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Cablegate: Unmis Regional Coordinator On the Situation in Abyei, Unmis

VZCZCXRO3752
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1033/01 1921228
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101228Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1293
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001033

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: UNMIS REGIONAL COORDINATOR ON THE SITUATION IN ABYEI, UNMIS
MILITARY CAPABILITIES AND ELECTIONS

REF: KHARTOUM 962

1. (SBU) Summary: In a July 9 meeting with Consul General Juba,
UNMIS Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan David Gressley
described UNMIS support for restoring security to Abyei and the
conditions that must be met before the UN will aid in the return of
IDPs to the town. He also reviewed the performance of UNMIS in the
region, and the limited capabilities of the UN forces deployed in
South Sudan, as well as the possibility of holding successful
elections in 2009. End Summary

2. (SBU) Gressley opened the discussion of recent events in Abyei by
explaining that UNMIS currently has 18 people in Abyei town itself
to monitor the current situation and help to prepare for the return
of IDPs to their homes. Until the security situation improves, 18
is the limit to what the UN will place in Abyei since that is the
maximum number that can be evacuated in a single MI-8 helicopter in
the event of renewed fighting. One of the jobs being undertaken is
the clearing of mines and unexploded ordinance from the town, a job
that has largely been completed. When the SAF moves out of Abyei,
and the new Administration is in place along with the Joint
Integrated Unit (JIU) and police, UNMIS will increase its presence
in the town.

3. (SBU) Gressley said that while the training of the Joint
Integrated Unit by UNMIS had largely finished and the deployment of
the JIU was now dependent on the final withdrawal of all SAF forces
from the town, police training had not yet begun. There were now
340 police sent by Khartoum in place and ready to be trained, but
the GOSS had not yet sent in their men, and until both sides had
their forces in place UNMIS training would not begin. The hold up
on the GOSS side was, Gressley thought, their search to find
candidates to join the contingent who were from Abyei. That was
taking time, but when they were ready, the UN was prepared to move
them from Wau to Abyei. He expected the total police force to
number between 700 to 1000 men when fully assembled.

4. (SBU) Gressley said that about 400 IDPs had returned to Abyei,
and he expected more will continue to trickle back over the coming
days. However, he stressed that the UN will not encourage or
support IDP return until the conditions were right for it and
security could be adequately guaranteed. This would require the
complete withdrawal of all SAF soldiers from the town and the
establishment of an Abyei administration, as well as the insertion
of the JIU and police forces. Short of those conditions, IDPs were
potentially only placing themselves in harm's way again.

5. (SBU) Gressley said that the SAF had begun to move out of Abyei,
but then stopped when a SAF soldier and UN MILOB were wounded in
Agok, just south of Abyei, by an SPLM soldier. The SAF soldier was
not seriously injured, but having been shot in the head the MILOB
had been evacuated to Nairobi where there is medical scanning
equipment to determine the extent of his injuries. Gressley said he
expected that officer would survive, but that it had been a close
call. Asked if he thought the SAF would use this incident as an
excuse to halt their evacuation from Abyei, Gressley indicated that
he did not think so, since if the NCP had made the decision to
withdraw they would probably continue. If they were not serious
about withdrawal, they could always find an excuse not to do so, and
did not need the incident in Agok to call a halt. In fact, there
were indications that the SAF would resume withdrawing from Abyei
within the next 24 hours, and he promised to advise the ConGen
should that happen. He said the SPLA had continued to withdraw its
forces from the region, as agreed.

6. (SBU) Asked about the performance of UNMIS in Abyei, Gressley
said that an independent review had been conducted (reftel) to
assess what happened before, during and after the fighting broke
out. He thought more might have been done to prevent the outbreak
of violence, but that once the two armies were engaged, in his view
there was little the UNMIS commander in Abyei could have done.
There were, he said, only 300 UNMIS soldiers in the Abyei UN camp at
the time, and their equipment was severely limited. The opposing
forces massively outnumbered the UN, and were far better armed with
heavy weaponry, including tanks and missile launchers. Fortunately,
civilian casualties had not been high, and the camp did move to
provide shelter to over 100 civilians seeking refuge from the
fighting. In fact, said Gressley, UNMIS faces the same problem all
over Southern Sudan. They are under equipped anD:*0PXSUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UNMIS REGIONAL COORDINATOR ON THE SITUATION IN ABYEI, UNMIS
MILITARY CAPABILITIES AND ELECTIONS


7. (SBU) On the subject of elections, Gressley stated his grave
reservations that preparations can be properly completed in time to
hold them in 2009. Even of greater concern, he said, is that if the
donor community pressures all sides to rush their completion in
2009, and the ground work as a result is poorly prepared, the
potential for increasing instability and violence, both North -
South and well as South - South, might be greatly amplified. The
experience with the census demonstrated just how fragile North -
South cooperation can be, and the holding of elections would be far
more complicated, with far more at stake for all concerned.

8. (SBU) Comment: We have heard from several sources that the SAF
31st brigade has resumed its withdrawal from Abyei. It has taken
too long already, and there remains a doubt in the minds of some
observers that the SAF will actually fully withdraw. CDA pushed NCP
party officials on this point in a meeting July 10, pointing out
that there is little hope of the regime changing its image in the
West if it cannot follow through on the Abyei roadmap (septel). We
agree with Gressley's assessment on elections; the Sudanese together
with the international community must be well prepared for elections
as the risk of instability is high, especially if the South
perceives that the North is angling to delay or scuttle the
referendum.

FERNANDEZ

KHARTOUM 00001033 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) On the subject of elections, Gressley stated his grave
reservations that preparations can be properly completed in time to
hold them in 2009. Even of greater concern, he said, is that if the
donor community pressures all sides to rush their completion in
2009, and the ground work as a result is poorly prepared, the
potential for increasing instability and violence, both North -
South and well as South - South, might be greatly amplified. The
experience with the census demonstrated just how fragile North -
South cooperation can be, and the holding of elections would be far
more complicated, with far more at stake for all concerned.

8. (SBU) Comment: We have heard from several sources that the SAF
31st brigade has resumed its withdrawal from Abyei. It has taken
too long already, and there remains a doubt in the minds of some
observers that the SAF will actually fully withdraw. CDA pushed NCP
party officials on this point in a meeting July 10, pointing out
that there is little hope of the regime changing its image in the
West if it cannot follow through on the Abyei roadmap (septel). We
agree with Gressley's assessment on elections; the Sudanese together
with the international community must be well prepared for elections
as the risk of instability is high, especially if the South
perceives that the North is angling to delay or scuttle the
referendum.

FERNANDEZ

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