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Cablegate: Special Envoy Williamson Meeting with Senior Splm In

VZCZCXRO3929
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0851/01 1600907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080907Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0983
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000851

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM EAID KPKO UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPECIAL ENVOY WILLIAMSON MEETING WITH SENIOR SPLM IN
KHARTOUM


1. (SBU) Summary: Special Envoy Richard Williamson met with the
senior leadership of the SPLM in Khartoum on May 31 to discuss
progress on the implementation of the CPA, the crisis in Abyei, and
the need for better coordination between the SPLM and the United
States in dealing with the National Congress Party (NCP). SPLM
attendees included Vice President of the Government of Southern
Sudan Riek Machar, the Deputy Secretary General of the Northern
Sector of the SPLM Yasir Arman, GoNU Foreign Minister Deng Alor,
Governor of Blue Nile State Malik Agar, Minister of Presidential
Affairs Luka Biong Deng, and GOSS Minister for Legal Affairs and
Constitutional Development Michael Makuei.

2. (SBU) Special Envoy Williamson opened the meeting by describing
the devastation he had witnessed in the town of Abyei, the scene of
recent fighting between SPLA and SAF units. Ambassador Williamson
expressed his view that no party is entirely at fault and no party
is entirely innocent - but that one part is probably more guilty
than the other. The leadership of GOSS President Salva Kiir during
the crisis, on the other hand, had been outstanding and his
restraint had prevented the situation from spiraling out of control
into war. The status of the CPA, however, was fragile, and
immediate steps needed be taken to lower the risks to peace. First
and foremost, a way had to be found to provide security in Abyei so
as to reduce tensions and the potential for another incident that
could spark a war.

3. (SBU) Ambassador Williamson offered the services of the United
States in helping to defuse the crisis, but he emphasized that the
U.S. would not impose a solution on the parties. Success in
negotiations would require both sides to embrace the decisions
reached. However, he recognized the problems the SPLM faced in
dealing with the NCP, and offered to help focus the attention of the
NCP on the consequences of a failure to follow through on
commitments. This could be done by using the tragedy of Abyei to
rally the support of the international community and the United
Nations to deal with the issue. With the presidency of the United
Nations Security Council (UNSC), beginning on June 1, the U.S. would
be well placed to focus attention on Sudan. Ambassador Williamson
reiterated support for GOSS President Salva Kiir, and said the
United States backs his decision to not let the CPA collapse.

4. (SBU) Ambassador Williamson next expressed his disappointment
with the SPLM decision to withdraw from the talks he was about to
hold with the Khartoum government. Describing the GOSS as a friend
and ally, Ambassador Williamson said that if the U.S. was to work
with the SPLM on securing the CPA and supporting the GOSS, the SPLM,
he said, had to be prepared to work closely with us. Withdrawing
from the U.S. - GOS dialog without informing him not only treated
the U.S. with disrespect, but being blindsided by the announcement
had undermined trust that the SPLM is a reliable negotiating
partner. Williamson said he was disappointed they pulled out of the
dialog, and he was disappointed he had learned of this decision from
the media. It had the appearance to trying to dictate to the U.S.
who it could talk to and who it could not, and the U.S. would not be
dictated to by anyone. Williamson emphasized that this breach of
trust must not happen again.

5. (SBU) Finally, Ambassador Williamson once again praised the
actions of President Kiir in Abyei in avoiding a war, quoting Kiir
as telling him, "We do not want to be responsible for the collapse
of the CPA." The Ambassador pointedly asked the assembled SPLM
leaders if they supported Kiir in this regard and in his handling of
Abyei.

6. (SBU) Vice President Riek Machar responded that the SPLM was
committed to the CPA, that the GOSS was committed to the CPA, and
that he and the others present all backed President Kiir in his
handling of the Abyei crisis. The theme of the recently completed
SPLM convention had been, he said, "No to war and yes to New Sudan."
"Our people suffered in Abyei," he continued, "and we could have
used force to settle it, but we did not." However, the Abyei border
was to have been settled by the Abyei Border Commission (ABC)
report, which the NCP had rejected two years ago in violation of the
terms of the CPA. Since then, the SPLM had tried to negotiate a
settlement, offering many interim solutions, but all had been
rejected. The NCP, he said, had created the crisis. Machar implied
that the timing of the Abyei fighting was, in fact, no accident, but
a deliberate attempt by the NCP to provoke the SPLM into war before
the Special Envoy was due to arrive in Khartoum. The NCP feared the
pressure that Williamson could bring to bear on the regime, and
hoped the SPLM would start a war to remove that pressure. However,
the SPLM had refused to be provoked.

