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Cablegate: Goss Vp Machar On the Lra and the Splm

VZCZCXRO8025
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0643/01 1161140
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251140Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0660
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000643

SIPDIS

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

REF: KHARTOUM 628

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: GOSS VP MACHAR ON THE LRA AND THE SPLM


1. (SBU) Summary: Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan
(GOSS) Riek Machar met with Consul General Datta on the morning of
April 23 and engaged in a wide ranging discussion that covered
fading hopes for a peace agreement with the LRA and the future of
the SPLM and the South. Machar continues to press the LRA leader
Joseph Kony to sign a peace accord, and plans to go to Rikwamgba on
May 10 to try again. On the SPLM, Machar fears that separatist
sentiment is growing within its ranks and is resulting in apathy
toward engagement with the North on critical issues. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Machar expressed his frustration and disappointment that
the LRA agreement was not signed as expected on April 10. He said
that although his information indicated that James Obita has been
made the new LRA lead negotiator, Machar was now only interested in
talking to Kony himself. Kony seemed to have a lack of
understanding of the peace agreement and, Machar thought, he was
getting contradictory advice from his advisors that was muddying the
waters. This could only be settled by speaking to Kony to address
his concerns directly. However, Machar said that Kony is reportedly
afraid to talk to him because he fears that Machar will have the
phone signal used to locate and attack Kony.

3. (SBU) One of the hang ups in the peace process, Machar said, is
that Kony expects a pay off of $400,000 from the US Government.
Machar had heard that an LRA representative had asked the US Embassy
in Kampala for this money and the request had been refused. Kony,
Machar said, is angry at him as well for also not providing money to
him.

4. (SBU) Finally, Kony is worried about his security if he goes back
to Uganda, and wants clarification from the Government of Uganda
(GoU) on the details. For instance, can he retain his own body
guards? If not, who will protect him in Uganda? And of course,
what mechanisms will be used in Uganda to try him for war crimes and
how will they function?

5. (SBU) CG Datta suggested that Kony was seeking complete amnesty,
which he did not believe could or should be provided. Machar
answered that he was not sure because amnesty was discussed at one
point and Kony refused it on the grounds that accepting amnesty
would be admitting to wrong doing, and Kony sees himself as a
freedom fighter who has committed no crimes, and therefore has no
need of amnesty.

6. (SBU) The CG asked Machar if he thought the reports that Kony had
killed another of his deputies was true. Machar said he knew it was
not true because he had received messages from the man. However, he
did think there were stresses building within the LRA leadership
over the peace process, which could be weakening Kony's hold over
the organization.

7. (SBU) Asked if he had any hope that the agreement would still be
signed, Machar said he had not completely given up. There will be a
workshop in Kampala on the 7th and 8th of May, he said, to be
attended by leaders from northern Uganda, representatives of the LRA
and from the GoU to discuss how the Ugandan courts would try Kony,
the ICC warrants, and DDR and how it will work. On May 10
representatives from this group and Machar will travel to Rikwamgba
one more time to see if Kony can be persuaded to sign the agreement.
Machar specifically asked that the US and other observer nations be
represented on May 10. As long as there was a possibility of a
_>Qo>?o>y??_Q^/Q?y:_/}=m7/\s&N-o>3"nQ|led if fighting resumed. The only thing
that could be counted upon in a return to war was more killing,
looting, suffering, and the further displacement of more innocent
civilians.

8. (SBU) As it happens, May 10 is also the proposed start date for
the SPLM convention in Juba, and the CG observed that the last time
Machar went to Rikwamgba he was there for five days, which if
repeated would cause him to miss most of this important political
meeting. Machar said that if the convention started on time, which
was not certain, he would only spend a day in Rikwamgba and then
return.

9. (SBU) The discussion then turned to the SPLM and the CPA. Asked
if the convention would choose a candidate to run for the national
presidency, Machar said he thought not, that this would be decided
internally by the leadership of the SPLM after the convention, which
he thought would focus more on regional and national policy issues.
Asked if he thought that Salva Kiir would stand for the national
presidency, Machar said he thought he would not. The CG indicated
that the USG has a very favorable opinion of Kiir, on the whole, and

KHARTOUM 00000643 002 OF 002


that should he run we would expect a united SPLM front to support
him. (Comment: The CG stressed this to Machar to telegraph that the
USG supported Kiir, and so should he given numerous reports of
Machar seeking to undermine his ostensible boss throughout the
south. His history in this regard, as is well known, is not good.
End comment.)

10. (SBU) Machar responded that he thought Kiir had little interest
in the North or in taking on the problems of a unified Sudan. His
heart was simply not in it. In addition to that, Machar feared that
there was growing sentiment among the ranks of the SPLM for
separation from the North in 2011, and that he thought Kiir himself
was increasingly inclined in that direction.

11. (SBU) This trend greatly troubled Machar, who said he thought
separation might well backfire. The South, he said, was more
economically tied to the North than most Southerners liked to admit.
Southern oil presently has to be shipped through the North, and
even in other economic areas there is more trade with the North than
most people realize.

12. (SBU) But even more troubling to Machar were the political
implications of separation. In his opinion, the country would not
just split into two, but would almost certainly split into three or
even four highly unstable entities, the South, Darfur, the North and
the East, making civil war almost a certainty. This war would spill
over into neighboring countries, and had serious implications for
unrest in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and the Congo. The
repercussions of a break up of the Sudan would likely reverberate
for years across Eastern and Central Africa.

13. (SBU) Further, even if the South did secede, that in no way
meant an end to problems with Khartoum, which would be ruled by a
strengthened Islamist government. In his view, "Islamic governments
are always a problem for their neighbors," he said. "They always
work to destabilize the non-Muslim states around them."

14. (SBU) Rather, said Machar, the SPLM should take advantage of the
strong support it can attract in other parts of the country to oust
the NCP from power and build John Garang's vision of a New Sudan.
It could be done, he thought, if the SPLM becomes serious in
organizing itself as a national party. It had much to do if this
was to succeed, but party leadership was showing little interest, he
thought, in taking this on. The growing conviction among members of
the SPLM, and especially among the SPLM GOSS ministers, is that the
NCP will never implement the CPA at the end of the day, and
separation is inevitable. This was leading to apathy on the part of
the GOSS to engage with the North on substantive issues, and this
was the reason for the last minute decision to postpone the census.
The South no longer trusted in the CPA process and was already
beginning to give up on unity as a viable option. This was a
serious mistake if it came to pass. Asked if he was considering a
run for the national presidency himself, Machar smiled and said he
would consider it.

15. (SBU) Comment: Machar's main objective may be to undermine GOSS
President Kiir, so we are reticent to trust much of what he says.
However CG has detected in the last month a growing pessimism in the
South that the SPLM can outmaneuver the NCP in regards to the CPA,
and a concurrent fatalism concerning any efforts to try. Machar may
well be correct that popular sentiment seems to increasingly look to
a break with the North in 2011, no matter the consequences or the
implications for stability in the region. The likely outcome of the
census for the South, which will probably show a lower population
count than is expected by the GOSS, will be to further fuel this
attitude. On the LRA front, Machar is determined to give peace not
just a chance, but every chance. Here again the odds on a
successful conclusion seem increasingly remote, especially given the
news that Kony is now looking for a golden parachute to his
retirement.

FERNANDEZ

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