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Cablegate: Unmamid Civil Affairs Attempting to Lay Grassroots

VZCZCXYZ5742
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #0333/01 0661333
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061333Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0131
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000333

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UN US SU
SUBJECT: UNMAMID CIVIL AFFAIRS ATTEMPTING TO LAY GRASSROOTS
FOUNDATION FOR PEACE IN DARFUR UNAMID UNABLE TO STOP FIGHTING IN
WEST DARFUR BUT WILLING TO TRY TO SUPPORT HUMANITARIAN EFFORT


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) UNAMID Head of Civil Affairs provided an overview of
incipient efforts to strengthen civil society in North Darfur and
its influence in an eventual peace process. UNAMID will hold a
broad civil society workshop on land issues in mid-March, the first
in a series that will focus on various topics related to the Darfur
conflict. Helping to build internal Civil Affairs staff capacity
and fortifying the nascent institutions of the TDRA are two critical
areas of potential (and requested) USG assistance. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------------
STRENGTHENING CIVIL SOCIETY IN NORTH DARFUR
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Poloffs met March 5 with UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
Head of Civil Affairs and acting civilian Chief of Staff Wariara
Mbugua to discuss ongoing efforts to organize and strengthen civil
society in North Darfur to more effectively participate in an
eventual peace process. Mbugua described her vision of civil
society engagement as shifting the focus of dialogue with civil
society representatives from general themes of security and
power-sharing and wealth-sharing to specific discussions on IDPs
expectations for compensation, security, and political empowerment.
She emphasized that Civil Affair's (CA) role is facilitative, thus
putting the onus on civil society groups, including tribal
representatives and IDPs, to sharpen their own agendas and represent
their constituencies.

3. (SBU) As part of this effort, UNAMID CA in North Darfur hosts
weekly civil society meetings, usually attended by up to 40
participants of diverse gender, political, tribal (including Arab),
intellectual and professional affiliations. The CSOs collectively
nominated a Secretariat that takes minutes, drafts agendas and,
eventually, may play a role in determining which representatives
will participate in peace talks as "experts" in a specific domain
(i.e., land, power sharing, wealth sharing, security, compensation,
humanitarian).

4. (SBU) Mbugua observed that the forum has gained momentum over the
last weeks and, to preserve its transparency, also includes
government officials from the land commission. She contended that
the presence of GoS officials in the meetings did not deter civil
society members from voicing their opinions, though she conceded
that political parties, present at the gatherings, should eventually
be "peeled away" once UNAMID's political affairs capacity grows. CA
has also closely monitored and reacted to any reprisals against
civil society participants. In mid-March, UNAMID will facilitate a
workshop in El Fasher focused on land issues, to be followed by
other workshops on specific peace-related topics. (Note: PolOffs
will attend the workshop. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Mbugua noted that CA is working closely with the Joint
Mediation Support Team (JMST) to help identify representative civil
society leaders to participate in the peace process. Above all, she
stressed, the nominees for such positions--who would convey the
views of their constituencies and report back to them--must come
from the CSOs themselves, without interference from UNAMID. Mbugua
commented that part of her strategy is to encourage CSOs to make
their positions known more publicly, which could give civil society
stakeholders greater leverage over other actors, especially the
armed movements. Mbugua stated that UNAMID Civil Affairs offices in
South and West Darfur were pursuing similar approaches in organizing
and fortifying civil society, though making progress in these other
two states remained a challenge because of the more complex tribal
dynamics--particularly with regard to Arab tribes--and GoS
interference.

--------------------------------------------- ---
USG HELP: BUILDING CAPACITY AND BACKING THE DPRC
--------------------------------------------- ---

6. (SBU) Following up on previous conversations with FieldOff,
Mbugua identified two critical areas where the U.S. Government might
be able to lend assistance in bolstering Darfurian civil society.
First, she noted that the newly established Darfur Peace and
Reconciliation Council (DPRC) in North Darfur lacks the most basic
capacity and desperately needs help in operationalizing its mandate.
Expediting the institutional strengthening of the DPRC would not
only reinforce a key structure in the Transitional Darfur Regional
Authority (TDRA), but also provide a tangible demonstration of
Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) implementation. Mbugua expressed a
similar interest in "invigorating" other institutions of the TDRA,
such as the Land Commission, so they can perform much-needed


administrative functions. For example, she suggested that CA could
co-locate staff with the commissions.

7. (SBU) Second, Mbugua suggested that the U.S. might help build
UNAMID Civil Affair's internal staff capacity so as develop such
skills as grassroots negotiation, mediation and facilitation. She
pointed out that her existing staff excelled as reporting and
monitoring officers, understood the political context, and had
excellent contacts. However, the expanded civil affairs mandate of
UNAMID required aptitude in transforming and building relationships
between different groups, skills that many of her mid-level civil
affairs officers lacked.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) Mbugua is among the few officers in UNAMID, the JMST, and
the Darfur Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) who has been
capable of articulating a vision for addressing the issue of civil
society in the peace process, and who understands that UNAMID's
mandate still includes implementation of the DPA. The fact remains,
however, that UNAMID Civil Affairs, JMST and DDDC have all
under-performed, for various reasons, so far. The USG could consider
programmatic approaches to building UNAMID Civil Affairs staff
capacity, including through mediation and facilitation skills
workshops. Finally, having been a principal proponent of the DPA
and its institutions, the USG can play a concrete and visible role
in its implementation--and help the peace process--by supporting
Mbugua in her efforts to increase the capacity of the TDRA's
institutions so they can function as intended.

FERNANDEZ

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