7. (SBU) The decision to withdraw from the talks had not been
intended to undercut the Special Envoy or President Bush, but had
been taken because of the events in Abyei. Peace in Darfur and the

KHARTOUM 00000851 002 OF 003


full implementation of the CPA all depended upon actions that had to
be taken by the NCP, not the SPLM. The people of the South did not
understand why the SPLM would do anything to aid the NCP in
improving its relations with the U.S. after what had happened in
Abyei.

8. (SBU) Last, Machar pointed out that President Bashir had just
announced that it would take at least two years to establish a
lasting peace in Darfur, which was his underhanded way of announcing
that Darfur would not participate in the national elections in 2009.
Blocking Darfurians from voting, of course, helped the NCP in
national elections, since it removed a base of support for the
SPLM.

9. (SBU) Foreign Minister Deng Alor next told the Special Envoy, "We
almost went to war over Abyei. Salva kept it from happening, but we
can be forced to war in self defense." He agreed with the Vice
President that it had, in fact, been the intention of the NCP to
provoke the SPLM into a war, but their plan had not worked. He
regretted that the Ambassador had not been informed of the decision
by the SPLM to withdraw from the normalization talks, but said that
he had informed the State Department of the action in advance.

10. (SBU) The NCP was uncomfortable without the SPLM in the talks,
he continued, which he thought was having a positive impact on their
willingness to resolve the Abyei crisis. "They want us back because
we give them credibility in the talks with you." The purpose of
withdrawing was not to embarrass the U.S., or to try to dictate who
Williamson could talk to, but to leverage the NCP's need for the
SPLM's help in improving relations with the U.S. to force them to
end the Abyei crisis.

11. (SBU) What the NCP wanted on Abyei, he continued, was to submit
the question to arbitration. The problem was that the ABC report on
the Abyei border was already the result of binding arbitration, as
specified in the CPA, and all the NCP really wanted was to keep
arguing the case until it got a decision it liked. When he had
begun his term as the Foreign Minister for the GoNU, Bashir had told
him that he would implement the ABC report. He had not. This was
typical of how the NCP operated -- say one thing, do another. "We
need your intervention," Alor said. "If you don't, war is the
likely outcome. We don't want it, but tensions will overwhelm us."

12. (SBU) The rest of the SPLM delegation echoed the sentiments of
the Vice President and Foreign Minister, except that Yasir Arman
pointed out that following the JEM attacks on Khartoum, the NCP had
been victimizing all Darfurians in the city. Captured JEM leaders
were also being tortured, and this harassment and abuse of prisoners
had to stop.

13. (SBU) Ambassador Williamson responded by reiterating that the US
interest in Sudan was security and stability for all. There were
many issues related to the CPA that needed attention, but the most
pressing were the need to hold elections in 2009 and to hold the
Southern referendum on self determination in 2011. We had supported
the people of Southern Sudan in the past, he said, and would do so
again. We were contributing to the professionalization of the SPLA,
as well as to humanitarian and development assistance.

14. (SBU) The Ambassador repeated that the crisis in Abyei might
well present an opportunity to galvanize the international community
and the UN into action, and the U.S. was ready to help make that
happen, but the hard work of resolving the situation was up to the
parties involved. "We will not try to impose solutions." Further,
we must be asked to help so that it was clear that the SPLM wanted
the U.S. involved. If we were asked, then the SPLM must be prepared
to work closely and collaboratively with us. It was not enough for
the Foreign Minister to say that he had informed the State
Department of a decision on a matter that directly involved the
Special Envoy. They all had his telephone number and they needed to
call him directly. He had called all of them on many occasions to
coordinate his actions with them. They needed to reciprocate that
level of coordination. Even if they decided to take a path
different from the Americans on an issue (and friends could disagree
from time to time), they must reach out and talk to him before
acting or his efforts on their behalf would fail. On the subject of
Abyei, the Ambassador said if the SPLM wanted U.S. help, they should
make a public request for assistance or he would take no further
action in this regard. He stressed that unless both the NCP and SPLM
both felt ownership of the issue, effort as resolution will not
succeed. The SPLM delegation agreed to make such a request
immediately.

15. (U) S/E Willamson's delegation reviewed this message before
transmission.


KHARTOUM 00000851 003 OF 003


DATTA

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