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Cablegate: Aec Plenary: Concern On Abyei Yields Verification Team

VZCZCXRO0395
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0352/01 0701424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101424Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0156
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000352

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KSCA OTRA EAID CDC SU
SUBJECT: AEC PLENARY: CONCERN ON ABYEI YIELDS VERIFICATION TEAM
VISIT; GEARING UP FOR MID TERM EVALUATION

REF: A) KHARTOUM 193; B) KHARTOUM 258

1. (U) Summary: Newly-appointed AEC Chair Ambassador (Sir) Derek
Plumbly chaired his first plenary meeting March 4. The most
significant agenda item was a discussion of drafting procedures for
the AEC's Mid Term Evaluation (MTE) as mandated by the Comprehensive
Peace Accord. The meeting also addressed the conflict stemming from
the recent designation by the SPLM of an Abyei Administrator and the
deteriorating security situation in that troubled region. The AEC
decided to send a Verification Team to visit Abyei. End Summary

New Chairman's debut
--------------------

2. (U) In his introductory remarks, Plumbly stressed his
determination to carry out his duties in an independent and
even-handed manner. He noted that the AEC secretariat staff has
been "denuded," and needs to be replaced. Plumbly also stated his
desire to hold occasional meetings in Juba.

MTE: Hew to the deadlines
--------------------------

3. (U) The AEC's priority is timely preparation of the MTE.
Plumbly confirmed that the two parties had approved the draft "Terms
of Reference" containing a time-line for completion of the MTE that
culminates in presentation of a report to the President by July 9.
An MTE Steering Committee, made up of representatives of each
Working Group Coordinator and the two sides, is to meet March 16 to
work out a draft skeleton outline for the MTE. Plumbly said a
"primary drafter" should be responsible for drafting the MTE.
(Earlier, Plumbly told Coordinators he is "shaking the tree" in
London to find a drafter, but would welcome suggestions from other
parties.)

4. (U) Among the other items raised by Plumbly:

-- CONSORTIUM MEETING: The next donor's Consortium meeting is
scheduled for April 22-23 in Paris, and Plumbly said he will attend.
There he will present a status report on the AEC and CPA, after
consulting with the members. April's Sudan Consortium would provide
an opportunity to encourage the international community to re-commit
to the CPA process.


-- BUDGET: Plumbly said he will present a draft AEC budget at the
next AEC plenary, after he hears from the four Working Groups (WGs).
In particular, he needs to know whether WGs will require field
visits to complete the MTE. He thanked the U.S. and Norway for
their recent commitments of funds that will allow the AEC to
continue operating.

-- FACTUAL REPORT: Plumbly urged members to constantly update the
two-year Factual Report as a running document.

ABYEI: Will the real administrator please stand up
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (U) The Dutch DCM asked the two sides to provide a briefing on
reports of recent violence in Abyei, and confusion over the naming
of an administrator for the area. Referring to Edward Lino, the
"administrator" named by the SPLM, the NCP stated that "it's illegal
to have an administrator who is not appointed by the Presidency."
The NCP representative acknowledged that the Abyei administrator
recently named by Misseriya tribal leaders is also illegal. He
reiterated that the SPLM is to nominate an administrator, but the
nomination must be approved by the Presidency. The Presidency is
awaiting a report from the SPLM before naming the administrator.
Recent violence was connected to the redeployment of the Sudanese
Armed Forces (SAF), he claimed, but added that the redeployment
would be completed by July. SPLM Minister Kosti Manibe defended the
SPLM's action in naming an administrator, saying it had acted to
address a chronic lack of government attention. For the last two
and a half years, he said, the people of Abyei have had to make do
without essential government services. "Abyei is both a part of the
North and of the South," he said.

Verification Team to Visit Abyei
------------------------------

6. (U) The Norwegian Ambassador noted that under the AEC's rules of
procedure, the AEC is empowered to send a "verification team" to
Abyei. The Netherlands, whose embassy heads up the Three Areas
Working Group, voiced support for sending a verification team. The
SPLM also expressed support. Plumley concluded saying that given
the urgent security situation in Abyei, he hoped the Three Areas
Working Group would send a verification team. (NOTE: The
Verification Team visit is scheduled for March 12-14, organized by
the (UK) Security Working Group. DLO and POL/ECON will represent
the U.S. Embassy. END NOTE.)


KHARTOUM 00000352 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) COMMENT: The NCP urged "a robust schedule of meetings" to
produce an MTE by the July deadline - implicitly drawing attention
to the SPLM's lack of depth in personnel it can detail to AEC
meetings. Other WG members confirm that, in recent weeks, Minister
Kosti Manibe has been virtually the only SPLM representative at AEC
meetings, and he is obviously spread very thin. The February 17
WSWG meeting had to be aborted after the SPLM sent a representative
not empowered to make decisions. The Norwegian Ambassador stated
that Norway is prepared to fund an SPLM staff member who would be
focused full time on AEC issues and activities. Given the scarcity
of personnel at some embassies and in the SPLM able to devote
themselves fulltime to AEC activities, completion of the Mid Term
Evaluation by the July 9 deadline will be a challenge.

FERNANDEZ

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