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Cablegate: Abyei Update June 19

VZCZCXRO3204
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0913 1711310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191310Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1098
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000913

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, NSC FOR BPITTMAN AND
CHUDSON
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 UPDATE JUNE 19

1. (U) SPLA and SAF contingents that will form the basis of the new
JIU battalion in Abyei began to arrive in Abyei June 19, according
to UNMIS. 310 SPLA troops arrived overland from Wau June 19, while
the 200 SAF arrived overland from Muglad with an additional 100 due
to arrive later the same day. UNMIS reported that its movements are
still restricted, but that it will press for greater movement now
that the new JIU is beginning to deploy. The SAF 31st brigade is
supposed to leave Abyei once the new JIU is fully deployed, but has
not yet made any moves toward redeployment according to UNMIS.
Replacement police contingents have not yet been deployed in Abyei,
according to both UNMIS and SPLM contacts.

2. (SBU) Vice President Ali Osman Taha will travel to Juba June 20
to discuss the interim administration and the arbitration mechanism
(as well as the draft electoral law) according to NCP negotiator and
parliamentarian Dirdiery Mohammed Ahmed. Dirdiery said the NCP will
not accept Edward Lino, the SPLM's current representative in Abyei
who has been viewed by many as a provocateur in the current crisis,
as the interim administrator for Abyei under the agreement. For
their part, the SPLM will not accept a Misseriya as the deputy
administrator, according to SPLM northern sector representative
Yasir Arman. SPLM contacts told CG Juba that possible alternatives
to Edward Lino include the SPLA's JDB representative Major General
Kuol Diem Kuol. However, Minister of the Presidency Luka Biong Deng
told CG Juba that he did not believe Edward Lino would be replaced.
(Comment: If the NCP is willing to concede that a Misseriya will not
have the deputy slot, the SPLM may be willing to remove Lino, though
this will be a tough compromise for both sides to accept. End
comment.)

3. (SBU) In a meeting with CDA Fernandez June 18, SPLM northern
sector Deputy SG Yasir Arman was optimistic about the Abyei
agreement and thought it likely the NCP would implement it. "The
biggest test will be the interim administration," said Arman. Arman
suggested that a Dinka NCP member such as Zakaria Atem would be
acceptable for the deputy slot. He pointed out that there are many
other positions in the interim administration, such as the
thirty-person "administrative council" to which local Misseriya
could be appointed.

4. (SBU) Arman laughingly noted that Atem's entire family is SPLM,
with Atem's eldest son serving as one of Foreign Minister Deng
Alor's SPLM bodyguards. Atem, with whom CDA Fernandez met in April
in Abyei at the NCP's fortress-like headquarters, is an elderly and
faithful minion of the NCP with a long and sordid history as
informer and agent of Khartoum. But he is also an Ngok Dinka and son
of Abyei.

5. (SBU) Arman believes that the NCP reached an agreement on Abyei
because they were afraid that "something big would happen" if they
did not. The aftermath of the Omdurman JEM attack, combination of
the UNSC visit and SE Williamson's abrupt departure scared them, he
said, and they wanted to demonstrate progress. Arman views wealth
sharing as the biggest obstacle in the Abyei agreement. He pointed
out that although the amount of oil produced will decrease over time
(this is a common point made by foreign diplomats hoping to
encourage the NCP and SPLM not to view Abyei as a major source of
future oil revenue) the price of oil is constantly increasing and
the amounts of revenue involved are still very large in Sudanese
terms, in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Arman said the SPLM
surprisingly did not push to address oil arrears in the agreement
because it would have blocked progress at a critical time during
negotiations. He said the SPLM hopes to address arrears during
arbitration discussions. (Note: During the first three years of the
CPA, no oil revenues from Abyei have been reallocated because an
interim administration was never put in place. End note.)

6. (SBU) Comment: Sending fresh troops to Abyei is the easy part;
negotiating the interim administration and the arbitration mechanism
is the true test of good will on both sides. With an agenda for
Juba that includes both Abyei and the elections law, Taha and Kiir
have an enormous, short-fused challenge before them and it is
unrealistic to expect full resolution on either issue this weekend.
What we could see, and would be both telling and worrisome, would be
deadlock over the two top officials for the region. Progress on the
composition of the interim administration alone would be a good
outcome for the discussions in Juba.

FERNANDEZ

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