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Cablegate: Darfur Roundup: Splm Minister Recounts Ambush in South

VZCZCXRO9237
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1487/01 2801206
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061206Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2021
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001487

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR ROUNDUP: SPLM MINISTER RECOUNTS AMBUSH IN SOUTH
DARFUR; SKEPITICISM ABOUNDS ON MINNAWI-TAHA AGREEMENT

REF A) KHARTOUM 1331
B) KHARTOUM 1445

1. (SBU) Summary: SPLM South Darfur Agriculture Minister Omer Abdel
Rahman Adam survived a harrowing ambush attempt, but refused to
speculate on the perpetrators. The incident has ignited outrage in
Darfur and as well as Juba, where Salva Kiir has ordered the
formation of an investigative committee. Meanwhile, SLM/MM former
ceasefire commissioner Adam Ali Ware reported that no progress has
been made on the implementation of the September 19 Minnawi-Taha
agreement, other than the halting of military operations. He
lamented that the lack of savvy within the SLM/MM movement is as
much of a hindrance to its implementation as the GOS' lack of
sincerity. UNAMID officials acknowledged their continued inability
to adequately respond to security incidents, but are hopeful that
increased political engagement with rebel factions will lead to an
environment of greater security. End Summary.

SPLM MINISTER SURVIVES AMBUSH IN SOUTH DARFUR
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On October 4 poloff spoke with Omer Abdel Rahman Adam,
Minister of Agriculture of South Darfur and leader of the 18 SPLM
officials who withdrew from the three state governments following
the August 25 killings in Kalma Camp (Ref A). On September 30, Adam
was the target of an apparent assassination attempt (though it could
also have been a very aggressive group of bandits) from which he and
his family escaped unharmed, though his bodyguard was shot and
killed.

3. (SBU) Adam stated that on September 30, he was driving from Nyala
to Kass for the Eid holiday to visit relatives. A body guard
occupied the passenger seat, while his wife and infant daughter sat
in the back. After passing the Bulbul area of South Darfur, he
reached Moraya Jangi, where he heard three shots he recognized as
coming from a G3 (7.62 mm automatic rifle), though he did not see
the shooters. He continued driving and soon after reached a bridge.
As soon as he drove onto the bridge two men emerged armed with
AK-47s. "I realized then that the three shots I heard earlier were a
signal for them to block the road," he said. "I decided not to stop,
and tried to overtake them with the car." One gunman fired shots
into the windshield, striking the bodyguard, who later died of his
injuries. Adam was not hit and continued to drive, successfully
fleeing the scene. About 100 meters down the road, he realized that
his fuel tank had been hit.

4. (SBU) Adam stated that he kept driving, and after about 2
kilometers, he reached a SAF checkpoint where he was stopped and
told the soldiers about the incident. There were approximately 30-35
soldiers present at the checkpoint, equipped only with one technical
(mounted with a 12.7 mm "Doushka") and a motorcycle. The soldiers
proceeded immediately to the scene of the ambush, some in the
vehicles and the rest on foot. "They caught three of them," he said,
but refused to speculate on the identity of the perpetrators. (Note:
a UN Security Situation Rep stated that reports suggest six persons
have been arrested and taken to Nyala. He further noted that the
Wali of South Darfur has indicated that the perpetrators will be
brought to justice, and the trial will be covered by the media so
that citizens will see the identity of the perpetrators and to which
tribe they belong. End Note.) Adam stated that Salva Kiir has also
formed an SPLM committee to investigate the incident.

5. (SBU) Adam proceeded to Kass and arrived at the hospital, where
he was met by supporters. He returned to Nyala that night in a
military and police convoy, along with the body of his guard, who
was later buried. Since then, "over 10,000 people came to my house
to offer condolences," he said. Adam will soon be traveling to
Khartoum and will meet with poloffs to further discuss the incident,
to be reported septel.

SKEPTICISM ABOUNDS ON DPA IMPLEMENTATION
----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) On September 29, poloff met with SLM/MM former ceasefire
commissioner Adam Ali Ware in El Fasher to discuss implementation of
the September 19 Taha-Minnawi Agreement (Ref B). According to Ware,
"no progress has been made, other than the halting of military
operations." But even this may not last, he said, noting that there
has been a constant movement of troops in North Darfur for the past
several weeks. Ware stated that in the week immediately following
the signing of the agreement, more than 120 4x4 vehicles modified
for military use (in the style typical of SLA) have been brought to
Darfur by the SAF. There are conflicting reports as to whether these
vehicles were delivered to Chadian rebels or are for SAF use, he

KHARTOUM 00001487 002 OF 003


said. In addition, Ware stated there has been a mobilization of Arab
militia forces from Kabkabiya to Kutum. Despite the fact that the
ceasefire has been honored, even by non-signatories, Ware stated
that it was "highly probable" that the GOS would launch new military
offensives during Eid to catch the rebels offguard (though this
prediction was later proven false).

7. (SBU) Ware was pessimistic about the implementation of the DPA,
in part because of the government's lack of willingness, but also
due to the inadequacies of his own movement. "It really depends on
who we bring to the negotiating table," he said, noting that the GOS
is full of very clever negotiators, something which his own
organization lacks. "Tijani is one of the very few capable" within
SLA/MM, he said. "We have people who don't understand what's written
in front of them," he said. He lamented that instead of enlisting
support from Darfurians with experience in politics and policy,
favoritism and cronyism have prevailed among SLA/MM. The movement is
also beset with command and control problems, he said. Ware says he
was planning to go out to the field, but Minnawi instructed him to
remain in El Fasher because he needs him there. "For what exactly?"
Ware wondered, noting that the ceasefire commission has been long
dead. (Note: Tijani told polchief October 4 that he remained
optimistic that the Presidency would issue several decrees in the
coming days that would link the DPA with the Interim National
Constitution, as agreed between Minawi and VP Taha in El Fasher.
Tijani said his meetings with Finance Minister Awad Al-Jaz had gone
well the previous week, and he remained hopeful that money would be
released into the TDRA. End note.)

