Cablegate: Ncp and Splm Sign Abyei Accord

DE RUEHKH #0859/01 1611454
O 091454Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On the evening of June 8, with great fanfare
before an assembled audience of media and diplomatic community
representatives, President of the Government of National Unity
(GoNU) Omar Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir announced the
completion of a new road map agreement to settle the North-South
dispute over the division of the oil rich territory of Abyei. While
the accord shows progress and gives reason to hope that this
flash-point in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement might finally be
headed for a resolution, Sudan is the land of paper agreements that
never quite get implemented. There is a long way to go before we
see the end of this source of NCP-SPLM conflict. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Following the outbreak of heated fighting between Sudanese
Armed Forces (SAF) and Southern People's Liberation Army (SPLA)
units in Abyei in late May that ended with the burning and looting
of the town and the displacement of more than 50,000 area residents,
tensions have run high between the NCP and the SPLM over the issue
of the demarcation of the border in this region. The CPA
established the Abyei Border Commission (ABC) to finalize the
North-South border, but its report was issued two years ago and the
NCP has consistently refused to accept its findings, claiming that
the ABC exceeded its mandate in awarding much of the territory to
the SPLM. Meanwhile, the SPLM has maintained that the findings of
the ABC are final, which has resulted the placement of SAF and SPLA
forces perilously close to one another in the area.

3. (SBU) For the last two weeks NCP and SPLM negotiators have
attempted to bridge the differences between the two sides, finally
resulting in the agreement signed on the evening of June 8. The
accord calls for, first, new security arrangements to establish
within 10 days a new Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) of combined SAF and
SPLM troops to maintain order in Abyei (allowing for the safe
separation of SAF and SPLA units), the deployment of police within
two weeks, free movement and access to the north and south of Abyei
for UNMIS patrols, and an investigation into the causes of the

4. (SBU) Following the creation of a secure environment, targeted to
take place by the end of June, the accord next calls for the safe
return of all IDPs to their homes with the financial assistance of
the GoNU and the international community.

5. (SBU) Step 3 calls for the establishment of an interim Abyei
administration, with an Area Administrator nominated by the SPLM and
to be approved by President Bashir. The Administrator's deputy is
to be from the NCP, although both are to be chosen from among the
residents of the area as originally called for in the CPA. The
Chief Administrator and Deputy will, with the approval of President
Bashir, appoint the heads of departments and members of the Abyei
Area Council. Finally, without prejudice to the final demarcation
of the Abyei border to be determined by arbitration, the oil revenue
from the oilfields in the areas under arbitration are to be
allocated in accordance with the wealth sharing arrangements noted
in the Abyei Protocol, and that 50% of GoNU and 25% of the GOSS
revenues from the arbitration area will to be used to finance
projects of benefit to the region.

6. (SBU) Finally, Step 4 of the accord calls for the establishment
of an arbitration process to make a final and binding decision on
the border demarcation, a decision to be rendered within six months
from the date of the establishment of the arbitration process.

7. (SBU) Following a public reading of the agreement in both English
and Arabic, First Vice President Kiir spoke, congratulating the NCP
and SPLM on developing a roadmap for the full implementation of the
Abyei Protocol. He lamented that it had taken 2 years and the
tragedy of the recent fighting in Abyei town to reach this point,
creating much needless suffering, but at least now a mechanism had
finally been created to overcome the stalemate. Kiir outlined the
potential benefits of the agreement, and reaffirmed the SPLM's
commitment to the establishment of peace and democracy. "We will
not go back to war," he stated firmly, "but we will be vigilant
against the enemies of peace." A new spirit of trust had been
established with this agreement, and although the conflict over
Abyei had wasted much precious time, the way was now clear to move
on demarking the whole of the North-South border and to start the
process of preparing for elections in 2009. Finally, he condemned
the recent attacks on Omdurman by the JEM, but he also called on the
GoNU to protect the rights of all citizens and not to violate those
rights based on ethnic origins, a clear reference to accusations
that the GoNU has been arbitrarily arresting and abusing natives of
Darfur in Khartoum.

8. (SBU) Last, President Bashir spoke, proclaiming that the toughest
part of the implementation of the CPA had now been addressed. The

KHARTOUM 00000859 002 OF 002

Abyei Protocol was the key to the CPA, and this important agreement
would again give hope to the people of Sudan. He briefly outlined
the conditions of the new agreement, and affirmed the need for
reconciliation, which would be greatly enhanced by the commitment of
oil revenues by both sides to help rebuild the region. Abyei, he
said, would change from a national problem to a national model of
conflict resolution.

9. (SBU) Comment: We are a long way from an end to the Abyei
conflict. On the good news side, this new agreement establishes oil
revenue sharing for the eastern sector of Abyei that did not exist
before but which was claimed by the SPLA, and we are seeing some
flexibility on the part of the SPLM on the possibility of
alternatives to the ABC report's border demarcation. On the
possibly good side, the accord also creates the mechanism for
establishing an administration in Abyei, for providing security for
the IDPs, for UNMIS to have access to the entire region, and for the
movement of IDPs back to their homes. All this, however, depends on
both parties putting into operation what they have signed without
attempting to stall or undermine the process by using loopholes to
delay or subvert its implementation, as we have seen so often in the
past with similar agreements. Finally, on the possible down side,
we have the continued insistence by both parties on an arbitrated
final settlement of the border. This has been tried before without
success when the NCP did not find the ruling of the Abyei Border
Commission to its liking and refused to accept the result. It would
probably be better if the SPLM and NCP would just sit down and
finally hammer out a political agreement that they both could live
with. At the very least, the arbitration time lines established by
the new accord means a settlement to Abyei will not be announced
until January of 2009 at the very earliest, and UNMIS has
highlighted to us that in order to have elections before 2010, voter
registration must begin by January 2009. If the borders of Abyei
are not settled or agreed upon by January 2009, it will be difficult
to register voters in solidly-constructed constituencies. This
arbitration scheme could well once again lead the NCP and SPLM in
circles and only serve to delay the two sides doing the hard work of
directly negotiating a final border demarcation that both can


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