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Cablegate: Abel Alier Suspicious of Northern Politicians, but Also

VZCZCXRO2729
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0368/01 0721349
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121349Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0181
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000368

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: ABEL ALIER SUSPICIOUS OF NORTHERN POLITICIANS, BUT ALSO
URGES GREATER SPLM PARTICPATION ON COMMISSIONS


1. (SBU) Too many agreements have been dishonored, and northern
political parties are eager to open the CPA and block agreement on
Abyei, according to former Vice President and current co-chairman of
the National Constitutional Review Commission Abel Alier. CDA
Fernandez met with the elder statesman of Sudanese politics and
Dinka leader March 9 at Alier's home in Khartoum.

2. (SBU) Alier expressed frustration with the lack of agreement on
Abyei, noting that the solution for Abyei is obvious if northern
politicians decide to resolve the issue. Alier said the outlines of
the Ngok Dinka kingdom in 1905 are well known based on the transfer
of this territory to Southern Kordofan by the British at that time.
Even today Dinka names are used for towns in the area. As late as
1977 local councils and senior Misseriya officials in Southern
Kordofan developed maps for use by local administrators in Abyei,
which he said were derived directly from historic outlines of Abyei.
Alier related the story (which we have heard from senior leaders in
the SPLM such as GOSS Minister of the Presidency Luka Biong Deng) of
the discovery of several of these maps from 1977, following the
release of the ABC report, which he claimed had been intentionally
hidden from the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC). (Reportedly the
maps were discovered behind a file cabinet in a local
administrator's office in El Obeid.)

3. (SBU) According to Alier, the maps prove the northern boundary of
Abyei to be even further north than the findings of the ABC report.
Alier claimed GOSS Vice President Riek Machar brought this to the
attention of GNU Vice President Ali Osman Taha, but that the NCP
still refuses to allow a negotiating team unfettered access to the
area to compare the newly discovered maps with the actual towns.
Alier also placed the Abyei dispute in the context of northern party
politics, and implied that the NCP is using its ongoing talks with
the Umma party to delay resolution on the issue. "Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi
doesn't accept the CPA - and Abyei has most of the oil - so the
people in power whisper to the people in Abyei to prevent an
agreement." (Comment: In addition to expressing a common
misconception that Abyei has most of the oil, Alier seemed to imply
there may be a northern plot between the NCP and Umma parties to
deny the South - and the Dinka - access to all the oil they are
entitled to in Abyei. End Comment.)

4. (SBU) Alier said there are Misseriya who know it's in their
interests to keep the peace, but that the NCP are provoking them and
stirring up emotions on the issues of land and oil. Ominously,
Alier pointed out several times that "naked force is no longer the
monopoly of any particular group," implying that the SPLA is now
capable of military solutions as well. Alier was somewhat
optimistic about the deployment of the Joint Inspection Units (JIUs)
along the North-South border. "It looks like the two parties have
chosen to be level-headed on this issue." However, Alier alleged
that the government had embarked on a campaign to "re-draw the 1956
borders" and had "carved" areas of northern Unity State and Upper
Nile into northern Sudan. Alier lamented the perennial weakness of
the South, the lack of qualified individuals to participate on the
AEC and other CPA-mandated commissions which has led to South Sudan
being tricked by better prepared Northerners.

5. (SBU) Asked how the U.S. can improve its relations with Sudan,
Alier urged the U.S. to provide "credible advice about the situation
in Darfur" and to "be concerned about elections." Alier noted that
the elections law has been pending for over a year and said that all
parties must accept free and fair elections as principles. "We want
a law that passes with minimum marks so that if someone plays with
the elections, what is the punishment?" Alier said the debate
regarding direct vs. proportional percentages continued, despite the
fact that over a year ago all parties including the SPLM had
accepted the 60/40 split. "We hope the SPLM will come along," said
Alier. He lamented that when the SPLM does not have something to
offer they "adopt a policy of absenteeism" on the commissions.
Alier urged that the SPLM engage more actively in the AEC
commissions, but acknowledged that a "tough group of qualities" is
required to be successful on the commissions. He said the SPLA
needs to find savvy educated negotiators who are tacticians as well
as subject matter experts.

6. (SBU) Despite the many challenges facing Sudan, Alier expressed
optimism about the future of the CPA and peace in Sudan - "otherwise
I would not be involved." CDA Fernandez pointed out that many of
the problems at the periphery (Darfur and the South) are caused by
or related to problems at the center - weaknesses in leadership and
administration of the country at the political level in Khartoum.
Alier agreed fully and urged that the U.S. remain engaged in
addressing the problems and ensuring especially that there are free
and fair elections.


KHARTOUM 00000368 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) Comment: Alier's main concern is that northern politicians
are conspiring to take Abyei and its oil away from the South (and
the Dinka in particular). He is undoubtedly correct, as he has been
around long enough to know how politics works in Sudan - with
Southerners constantly exposed to northern manipulation. Alier's
comment that if the North wanted to solve the Abyei issue they could
do so immediately rings especially true - and we should remind the
GNU of this in our interactions with them. Proving his balanced
views (and likely due to his frustration leading the NCRC) Alier
also highlighted a significant problem facing the SPLM - the lack of
depth in qualified and trusted interlocutors to speak and negotiate
on behalf of the party at the AEC and other commissions. Part of
this is due to capacity (a small number of capable leaders in the
party stretched very thin) but also appears to be due to trust and
command/control issues within the party. The SPLM will need to
continue to develop a second tier of capable envoys and negotiators
if it is to grow and develop as a political party. Addressing this
gap would help the SPLM deal more effectively with the NCP, which
seeks to tie the SPLM (and the international community) in knots by
focusing constantly on process and legalistic issues - rather than
forthrightly on implementing the CPA, including acceptance of the
ABC report.

FERNANDEZ

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