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Cablegate: Back to Square One in Fnl Negotiations

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJB #0176 0951251
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 041251Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0876
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000176

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL BY
SUBJECT: BACK TO SQUARE ONE IN FNL NEGOTIATIONS


1. (U) SUMMARY: The Political Directorate (PD) (Executive
Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nation
Youssef Mahmoud, French Ambassador Joel Louvet, South African
Ambassador Mdu Lembede, and Tanzanian Ambassador Francis
Mdowla) informed the diplomatic corps in an April 4 briefing
that negotiations with the Palipehutu-FNL (FNL) are back to
square one. Previously, the FNL agreed to return to
Bujumbura on April 1 per the provisions of the "Program of
Action" established in February by the facilitator of the
implementation of the cease-fire agreement, South African
Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula. Now,
however, the FNL insists on several preconditions before its
return to Bujumbura. The two major preconditions are the
enactment of a new law passed by the National Assembly that
provides immunity to the FNL, and a change of facilitator.
The facilitator will convene a meeting of the Chairman and
Vice-Chairman of the Regional Initiative (Ugandan President
Yoweri Museveni and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
respectively) as soon as possible to seek guidance on how to
proceed. END SUMMARY

2. (U) The FNL claimed no preconditions for a return to
Bujumbura for negotiations when it signed on to the "Program
of Action" outlining a way forward for implementation of the
cease-fire agreement on March 1. However, the PD told the
diplomatic corps that talks for the scheduled April 1 FNL
return to Bujumbura fell apart in late March over security
concerns. The FNL, citing mistrust of the Government of
Burundi (GOB), refuses to return to Bujumbura to rejoin the
Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM), the
negotiating group responsible for implementation of the
September 2006 cease-fire agreement, until a new law is
passed by the National Assembly guaranteeing FNL immunity.
The current legal framework guaranteeing immunity for crimes
committed prior to the signing of the cease-fire agreement in
September 2006, and sufficient for FNL participation in the
JVMM in 2007, is now regarded as inadequate by FNL
leadership.

3. (U) The FNL asked the PD to create an "Act of Engagement"
holding the PD responsible for FNL security in Bujumbura
pending the enactment of an immunity law by the National
Assembly. The PD does not believe it has the capacity or
capability to make such a guarantee and informed the FNL that
the GOB and the African Union (AU) are responsible for FNL
security. The FNL then made several new material demands as
a precondition for its return to the JVMM, including
additional per diem, a vehicle, and additional allowances for
lodging and cell phones for each of the 11 FNL negotiators
scheduled to return April 1.

4. (U) Concluding that a stalemate has been reached, the
facilitator issued a letter April 1 informing the FNL that
the facilitator will seek the guidance of the Regional
Initiative on a way forward. On the same day, the FNL issued
a letter to President Kikwete citing PD and facilitation bias
towards the GOB, and stating that the FNL will not return to
negotiations until the facilitator is changed. A meeting
with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Regional
Initiative is set to take place as soon as both Presidents
are available, sometime in mid-April. The facilitation will
also seek an emergency meeting of Special Envoys to the Great
Lakes Region to share the latest developments and seek the
Special Envoys input.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: All parties expressed frustration and
impatience with the FNL during the meeting. More than once,
the PD expressed its concern that the FNL has a hidden agenda
that prevents it from committing to a return to negotiations.
The excessive demands for additional benefits for FNL
negotiators seemed especially troublesome to the PD, as those
details were already established in a technical agreement
reached in Dar es Salaam in mid-March between the AU and the
FNL. Considerable discussion was also given to the large
quantities of carrots being offered to the FNL and the lack
of adequate sticks. The PD mentioned the sanctions against
the FNL as listed in recent Tripartite Plus Joint Commission
decisions as a possible stick, but recognized that enforcing
sanctions against the nebulous FNL would be difficult. While
one diplomat did raise the possibility of a plan B (i.e.
military action), the PD did not address that option and
encouraged the diplomatic corps to remain engaged in the
peace process. END COMMENT
MOLLER

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