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Cablegate: Abyei Accord May Be an Ncp Trap, Says Former Sudanese Fm

VZCZCXRO0381
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0898/01 1681410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161410Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1070
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000898

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: ABYEI ACCORD MAY BE AN NCP TRAP, SAYS FORMER SUDANESE FM

REF: A. KHARTOUM 859

B. KHARTOUM 772
C. KHARTOUM 448

1. (SBU) Summary: Lam Akol told CDA Fernandez that the SPLM views
the June 8 Abyei agreement as success, but the choice to refer the
border demarcation to international arbitration could help the NCP
delay a decision until after the 2011 referendum. A prolonged
arbitration process serves the NCP well, trapping the SPLM into a
legal morass as the interim border increases the ethnic
heterogeneity of Abyei. End summary.

2. (SBU) Former Sudanese Foreign Minister and Sudanese Peoples'
Liberation Movement (SPLM) turncoat Lam Akol welcomed Charge
d'Affaires Fernandez to his Khartoum home Monday, June 16 to discuss
recent developments in Abyei. Despite numerous setbacks that have
tarnished his stature, including a now-debunked alleged
assassination attempt in March (ref. C), Akol still maintains an
active voice in both North and South Sudanese politics. CDA
complimented Akol on his positive role in maintaining unity at the
May SPLM convention, convincing representatives from Upper Nile,
Jonglei and Unity states to vote as a single bloc in urging keeping
both GOSS VP Riek Machar and Akol's rival Pagan Amun in the party
leadership. Asked if Sudan had pulled back from the brink of
disaster, Akol commented that the May 10 attack on Khartoum/Omdurman
by Khalil Ibrahim's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rendered the
National Congress Party weaker, and, despite significant strategic
mistakes, strengthened both JEM's standing and the arrogant
Ibrahim's opinion of himself. "That the Sudanese Army would not or
could not fight was significant, but the security and police did
fight for the regime." He added that while SAF won't fight for
Darfur "people will defend their homes."

3. (SBU) Akol expressed limited optimism in this month's agreement
between the NCP and the SPLM Abyei, saying, "the Abyei Accord is a
solution in the sense that it will get things rolling." However, he
said the demographic quirks of Abyei border demarcation temper his
optimism. Greater homogeneity of Dinka in administrative units limit
access to oil fields, but greater access to oil (through more
expansive borders for Abyei) increases the ethnic heterogeneity by
adding large numbers of Misseriya. "Do we want people or oil? Can we
agree on an area that includes both? The interim border goes beyond
administrative units, including many more Misseriya than Dinka."

4. (SBU) Regarding the issue of border arbitration (ref. A), Akol
acknowledged that the NCP has won the upper hand from the June 8
Abyei agreement. "When you talk of arbitration, you talk of years.
If the ruling comes after 2011, what do you do with the current
border? Some (within the SPLM) think arbitration is a victory but
they don't look at the intricacies." Akol added, "the arbitration
court must have evidence," and listed historical trends that show
Abyei is part of the North: 1905, when Abyei was moved to Kordofan;
1939, when the Ngok Dinka chiefs chose to keep Abyei in "Dar
Misseriya" in Kordofan; and 1952, when Abyei chose again to remain
part of Kordofan.

5. (SBU) Akol claimed there is scant historical evidence proving
that Abyei was part of the south, and argued that advocates for
secession could be hard-pressed to win their case before a court of
arbitration. He noted that the southern argument that Abyei was
part of the South is based on an ethnic argument, not a historical
one. "They should have had a lawyer look at it before they signed on
June 8." He added that the new agreement "buries" the Abyei Boundary
Commission (ABC) and its report which, while rejected by the NCP in
August 2005, gave the SPLM the moral high ground in the dispute.

6. (SBU) Akol disagrees with analysts who assume that the conflict
over Abyei is a fight over untapped fossil fuel reserves. "The Abyei
problem did not come because of oil. The possibility of secession -
that Abyei won't want to go to the south - makes 2011 such high
stakes. Not oil." Akol pointed out that contradictory forces
determine Abyei's identity (and borders): one trying to restrict the
border in order to ensure a pro-secession majority for 2011, and the
other trying to enlarge borders to include enough oil wells for the
Abyei area to be self-sufficient. Akol predicted that such forces
will cause the South to become "more entrenched in their tribal
shells." "If you do not put forth policies that tend to unify
people, that have their interests intertwined, you can never get rid
of tribalism. The government must be conscious of this."

7. (SBU) Comment: Lam Akol's reputation as a wily, dubious character
in Sudanese politics is well warranted and underlines his political
astuteness, and everything he says should be taken with a grain of
salt since he often portrays SPLM decisions in a negative light.
Despite this, he remains in the party leadership and was in the
front row next to FM Alor at the May 2008 SPLM convention during
Salva Kiir's speech. He believes the June 8 Abyei agreement will

KHARTOUM 00000898 002 OF 002


prove advantageous to the NCP, tangling up the conflict in process
and trapping the SPLM - with its history of hasty decision-making -
into making a questionable legal case that Abyei has historically
been part of the South, despite evidence to the contrary. Akol may
be right, as Abyei's interim borders are likely to become the de
facto borders while the arbitration court decides Abyei's fate at an
undetermined date, possibly after the 2011 referendum, despite the
accord's best efforts to get a definitive solution within a year.

FERNANDEZ

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