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Cablegate: Unamid Sofa: Agreed but Not yet Signed

VZCZCXRO0706
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0184 0371218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061218Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9898
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000184

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, S/E WILLIAMSON, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPKO UN AU SU
SUBJECT: UNAMID SOFA: AGREED BUT NOT YET SIGNED

1. (SBU) The UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the
Government of Sudan have finalized language for a Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA), Joint Special Representative (JSR)
Rodolphe Adada's Special Assistant, Rana Taha, told Poloff on
February 6. Adada and Foreign Minister Deng Alor were
scheduled to sign the SOFA on February 6, but the ceremony
was postponed to February 10 because Alor is traveling in the
region. Taha said that both New York and Addis Ababa were
comfortable with the SOFA text at present--which guarantees
"unhindered access"--but is concerned that Khartoum may
request additional changes in the days prior to the signing.
Progress on a SOFA, if indeed implemented, would constitute a
major step forward in UNAMID deployment.

2. (SBU) UNAMID has decided to delay detailed discussions on
night flights, customs procedures, and land purchases until
the SOFA is signed. UNAMID interprets the current text as
permitting night flights and requiring expeditious customs
processing, Taha explained, but technical issues, such as
runway upgrades at airports in Darfur, will proceed after the
SOFA is "sealed."

3. (SBU) Comment: It strikes us as a very risky strategy not
to nail down the details of night flights and other issues in
the SOFA agreement, given that the GOS almost certain to use
any excuse to limit or manipulate UNAMID activities, but the
current agreement appears to be the best the UN can achieve
for now. UNAMID is presumably banking on the UN and the
broader international community pressuring or cajoling the
GOS if it does not allow UNAMID the unhindered access it has
supposedly agreed to. It will be important to hold the GOS to
this agreement, if indeed it holds, and most importantly, to
a broad interpretation of the SOFA which enables UNAMID to do
its work.
FERNANDEZ

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