye Zerihoun urged all parties to maintain focus

SIPDIS
on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) as it enters the third
year of its six year transition period. In this midstream period,
critical issues such as the census, elections, redeployment of
forces and boundaries remain paramount and largely unresolved.

2. (SBU) The 1956 demarcation line was a "legal fiction," Zerihoun
said. The looming issue of Abyei should be demystified, he
continued, and focus on the boundaries could help accomplish that.
Later in the conversation, Zerihoun said that the SPLM was willing
to give Missiriya citizenship rights on an individual basis, but not
blanket tribal rights to lands. Not all boundary issues needed to be
fully resolved, he suggested, citing Sudanese-Ethiopian border
arrangements as examples.

------------------------------------
NOT YET TIME FOR FORMAL NEGOTIATIONS
------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Talking about the latest iteration in the Darfur peace
process, begun in Sirte, Zerihoun said that the negotiating teams
now had three problems to solve: the issue of participation, the
venue and the substance of the next round of talks. The DPA would be
the basis of any negotiation, he said, but which parts? The recently
formed SLA-Unity and United Resistance Front (groupings from the
recent consultations in Juba and Umm Rai respectively) should come
together and possibly form a leadership committee, he thought.

4. (SBU) Zerihoun said that the formal political process was still
some way off; the AU and UN were currently developing plans for
focused workshops to take place at a regional meeting some time in
February. Zerihoun predicted that security protocols would be a
focal point during these workshops. Recognizing that Libya was an
unpopular host, Zerihoun said, "We will not sacrifice talks to the
venue." He added that the AU and UN were attempting to create
precedents for having talks in various venues (though likely not in
Juba). He himself was hoping to step down very soon from his
negotiator role, and said that a new negotiator could be announced
at the upcoming AU summit.

5. (SBU) Turning to Abdul Wahid Nur, still ensconced in Paris,
Zerihoun felt that he might become more "approachable," as the
French government supposedly set this as condition for extending his
visa. Abdul Wahid didn't need to physically attend the talks,
Zerihoun said, but simply to sanction them.

------------------
UPCOMING AU SUMMIT
------------------

6. (SBU) Landis pointed out that the upcoming summit provided an
opportunity to follow up on the Secretary's December ministerial
meetings in Addis Ababa, and to push IGAD on CPA issues. She also
assured Zerihoun that the new U.S. special envoy's brief would
certainly emphasize the CPA, and also to convey and reinforce
coordinated, non-ambiguous policy messages to the Sudanese
government.

7. (SBU) Comment: The AU and UN have agreed that a single, joint
negotiator must be appointed, which is welcome news. U.S.
participation at the AU summit presents another opportunity to press
this issue, but we must also strongly advocate that this negotiator
be confirmed as quickly as possible in order to effectively lead
consultations and talks, whenever they do occur. As witnessed in
Juba, bringing movement representatives together for consultations
requires tremendous logistical planning, but should be encouraged.

8. (U) SPG Director Landis did not have time to clear this cable
before departing Khartoum.

FERNANDEZ

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