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Cablegate: President Bashir Addresses El Fasher

VZCZCXRO4716
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1107 2051454
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231454Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1407
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001107

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: PRESIDENT BASHIR ADDRESSES EL FASHER

1. (SBU) For the first time in over a year, President Bashir
traveled to Darfur and delivered a speech in El Fasher July 23,
declaring the government's commitment to peace and economic
development in Darfur. Addressing a crowd of thousands at an event
with a heavy security presence, Bashir acknowledged that "injustices
had occurred in Darfur," but affirmed the government's dedication to
making peace, as it has done in other parts of the country. He
pointed to the CPA as the "greatest achievement in Sudan since
independence." He avowed a commitment to security for refugees and
IDPs to return to their villages and to demonstrate this, he
announced the return of 1,000 families to their homes. He praised
the people of Darfur for their wisdom and asserted the government's
willingness to bring together political and tribal leaders, whether
signatories or not, for a peaceful coexistence.

2. (SBU) Parallel to his message of peace, Bashir also pledged to
continue to develop Darfur, promising investment in infrastructure
for water, electricity, health, education, and agriculture.
Specifically, he asserted that construction of the "Western
Salvation Road" would be completed; the electricity grid would be
expanded to Darfur through Kordofan; and exploration would commence
for petroleum and mineral resources. He declared that wealth from
such natural resources would serve to enrich the people of Darfur
and not foreign interests trying to exploit Sudan. Bashir also
declared a commitment to implement justice in Darfur, and stated
that Sudan believes in God and answers only to God. He urged that
the ICC thus not serve as a distraction. He blamed enemies of Sudan
for continually trying to thwart Sudan's progress and disrupt peace
both in Darfur and the South, but vowed that they would not succeed.


3. (SBU) Although President Bashir's speech was moderate, other
speakers denounced the ICC indictment against President Bashir, and
made numerous inflammatory remarks against the United States and
Israel. One such speaker referred to President Bush as a "war
criminal", at which point CDA Fernandez walked out in protest.

4. (SBU) Following the public event, President Bashir met with a
delegation of IDPs behind closed doors. Following the meeting, some
of the IDP representatives told CDA that they have no problem
accepting Bashir as president, "but what is important are deeds and
not words." They demanded action on compensation, security, and
development. They felt Bashir's speech was positive, but was
"nothing new." President Bashir also met privately with JSR Adada,
FC Agwai, and SRSG Qazi. Read-outs of these meetings will follow
via septel.

5. (SBU) Comment: Although Bashir's trip to Darfur has attracted a
great deal of attention and is calculated to demonstrate that the
president is eager to find solutions to the Darfur crisis, Bashir
unfortunately offered little new. Absent a radical departure from
this policy of gradualism, the situation on the ground in Darfur is
unlikely to change and the president is unlikely to gain support for
a deferment in the ICC indictment.

FERNANDEZ

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