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Cablegate: Unmis Considers Mandate Shift in Wake of Lra Violence

VZCZCXRO5524
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0863 1621416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101416Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1001
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000863

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, IO/PSC
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 MOPS KPKO UNSC SU UG
SUBJECT: UNMIS CONSIDERS MANDATE SHIFT IN WAKE OF LRA VIOLENCE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following a succession of highly visible, high
casualty LRA attacks in Southern Sudan, UN officials are discussing
a temporary shift of UNMIS's peacekeeping mandate from Chapter Six
to Chapter Seven. UNMIS Sector One officials, sensitive to
criticism leveled against their Sector Six colleagues in the wake of
the Abyei crisis, have committed to be "cautiously proactive"
pending additional directives from New York, but emphasize any shift
would be for a specific, limited duration. While the mandate shift
would place UN forces in Southern Sudan on equal footing with their
colleagues in the DRC, senior officials note that UNMIS is
ill-equipped to implement a Chapter Seven mandate, and the burden
for the South's security, and that of international and local NGO
staff, must largely fall to the SPLA. GOSS President Salva Kiir has
stood firm behind his stated one-month deadline for a signed peace
agreement before resorting to military force to deal "definitively"
with Sudan's LRA problem. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) forces attacked an SPLA
company outside of the Nabanga assembly area on June 5, killing 25,
including the company commander. This was an unprovoked attack
against the same SPLA unit that had been providing food and medical
care to LRA forces since the inception of the Juba Peace Talks in
2006. SPLA Chief of Staff Oyai Deng Ajak told Acting CG that the
SPLA was given advance notice of the LRA approach, but the company
commander assumed erroneously that LRA forces were bringing messages
to revive stalled peace talks, and were consequently unprepared for
the assault. On June 7, LRA forces attacked the village of Rosero
killing scores of civilians, including the paramount chief.

3. (SBU) Against the backdrop of renewed discussions between
Kampala and Kinshasa on potential joint operations against the LRA,
the SPLA has temporarily delegated to the Governor of Eastern
Equatoria state "full authority" over SPLA disarmament exercises so
that Juba-based commanders can refocus on two fronts: the 1956
North/South border and "the fresh, mercenary-like threat posed by
the LRA." The SPLA Chief of Staff has downplayed the possibility of
Khartoum's direct role in the recent fighting, but the SPLM's
continued distrust of their NCP partners would not allow him to rule
it out. High-level Congolese and Ugandan delegations arrive in Juba
June 10 to discuss the Government of Southern Sudan's role in any
forthcoming operations.

4. (SBU) UNMIS/Juba is examining after-action reports linked to the
Sector Six response in Abyei following direct criticism of the UN
security response from Government of Southern Sudan officials and
Foreign Minister Deng Alor. For the SPLM in particular, it has been
difficult to accept how UNMIS was able to interpose between forces
during SAF/SPLA clashes in Malakal, Upper Nile state in 2006, yet
they were unable to similarly deploy in Abyei. (COMMENT: UNMIS
officials note the weaponry used in the Abyei attacks was
significantly different, and it, plus a conservative read of the
Chapter Six mandate, prevented robust deployment. END COMMENT)
Although a mandate upgrade would insulate UNMIS from the LRA
perceiving it to be the "weaker" UN force compared with MONUC,
Sector One Commander Colonel Saluhhedin Maiji was pessimistic about
a possible mandate shift's impact beyond "symbolic public
consumption." "Unlike MONUC, we do not have attack helicopters, we
do not have the necessary armor to enhance our APCs, nor do we have
the right type of weapons for an aggressive Chapter Seven posture.
We cannot bring in what we would need fast enough. The most we
could do would be to achieve Chapter Seven, but abstain from direct
action." The burden for UNMIS's Bangladeshi military observers is
daunting: a 600-man force equipped with six armored personnel
carriers is charged with civilian protection throughout a sector
nearly twice as large as Bangladesh itself.

5. (SBU) Broader discussion with the Government of Southern Sudan of
a possible UNMIS mandate shift in the South is on hold pending
deliberations within the GOSS Presidency and the Southern Sudan
Defense Council about the scope of the current LRA threat, and
Juba's reaction to messages from Kinshasa and Kampala. UNMIS and UN
officials in Juba spent the greater part of the weekend in planning
meetings with the assumption that a military campaign will start
soon. Currently, no UN agencies plan to withdraw from the affected
area, and all UNMIS Team Sites are at their highest level of alert.


DATTA

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