Cablegate: Tdra in Need of Reform

DE RUEHKH #0817/01 1491135
P 281135Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) created the
Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) and the six
commissions tasked with implementing the various components of the
agreement. In general, the commissions are plagued by poor
administration and weak leadership, and characterized by overlap and
duplication. The TDRA's partisan agenda, along with its lack of
strategic planning capacity, risks undermining the impact of future
peace agreement implementation. Outside pressure will likely be
required to effect TDRA reform, recommendation in para 8. END

Administrative Issues

2. The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) created the Transitional Darfur
Regional Authority (TDRA) and the six commissions tasked with
implementing the various components of the agreement. The mandates
of the commissions are fairly well enumerated in the agreement, and
the scope of work of each individual commission is surprisingly
narrow. This should have made the commissions more effective by
limiting their work to specific activities. However what is clear
on paper is less clear in practice, and a lack of experienced
leadership and qualified technocrats has led to overlap and
considerable duplication. For example, the Darfur Rehabilitation
and Resettlement Commission (DRRC) is tasked with creating Property
Claims Committees to deal with property disputes that arise from the
return process. However the Darfur Land Commission is charged with
arbitrating disputes between contending parties over rights to land.
In conversations with officials from both commissions, neither
displayed an understanding of the distinction between property and
land, and neither expressed concern about possible overlaps.

3. (SBU) In another instance, officials from the Darfur
Reconstruction and Development Fund (DRDF) told FieldOff that they
were focused on education, water and sanitation and health. Not two
hours later, officials from the DRRC told FieldOff they too were
focused on education, water and sanitation and health. When
FieldOff noted that those were the exact areas covered by the DRDF,
DRRC officials literally stammered, saying "yes, well we will do
them in other areas! Like if DRDF is working in the North, we will
work in the South!"

4. (SBU) The DPA did not address the composition or internal
structures of the commissions, leaving such decisions to the TDRA
and commissioners. Many of the latter wasted no time creating
complicated bureaucracies and bloated payrolls. In general, the
commissions are divided into between six and nine directorates. In
general, between two and three of those directorates are tasked with
nearly identical scopes of work. A claim filed with the
Compensation Commission will be "investigated" or "evaluated" by at
least three departments, which helps to explain why that body
already has 180 employees, according to its executive director.
While each commission complained that they had not received the
funds promised by the DPA and therefore could not begin their work,
every official managed to list the array of properties and office
spaces they had leased and furnished without a hint of irony. (Note:
One commission, the DRRC, reported that it had received full funding
with no delays. Commissioner Ibrahim Madibbo, a Rizeigat, was
brought back to Sudan by GoS after 18 years in exile in Saudi Arabia
for resettlement projects, his strong GoS ties have ensured that
this commission is well funded and equipped. End Note)

Partisan Agenda

5. (SBU) The DPA gave the TDRA president the authority to appoint
key personnel, including the heads of the commissions. Predictably,
these bodies are led by Minni Minawi's cronies, and in some cases,
relatives. The impact of this decision on the efficiency of the
commissions was noted above. However the effects reach far beyond
administrative incompetence. Almost every TDRA official, from the
Secretary General on down the chain of command, noted that upon
receipt of the DPA money, projects and work would begin in those
areas controlled by the Sudanese Liberation Army Minni Minawi
(SLA/MM) faction "because those are the most secure areas." (Note:
One notable exception to this trend was the administration at the
DRDF, which has plans for projects throughout Darfur. End note)
With no Inspector General or other auditing or oversight mechanism,
it is unclear who will be responsible for ensuring that resources
are distributed throughout Darfur, rather than concentrated in
SLA/MM enclaves.

KHARTOUM 00000817 002 OF 002

Lack of Vision, Strategic Planning

6. (SBU) The TDRA was created as a temporary body; however, none of
the officials appeared to know the operational timeline of their
commissions (Note: According to the DPA, a referendum on the status
of Darfur should be held by July 2011, after which the TDRA will
either transition into a regional government or be dissolved. End
note). The purpose of the commissions was to assist Darfuris with
the transition from conflict to peace - i.e. to facilitate the
return of refugees and internally displaced persons, coordinate the
restoration of security, and promote peace and reconciliation. A
large portion of this work legitimately cannot or should not be
started in the current environment, given the ongoing violence and
insecurity. It would be unrealistic, even unwise, to expect the
DRRC to assist with returns while displacement continues, or to
expect the Darfur Security Arrangements Implementation Commission to
begin efforts at disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating fighters
when the fighting has not ended. However the commissions have not
engaged in strategic planning efforts to prepare for the time when
conditions are appropriate for these projects to begin, or for
balancing the lofty goals with the short life span of their
organizations. There is no planning for dramatic changes in the
situation in Darfur, positive or negative, including the possibility
of large scale displacements or returns. The only exception is the
DRDF, which has a five-year plan to focus on reconstruction,
rehabilitation and sustainable development, and has begun to
implement that plan.

7. (SBU) The commissions are currently biding their time, dabbling
in small scale projects while awaiting allocated funding from GoS
(funds which up to now have not been forthcoming, another bone of
contention for the commissions' members and leadership). In
general, these projects consist of addressing problems and conflicts
that are brought to their attention. The Darfur Council for Peace
and Reconciliation has sent tribal mediation teams in response to
village requests; the Darfur Land Commission has worked on land
rights issues related to the relocation of the TDRA headquarter to
El Fasher. The focus is solidly on mediation of arising and
existing conflicts, with no thought given to conflict triggers or
the prevention, rather than management, of conflicts.

Comment and Recommendation

8. (SBU) While non-implementation of the DPA has legitimately
hampered the TDRA's effectiveness, the commissions should be using
this time to focus on what will need to happen when the conditions
are right for implementation of a ceasefire or peace agreement.
Both public expectations and needs will be high, and well-researched
and well-coordinated planning could make the difference between a
peace agreement that fails to satisfy the people of Darfur (and
therefore fails to last...) and one that demonstrates the benefits
of supporting such an agreement to all Darfuris.

8. (SBU) RECOMMENDATION: The issues handled by the TDRA, including
land rights issues, resource management and compensation, are
amongst the most important and controversial of the conflict. There
is currently no body to ensure that implementation of TDRA programs
is done objectively or transparently. It is unlikely that the TDRA
will drastically alter its present course without pressure from some
outside body. Perhaps technical training in public administration,
organizational and financial management, and possibly even ethics,
could provide both increased capacity and some level of
international oversight for the TDRA and its constituent
commissions. Although the UNAMID Civil Affairs office has discussed
providing piecemeal assistance, that office will not have the staff
to undertake such an effort until 2009 at the earliest. Therefore
post recommends that the issue of TDRA reform be raised in an
appropriate donor forum - possibly on the Friends of UNAMID agenda -
to raise awareness of the issue, and the need for TDRA bodies to be
adequately prepared to support, rather than undermine, the peace


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