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Cablegate: Umma Party Attempts to Reconcile Chad, Sudan

VZCZCXRO7236
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #0136/01 0941753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZDK CLEAR YOUR LOGS
P 031753Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6137
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0464

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 000136

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/SPG AND AF/C
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UN AU CD SU
SUBJECT: UMMA PARTY ATTEMPTS TO RECONCILE CHAD, SUDAN

NDJAMENA 00000136 001.3 OF 002


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Ahead of Sadiq al Mahdi's upcoming visit to Chad, Sudan's
opposition Umma Party is attempting to broker an agreement between
Sudan and Chad for both governments to cease their support for rebel
groups. A member of Al Mahdi's advance party confirmed rumors that
Umma is in "serious talks" with the ruling NCP to resolve the Darfur
conflict by meeting some of the rebels' demands and then to
establish a power sharing arrangement between itself, the NCP, and
other opposition parties ahead of the Sudanese elections scheduled
for 2009. These developments give some credence to Darfurians'
fears that they will be excluded from securing their own voice in
political life because of back-room machinations. End summary.

----------------------------------
Striving for Chad, Sudan Agreement
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) As part of broader discussions with Sudan's ruling National
Congress Party (NCP), Sadiq Al Mahdi's opposition Umma Party is
attempting to broker an agreement between Sudan and Chad for both
governments to cease their support for rebel groups in each country,
Umma's chairman for Darfur told Poloff on April 1. Confirming
rumors circulating in Khartoum in recent weeks, Ismail Khitir
Abdelkarim said that Umma is in "serious talks" with the NCP to
resolve the Darfur conflict, claiming that the Sudanese Government
realizes that it is losing control of events and does not want to
risk the country's break-up. "Time is not with them," said
Abdelkarim, "and Umma's priority is for Sudan to remain united."

3. (SBU) Abdelkarim traveled to N'djamena with an Umma party
delegation to advance Al Mahdi's upcoming visit, scheduled for April
12. The delegation met with President Idriss Deby, who Abdelkarim
characterized as responsive to Umma's plan to find a "common
position" between Chad and Sudan and to establish a monitoring
mechanism to verify the cessation of Chad and Sudan's support for
rebel groups operating on both sides of the border. Al Mahdi
expects to table a written proposal when he arrives in N'djamena.
Recognizing that the Chadian rebels will continue their attempts to
overthrow Deby's government unless it shares power, Abdelkarim said
that Deby agreed to direct negotiations with the Chadian rebels to
prevent the outbreak of war.

---------------------------
Meeting Darfurians' Demands
---------------------------

4. (SBU) The primary obstacle to a political settlement in Darfur
remains the fragmentation of the rebel movements, said Abdelkarim.
The solution, he proposed, is to demonstrate that the NCP is willing
to compromise on Darfurians' key demands: unifying the three Darfur
states into a single region, creating a vice presidency slot for a
Darfurian in the national government, and specifying amounts for
compensation. Umma is working as an interlocutor between Sudan and
the rebel movements to build consensus on these issues as a
precursor to negotiations. Umma then plans to convene a conference
of the rebels and the NCP to "sit as Sudanese" and work out
agreements on the details of power and wealth sharing.

--------------------------
Delaying Census, Elections
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Abdelkarim stated that the elections cannot happen in
Darfur--or in the rest of Sudan--until Darfur's "political problems"
are resolved and suggested that both the census and elections be
delayed. "If not, the Darfur rebels will never stop and new
factions will keep emerging because there is no political deal," he
stated. "We must tackle the relationship between the center and
Darfur for elections to happen." With regard to the census
specifically, Abdelkarim predicted its results will be "unfair and
illegitimate."

-------------------------------------
Dividing Power Between NCP, UMMA, PCP
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) After neutralizing the Darfur rebel movements by meeting
some of their demands, Umma's goal is to conclude an agreement that
divides political power in Darfur among itself, the NCP, and Hassan
al Turabi's Popular Congress Party (PCP). Asked what Sudan's
interest is in concluding an agreement with the rebels or with the
opposition parties, Abdelkarim claimed that the NCP is growing
weaker and wants to shore up its own position by stabilizing the
country. Though power-sharing agreements with the opposition
parties will lessen some of its influence, they will ensure that the

NDJAMENA 00000136 002.5 OF 002


NCP still holds sway throughout the country, which it will otherwise
lose through competitive elections.

-------
Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Umma has lost most popular support in Darfur, its
traditional foothold in Sudan. Given that Abdelkarim's assessment
of the NCP's weakness and its willingness to meet Darfurians'
demands is overstated, Umma's attempts to broker peace between Chad
and Sudan as well as between Sudan and the rebel movements is both
an attempt to regain the party's base in the region and to ensure
itself an influential position irrespective of the 2009 elections.
Abdelkarim's admission that discussions between Umma and the NCP are
ongoing confirms Darfurians' fears that they will be excluded from
securing their own voice in political life because of back-room
machinations and underscores their lack of confidence in the
elections. As one key Darfur rebel leader told Poloff ironically
during a recent conversation, cooperation between Umma and the NCP
will mean that Darfur has "only one enemy instead of many." End
comment.

8. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

TAMLYN

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