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Cablegate: Un/Au Mediation Briefing for S/E Williamson Convoluted And

VZCZCXRO9376
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0289 0590555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280555Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0056
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000289

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF S/E WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR, AND ALSO PASS USAID

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM MARR MCAP MOPS SU
SUBJECT: UN/AU MEDIATION BRIEFING FOR S/E WILLIAMSON CONVOLUTED AND
LACKING STRATEGY

REF:

1. (SBU) In a convoluted briefing for S/E Williamson on February 25,
the senior leadership of the UN/AU Joint Mediation Support Team
(JMST) offered few details on its strategy to re-energize the Darfur
peace process and was unable to articulate methods for addressing
the challenges confronting the mediation. Deputy Special
Representative of the Secretary General and UN Chief Mediator Taye
Brooke Zerihoun instead recounted the tortuous history of the UN/AU
mediation effort since the 2006 Addis Ababa agreement. He explained
that Khartoum's ongoing attempts to foment division within Darfur's
rebel movements, the conflict between Sudan and Chad, the
pre-conditions to participation in negotiations set by Sudan
Liberation Movement (SLM) leader Abdulwahid al Nur, and the slow
pace in deployment of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) have led
some to question whether the peace process was launched at the right
time. He nonetheless argued that UNAMID will be less effective
without a political settlement for the region.

2. (SBU) The one positive development since peace talks collapsed in
Sirte, Libya in November 2007, according to Taye, was that the
myriad rebel factions had begun an "internal dialogue" that has led
to their consolidation into five main groups. He did not outline
how the mediation plans to capitalize on this success. The UN/AU
will conduct further consultations with the "international partners"
on this question both before and during a meeting of the Tripoli
Format scheduled for March 18-19 in Geneva.

-----------------------------
What Has Changed Since Abuja?
-----------------------------
3. (SBU) S/E Williamson questioned why the Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) and Abdulwahid's SLM--two groups that walked out of
the Abuja peace talks and remain among the most formidable political
and military forces in Darfur--would return to negotiations. Taye
and the Chairman of the Darfur Darfur Dialogue and Consultation
(DDDC), Abdul Mohammed, restated the history of the final stages of
the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) negotiations and underscored
Abdulwahid's erratic personality. "The agreement was written for
Abdelwahid, not Minni," said Mohammed, "and it wasn't until the last
minute that we found he wouldn't sign." Regarding JEM, Taye said
that the movement's "agenda" expanded beyond Darfur and was heavily
influenced by both the Chadian leadership and Popular Congress Party
(PCP) leader Hassan Al Turabi.

4. (SBU) Pressed by S/E Williamson whether these dynamics had
evolved, Taye acknowledged Abdulwahid's ongoing, erratic behavior
and unwillingness to join negotiations unless he "was the King" of
the rebel movements. Taye suggested that the international
community consider "targeted measures," such as travel bans, that
would limit some rebel leaders' access to their supporters and
funders in the diaspora. S/E Williamson said that if the mediation
was unable "to change the rebels' interests, it doesn't matter if
they join the peace process."

5. (SBU) Mohammed described the UN/AU plan to establish advisory
councils of civil society representatives to attend peace talks in
order to pressure the rebel leaders to respond to their constituents
and to decrease "their grandiose perception of themselves as
political actors." When S/E Williamson asked why the UN/AU did not
convene these advisory bodies before the talks, Taye cautioned
against "overestimating civil society," which remained politicized
and volatile. "It's a balancing act," he explained. "If the
profile of civil society is too high, you risk losing the parties,
yet we want to help the rebels broaden their base of support to
re-assure them they won't become (irrelevant and weak like) Minni
Minawi."

6. (U) S/E Williamson did not have an opportunity to clear this
message.

FERNANDEZ

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