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Cablegate: Goss Minister Benjamin On Abyei and the Icc

VZCZCXRO9861
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1081/01 1991427
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171427Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1367
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001081

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: GOSS MINISTER BENJAMIN ON ABYEI AND THE ICC

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1065
B) KHARTOUM 1059

1. (SBU) Summary: GOSS Minister for Regional Cooperation Barnabas
Benjamin indicated he is hopeful that GOSS President Salva Kiir will
successfully negotiate with VP Taha July 17 a solution to the
Administrator and Deputy Administrator for Abyei. As Kiir himself
told the CDA, he hoped to get an agreement on Abyei in exchange for
heading the committee that will address the ICC charges (Ref B).
Barnabas was deeply troubled by the delay in implementing this
critical part of the Abyei roadmap agreement, which he views as
another example of the NCP finding a difficult issue to renegotiate
in order in order to delay the implementation of an agreement it
does not like. We tend to agree with Barnabas, but Kiir should not
sell his services cheaply and should take advantage of the NCP
quandary on the ICC to get a solution on the interim administration.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Benjamin complained to CG that the delay in the selection
of an Administrator for Abyei was due to the fact that the NCP still
wanted to place a Misseryia in the Deputy position, and this was
unacceptable to the SPLM. Although he had expected Kiir to return
from talks in Khartoum on July 16, his return had been delayed and
he was now expected him back in Juba July 17 or 18. Minister
Benjamin hoped that Kiir would announce in a debriefing expected
later today or early tomorrow that the impasse on Abyei had been
solved. (Note: Kiir himself told the CDA he might be able to
negotiate past the impasse on the interim administration in exchange
for heading on the GNU Committee that will create a strategy to
address the ICC charges. The committee plans to focus on
demonstrating that the GNU has cooperated with efforts at peace,
generating a plan to address the Darfur crisis, and a legal strategy
to refute the ICC indictment. The Committee also includes VP Taha,
Senior Assistant to the President Minni Minawi (who is still in
Darfur), Assistant to the President and Eastern Front leader Musa
Ahmed, State Minister of the Presidency Bakri Saleh, FM Deng Alor,
Information Minister El Zehawi Ibrahim Malik, and Justice Minister
Abdel Basit Sabdrat. End note.)

3. (SBU) Asked who the choice of the SPLM would be for the
Administrator position, Benjamin indicated Edward Lino may be the
current SPLM choice once again since the NCP hasn't backed off it's
position to appoint a Misseryia to the Deputy position. Benjamin
reported that he is very concerned about the delay in appointing the
Administrator and Deputy, and said he believed it was a typical
example of the NCP finding a difficult issue to renegotiate in order
to delay implementing an agreement it does not want. On other
fronts, however, he was more optimistic. He said the SAF was in the
process of withdrawing from Abyei (albeit slowly), police forces
from both the North and the South were now in place and ready to be
trained by UNMIS, and the JIU was trained, positioned, and ready to
begin its work. Everything was moving forward, if a little behind
schedule, except for the Administrator and Deputy issue. (Note:
UNMIS confirmed to ConGen Juba today that the SAF has withdrawn
nearly 900 soldiers from the area, leaving about 250 in Abyei town
who appear to be packing in preparation for leaving. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Benjamin observed that Bashir wants Kiir on the committee
because he has credibility with the UN and with the West, and so can
talk to everyone and negotiate in good faith. Benjamin joked that
Kiir's first act as committee chair should be to turn over Ahmed
Harun and Ali Kushayb to the ICC. He then allowed that such a thing
was highly unlikely, however. Still, he said, the SPLM had to be
careful how it managed this affair so as not to become complicit in
helping to protect ICC indictees. Asked his opinion of the ICC
action, Benjamin opined that this will expose to Bashir the
seriousness of the situation in Darfur in the eyes of the
International Community, and that the NCP must be serious in solving
the problem of Darfur or face the consequences. There was still
time for Bashir to act, he said, since it will take a month or two
for the judges on the ICC to consider the case. If the UN is
allowed to do its work in Darfur, and if the peace process moves
forward, perhaps Bashir still has time to avoid an arrest warrant.

6. (SBU) Asked if arrest warrants for Bashir would threaten the CPA,
Benjamin said he thought not. "Individuals are not important to the
process," he said. "Garang died and the CPA continued." The same
could hold true with Bashir if the will to continue the peace
process remained.

7. (SBU) Comment: The speculation among informed observers in
Khartoum is that Kiir and Taha have been negotiating the interim
administration over the last two days in exchange for Kiir serving
on the ICC response committee. However, the committee has already
been announced and it appears that the CPA parties have not reached
an agreement on the interim administration, which is disappointing.
We advised Kiir and FM Alor not to sell their services cheaply but

KHARTOUM 00001081 002 OF 002


it appears that keeping the regime stable was of primary importance
to the SPLM after the announcement of the indictment. The SPLM's
highly moderated and nuanced statement on the indictment and the
Darfur conflict (a copy of which has been sent to AF/SPG) which
assigned no blame and offered the SPLM's services in resolving the
problem, shows how far the SPLM is willing to go in order not to
rock the boat.

FERNANDEZ

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