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Cablegate: King of El Fasher On the Peace and Reconciliation Council,

VZCZCXRO5063
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0372/01 0731208
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131208Z MAR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0186
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000372

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KEDEM PREF SU
SUBJECT: KING OF EL FASHER ON THE PEACE AND RECONCILIATION COUNCIL,
THE CENSUS, AND ELECTIONS

REF: KHARTOUM 155

KHARTOUM 00000372 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: The Malik (King) of El Fasher said the Peace and
Reconciliation Commission in North Darfur has had some success in
fostering reconciliation among Arab and African tribes, but lacks
major funding from the GoS to carry out its work. The King also
spoke about the census and called for its postponement, stating that
there are many more pressing issues to be addressed in Darfur before
census and the elections can take place - namely, the achievement of
peace, stability, and the return of IDPs to their villages. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) On 10 March, poloff met with the elderly King of El Fasher
Rahamtalla Mahmoud at the North Darfur Peace and Reconciliation
Commission Office. The King, who is the Chairman of the Commission
for North Darfur State, was joined in the meeting by 16 staff
members who work on conflict resolution, media, and administrative
affairs for the Commission. [Note: The Peace and Reconciliation
Commission is part of the Transitional Darfur Regional
Administration (TDRA) - an institution born out of the DPA. Its
North Darfur office opened for business in April 2007. End Note.]

-----------------------
A NON-FUNDED GOOD IDEA
-----------------------
3. (U) According to King Mahmoud, the role of the Peace and
Reconciliation Commission is to create peaceful coexistence between
tribes in Darfur. The Commission provides conflict management
resolution and problem-solving for tribes in dispute. The King said
that the Commission has been instrumental in reconciling between the
Rezeigat, Mahameed, and Bani Haba tribes along the border of North
and South Darfur. He also said that the Commission has provided
dispute resolution for the Fur, Rezeigat, Zaghawa, and Birgit tribes
in North Darfur. The disputing parties have the right to choose
their mediators, which usually consist of well-respected local
sheikhs and community leaders. The mediators sit with the parties,
listen to their concerns and facilitate dialogue and negotiation on
issues such as land ownership and compensation. The mediators
reconcile the problem using local solutions, such as the giving of
diya ("blood money") or karama (the slaughtering of sheep to signify
forgiveness).

4. (SBU) Although the Commission has had some success in North
Darfur, the King described its many constraints. First, the
Commission has only received funding to pay salaries. The
Commission has no funding for implementing projects, providing
transportation for mediators, mediator training, or even for paying
mediators. Second, the Commission must submit project proposals to
the local Ministry of Finance in order to receive funding for its
projects. So far, it has submitted three proposals, none of which
has received a response. The King complained that the local
government is "disturbing" this process on purpose. Third, the
mediators are supposed to receive security support from the police;
however this has yet to be provided. Fourth, the King described a
complete lack of cooperation between the Peace and Reconciliation
Commission offices in the three states of Darfur. [Note:
Twenty-two staff members work at the Peace and Reconciliation
Commission in North Darfur. Commission funding is to be paid out of
TDRA funds which originates from the Central Ministry of Finance in
Khartoum. As of now, the Commission receives no donor support, but
it has requested that UNAMID Civil Affairs provide training
opportunities, equipment and transportation for mediators. End
note.]

-------------------------------
A CALL TO POSTPONE THE CENSUS
-------------------------------
5. (SBU) The King emphasized that the current situation in Darfur
does not create an "ideal environment" for the census to take place.
Due to the security and stability problems that Darfuris face, he
said, the census should be postponed. Many of the King's staff
chimed in to share the same concern about conducting next month's
census in Darfur. The overwhelming opinion was that the GoS should
be concerned with achieving peace, stability, and allowing for the
return of IDPs to their villages before carrying out the census and
elections. One staff member noted that if the census goes forward
and Darfur is left out (i.e. - the GoS decides not to hold the
census in Darfur and makes up for it by adapting 1993 census data to
the current year), it may lead Darfuris to "take another step
against the government in Khartoum." Staff also complained that the
Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has announced based on its
household mapping exercise, that there is no population in some
areas of Darfur, which is untrue. One staff member projected that
the census will be "fraudulent" and used the CBS mapping results as
an indicator of the GoS' intent to "manipulate the numbers." When
poloff asked the King why the GoS would want to manipulate numbers,

KHARTOUM 00000372 002.2 OF 002


he responded that the Peace and Reconciliation Commission was a
"civil, not political institution" and that the GoS should deal with
such questions. The King reiterated that the census should not take
place in April as planned because people are displaced and have no
basic services - how can they feel free to speak about the census
and elections when their problems are much bigger than that? He
urged that the GoS put peace and security for Darfur at the top of
its agenda and wait until Darfur was in a stable position before
conducting a nation-wide census and elections.

6. (SBU) COMMENT. The King, who commenced his reign in 1945, is
largely a figurehead in North Darfur with no executive power. Darfur
is particularly rich in kings, sultans, princes and other empty
noble titles - remnants of when it was an independent country in
1916. However, as the ethnic Fur leader of the native
administration, he has his finger on the pulse of civil society
through his deep connections with local sheikhs and community
leaders. The fact that the GoS is intentionally holding back TDRA
funds meant for the North Darfur Peace and Reconciliation Commission
shows the GoS' continued interest in blocking the implementation of
the DPA.

7. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: The census and the elections are
certainly not at the top of Darfuris' agendas. Peace, security, and
the return of IDPs to their homes are the Darfur peoples' primary
concerns. Without these things, the census and the elections are
meaningless for the Darfuri people. They do not want to be
disenfranchised yet again by being left out of the census and
electoral process, yet they plead for the postponement of these
events and urge the international community to re-focus on Darfur's
larger issues. This is not the first time Darfur and the CPA have
come into conflict, of course. The CPA should continue to take
priority to ensure national stability and prevent a return to war in
the South. Meanwhile the GOS and the international community must
continually seek ways of including Darfur in the CPA process, both
before and after elections, if and when they occur.

FERNANDEZ

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