UNAMID A POOR SUBSTITUTE FOR CEASEFIRE COMMISSION
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (SBU) Ware stated that UNAMID has been a poor replacement for his
former ceasefire commission. "In the days of the ceasefire
commission, we'd be on site within several hours of reports of an
incident," he said. "I won't name names, but several senior [UNAMID]
military officers" have been unresponsive to reports of fighting.
"They have their phones switched off, they don't answer, or they
tell you not to call them directly," he scoffed.

9. (SBU) Kemal Saoki, Director of UNAMID's Communication and Public
Information Division, acknowledged that UNAMID faces great
challenges in responding to security incidents. Because UNAMID's
military forces are so thinly stretched, "we have no means of
verification" of such incidents, he said. "We can only confirm them
through circumstantial evidence." He continued that UNAMID is often
the last to know when fighting takes place, noting that he has
frequently informed UNAMID military personnel of reports of fighting
after receiving press inquiries. "The rebels are very deft in their
communications and use of the media," he said, explaining how
commanders on the ground will call their spokesmen based overseas,
who in turn call Khartoum-based journalists, who then call UNAMID.
"Often we're not in a position to inform them," he said. He was
pessimistic that this would change, even with increased deployment,
though he noted that increased aerial capability would certainly
help.

10. (SBU) Sunday Ochoche, Acting Head of UNAMID's Political Affairs
section, noted that UNAMID must engage with Darfur's rebel factions
to counter the latter's feelings of marginalization and bring them
into the fold for better cooperation on security. He noted that a
recent UNAMID visit to Suleiman Marjan had been "very useful" in
this regard, and that he was looking forward to returning to SLM/MM
controlled areas from October 9-11 for similar outreach and
engagement. Ochoche, a thoughtful former professor and former
director of Nigeria's Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution,
also spoke of the challenges created by UNAMID's hybrid mission
status with regard to the possible ICC indictment of President
Bashir. "The UN is pulling in one direction [with regard to the
ICC], while AU country leaders are pulling in the other," he said.
Darfurians know whose side the AU is on, and this creates "critical
challenges for the functioning of UNAMID." The arrival of the
Chinese engineering contingent is also a worry, he said, noting that
Darfurians were "very afraid of Chinese troops." Adam Ali Ware noted
that many Darfurians also had a negative perception of Egyptian and
Jordanian troops, believing that as Arabs they are aligned with the
GOS, but that he himself had found them to be neutral. "They are
among the best and have exceeded people's expectations," he said,
noting that the same could not be said for AU troops.

MORE DARFUR INITIATIVES
-----------------------

11. (SBU) On September 29 poloff met with Ismail Rashid, program

KHARTOUM 00001487 003 OF 003


manager for Save the Children/Sweden in El Fasher and Fur community
activist. Rashid stated that he and other local Fur leaders are
working on a communiqu for concrete, grassroots proposals for
Darfur, which he characterized as "not an initiative, but rather, a
vision" of a stable developing region. The vision contains the
familiar themes of power sharing, security provisions and justice,
as well as addressing issues of social and cultural rights. It also
proposes the revival of traditional methods of justice and
reconciliation, said Rashid, who had himself participated in the
1989 reconciliation conference following the Arab-Fur conflict. He
noted that the "vision" differentiated itself from other civil
society efforts by representing IDPs on the ground, unlike the
various conference that have taken place outside of Sudan. "Those
discussions are not relevant or representative," he said. "They
discuss issues from an academic point of view, and opinions are
limited to those attending the workshop," adding that they undermine
grassroots efforts.

12. (SBU) On September 29 poloff met with Abdelshafie Eissa Mustafa,
a Fur SPLM Member and Minister of Health in North Darfur, at the
SPLM offices in El Fasher (Note: Like other SPLM Ministers in
Darfur, Mustafa withdrew from the government following the August 25
Kalma Camp killings.) Mustafa stated that while the SPLM has joined
the president's Sudan People's Initiative on Darfur, he and other
Darfurian SPLM members have been asked by Juba to form a taskforce
to articulate the SPLM's official view. Mustafa welcomed this
opportunity for involvement, noting that one of the SPLM's earlier
mistakes was not to involve its Darfuri members in its rebel
unification efforts. He noted that SPLM grassroots efforts to unite
the rebels were ongoing, but dismissed any attempt by the NCP to
solve the Darfur crisis. "All the recent battles have been initiated
by the government," he said, adding that "we've seen nothing new"
since Taha's visit to Darfur on September 19.

COMMENT
-------

13. (SBU) Comment: While the near-death experience of one of its top
ministers in Darfur may momentarily shift SPLM attention back to the
region, it's unlikely to herald a new chapter for SPLM involvement
in resolving the Darfur crisis. To date this involvement has lacked
focus and consistency. Observers have noted that previous efforts
by Juba to unite Darfur's rebel factions were more of a way for the
SPLM to exert leverage on the NCP than an attempt to bring peace to
Darfur. There is considerable pessimism on the implementation of
the Minnawi-Taha agreement, while the various Darfuri civil society
groups remain the most advanced in their thinking on possible
solutions to the Darfur crisis. Septel will report on several
current initiatives - all of which focus on one unified Darfur
region, a vice president to come from Darfur, wealth- sharing based
on population size leading to greater development, security and
compensation for IDPs, and land rights including a return to the
traditional Hakura land tenure system - as key ingredients to an
eventual peace agreement.

ASQUINO

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