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Cablegate: Goss Calls for Usg Intervention On Abyei

VZCZCXRO7749
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0774 1401522
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191522Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0875
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000774

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR HUDSON AND PITTMAN
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF EAID MOPS KPKO SU
SUBJECT: GOSS CALLS FOR USG INTERVENTION ON ABYEI

1. (SBU) Government of Southern Sudan Ministers Barnabas Benjamin
(Regional Cooperation) and Luka Biong Deng (Presidential Affairs)
requested US assistance on Abyei at a GOSS/UN/USG coordination
meeting on Abyei relief efforts May 19. More specifically, they
called for direct and immediate engagement on Abyei by Special Envoy
Williamson. Deng is not satisfied with the results of the May 18
Ceasefire Joint Military Committee (CJMC) meeting in the destroyed
town. A visibly irritated Deng admitted that the SPLA was poorly
represented at the meeting and dismissed the decision to release NCP
detainees as one "not applicable to the present context," and
denounced the documents as "rife with language that is out of touch
with the greater political situation."

2. (SBU) Regional Cooperation Minister Benjamin claimed that the May
16 decision, announced publicly at the SPLM Convention, by GOSS
President Kiir to restrain SPLA forces along the 1956 border and
disallow SPLA engagement in Abyei was "politically destabilizing in
the South." "We cannot continue this posture without assurances
from the international community that it will act," demanded
Benjamin. Benjamin said that Kiir's decision to withhold troops
from Abyei, despite the level of destruction and direct attacks on
SPLA JIU forces, shows the SPLA's adherence to the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement. He contrasted this with the actions of the SAF,
which resulted in skirmishes the evening of May 18/19 that killed
two SPLA. (NOTE: The CPA states that only the Joint Integrated Unit
should be deployed in Abyei. The SAF maintains both a JIU force and
the 31st Brigade. END NOTE). Deng was considerably more direct.
"The time has come where we will have to do something about this,"
said Deng, with a dismissive wave across the CJMC minutes. "A
confrontation is inevitable, this cannot stand."

3. (SBU) CG Juba defended Kiir's decision to exercise restraint,
pointing out that isolating the SAF role would bolster support for
the SPLA/SPLM in reaching an agreement on Abyei. Moreover, space
remained for action within the Ceasefire Political Commission (CPC)
and it behooved the SPLM to come to the meeting well-prepared. CJ
Juba advised that a detailed briefing to the diplomatic and press
corps should be considered. UNMIS David Gressly proposed troop
redeployments at the regional level, a reduction in SAF numbers
within the CPA, deployment of a fully functional JIU, and freedom of
UNMIS movement throughout Abyei and the former Western Kordofan
ceasefire zone. Gressly and Acting CG further stressed the need for
precise timetables. Deng enthusiastically accepted these points,
and Benjamin committed to gathering a "planning group" following the
close of tonight's national convention session.

4. (SBU) Returning to the USG role on Abyei, Deng requested calls by
Special Envoy Williamson to both President Bashir and First Vice
President Kiir on the matter, and suggested that immediate pressure
must be applied to counter the "recklessly provocative SAF."
Despite SAF comments during the CJMC, SAF Headquarters released a
press statement on May 19 noting that SAF deployment to Abyei was
required as a result of SPLA presence in the town, and would remain
until SPLA soldiers were withdrawn. CG Juba promised to pass this
message and briefed Deng on the Charge's considerable efforts on
Abyei since the crisis first broke, and plans for the May 30 SPLM
meeting with Williamson. Deng was grateful for the information, but
reiterated his call for direct approaches to Bashir.

5. (SBU) Comment: Benjamin and Deng have hourly and direct access to
President Kiir (although no SPLM leader seemed to be talking to him
about Abyei on May 15 when CDA and acting CG raised concerns on this
very topic with Deng, Lino, and FM Alor). While passing detail of
the Charge's efforts plus forthcoming initiatives by the Special
Envoy has relaxed Deng's stance, and momentarily restrained an
impassioned Benjamin, contact at higher levels would be appropriate,
given Kiir's propensity to make snap decisions from which he rarely
retreats.

FERNANDEZ

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