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Cablegate: Goss Minister Kwaje On Abyei Border Compromise, Lra Talks,

VZCZCXRO4471
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0519/01 0970850
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060850Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0444
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000519

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SE WILLIAMSON AND AF/SPG
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI SU UG
SUBJECT: GOSS MINISTER KWAJE ON ABYEI BORDER COMPROMISE, LRA TALKS,
AND POSSIBLE CENSUS BOYCOTT


1. (SBU) Summary: On the evening of April 1, CG Datta was invited to
a GoSS dinner in honor of the visiting South African Foreign
Minister. At that dinner, Datta had a long discussion with Samson
Kwaje, GoSS Minister of Agriculture and prominent player in the
SPLM, that touched on an NCP offer on the Abeyi border demarcation,
the census, the state of negotiations with the LRA and the CPA
Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC). End summary.

Abyei Border Offer a "Poor Deal"
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) CG Datta mentioned to Kwaje that he had heard that a
compromise on Abyei border demarcation might be near at hand, with
the NCP conceding a more northerly line, closer to where the GoSS
thinks it ought to be. The reported deal would separate the land
and oil issues by allowing the North to continue to benefit from oil
revenues produced south of this border line. The Minister responded
that such an offer had indeed been made and that while the SPLM is
studying it, he expected the SPLM to turn it down.

3. (SBU) Kwaje said the offer does bring the Abyei demarcation
close to where the SPLM thinks it should be, but on either side of
Abyei it shaves off considerable segments of Southern territory for
the North that contain large mineral resources. The South would
never give those areas up simply to get what already belongs to it
by right in Abyei. It is a poor deal, he concluded. (NOTE: As
reported septel, the NCP tabled for SPLM consideration a re-drawing
of Abyei's north-eastern border that excludes the oil-rich areas
surrounding Heglig. END NOTE)

Doubts About LRA Peace Deal
---------------------------
4. (SBU) Kwaje, who has been active in the LRA peace negotiations,
then expressed his extreme frustration with the latest delays by LRA
leader Joseph Kony in signing the peace agreement. Originally
scheduled to take place in Rikwangba on April 3, Kony said he could
not make it until sometime around April 10. Kwaje expressed anger
at Kony's continued delaying tactics, indicating for the first time
to CG Datta his doubts that Kony will sign at all. "He doesn't
trust Museveni or the UN," said Kwaje, "and I think he fears he will
be arrested or assassinated in Rikwanmba." The Sudanese, he said,
still hoped for an agreement, but are beginning to fear the peace
talks will collapse.

GoSS Census Boycott?
--------------------
5. (SBU) On the subject of the approaching national census, Kwaje
expressed the view that the GoSS will stage a boycott over the
absence of questions on ethnicity and religion. CG Datta advised
that such a boycott this late in the game would be ill advised, and
would allow the NCP to effectively blame the collapse of the process
on the SPLM. The international community, he said, would have a
difficult time understanding the reason for such a boycott, and it
would damage the SPLM's reputation, especially since the SPLM had
originally agreed to the removal of the questions and the
international community knows that.

6. (SBU) The Minister responded that while that might well be true,
the question of religion and ethnicity had been at the heart of the
long civil war between the North and South. Kwaje said that the NCP
always had justified its oppression of the South on the basis of the
alleged Arab/Muslim identity of Sudan, in which the South felt it
had no part. If the census fails to settle once and for all whether
or not Sudan is a predominantly Arab country, it has no value for
the SPLM. (Comment: The issue obviously touched deep emotional
chords in Kwaje, and no amount of persuasion by CG Datta concerning
the damage a census boycott would do to the SPLM in international
public opinion or to the CPA was able to convince him otherwise.
End comment.)

The SPLM and the AEC
--------------------
7. (SBU) Finally, CG Datta urged that the GoSS do a better job of
staffing the CPA's Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC), where
they are being ill served by a lack of experienced and qualified
personnel to represent their interests. This lack of engagement is
creating a poor image for the SPLM among the international community
represented on the AEC. The Kenyan Ambassador, who was
participating in the conversation and who sits on the AEC, agreed
with CG Datta, stating that the GoSS representatives are ill
prepared and usually have nothing to contribute at meetings.
Minister Kwaje expressed surprise at this news and said he would
raise the issued with senior SPLM leadership.

Comment
-------
8. (SBU) Minister Kwaje was no more pessimistic than normal about
the intentions of the NCP. The anticipated SPLM rejection of the

KHARTOUM 00000519 002 OF 002


proposed agreement on Abyei is disappointing, though to be expected.
The NCP improved its offer on Abyei in this latest round of
negotiations (septel) but the SPLM obviously believes it can get an
even better deal by holding out. As Kwaje's views are widely held
in the SPLM, we can expect to see continued confrontation between
the North and South in the coming months, especially over Abyei.

FERNANDEZ

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