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Cablegate: Aec Chairman to Convene Aec Plenary in Juba to Address

VZCZCXRO8660
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0777 1411332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201332Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0878
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000777

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KSCA OTRA EAID CDC SU
SUBJECT: AEC CHAIRMAN TO CONVENE AEC PLENARY IN JUBA TO ADDRESS
ABYEI FIGHTING

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: After consulting with AEC Coordinators May 20,
AEC Chairman Derek Plumbly said he would convene a special plenary
session of the Commission in Juba May 22 to address the recent
outbreak of fighting in Abyei. A previously-planned trip by the AEC
to the troubled region is not feasible right now because of the
fighting. At the meeting of AEC Working Group Coordinators, the
first version of the complete AEC Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) was
distributed for comment. The draft will be distributed to the two
parties early next month for discussions on the text and
recommendations. END SUMMARY

MEETING TO BE CALLED IN JUBA
----------------------------

2. (U) Chairman Plumbly convened the May 20, 2008 meeting of AEC
Coordinators to discuss the status of the MTE. However, the meeting
began with a discussion of what to do about the recent outbreak of
fighting in Abyei. The Chairman said two options occurred to him:
1) sending a fact-finding delegation to the area, and 2) convening a
special plenary session in Juba to discuss the fighting. The first
option, which the Three Areas Working Group has been considering for
some weeks, was not possible because of the security situation.
However, Plumbly said he had received agreement to the idea of an
AEC meeting in Juba regarding Abyei from the NCP and the SPLM.

3. (SBU) Plumbly said that the two sides seem tentatively to have
worked out a mechanism to move towards a solution on Abyei, with the
expectation that the mechanism would begin to be implemented after
the SPLM's ongoing political convention. The SPLM hopes the
international community, through the AEC, will urge the two parties
to move forward with this mechanism. Plumbly did not provide any
further details on this "mechanism."

PROGRESS WITH THE MTE
---------------------

4. (U) Also at the May 20 Coordinators meeting, the AEC distributed
the consolidated first draft of the Mid-Term Evaluation for comment
from the Coordinators. This version is based on the contributions
from the four Working Groups. After the AEC receives comments from
embassies (due by May 25), Plumbly will present the draft to the two
parties at a meeting of the AEC steering committee. This steering
committee is an ad hoc group consisting of the two parties and the
working group embassies to deal with drafting of the MTE.
Negotiations over the text will follow, but at the steering
committee rather than at the working group level. The Chairman said
he will attempt to keep discussions focused on the MTE
recommendations rather than the factual text of the report itself.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Post supports the Chairman's proposal to convene
a meeting on Abyei in Juba. This will likely be the foundation for
any further action by the AEC to calm passions over the disputed
region. While the CJMC - with participation from the UN, SAF, and
SPLA - is best situated to address the military aspects of an
agreement, the AEC is best situated to propose political solutions
to the impasse on the Abyei protocol - if there is full
participation of the signatories and observers to the Naivasha
process. By convening the AEC in Juba, the meeting has a chance of
serving this purpose, since the SPLM has not been participating
actively in previous AEC meetings of late. Regarding the MTE,
Plumbly may have hit upon a means to move the discussion forward
without allowing the two sides to get bogged down in bickering over
every phrase in the report itself, as happened during the production
of the two-year Factual Report last year. Limiting discussion of
the text to the Steering Committee may also serve to facilitate
involvement by the SPLM, which has been lacking in the MTE process
to date.

FERNANDEZ

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