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Cablegate: Civil Society Initiatives May Miss the Boat

VZCZCXRO2350
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1504/01 2831526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091526Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2044
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001504

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.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: CIVIL SOCIETY INITIATIVES MAY MISS THE BOAT

REF KHARTOUM 1167

1. (SBU) Summary: Two Darfurian civil society groups are separately
working to combine existing civil society proposals with the hope of
developing a unified, comprehensive view of Darfurians on how to
resolve the crisis in their region, although neither anticipates its
work will be complete before the launching of the Sudan People's
Initiative on October 16. Polchief urged both groups to unify their
efforts and put forth a proposal as soon as possible to contribute
to discussions organized by the regime and the Qatari Government.
The Sudan People's Initiative, meanwhile, is apparently set to kick
off with a weeklong conference in Khartoum. Following these
deliberations, the NCP hopes to begin negotiations with the rebels
in Qatar by the end of the month. End Summary.

OVERLAPPING CIVIL SOCIETY INITIATIVES
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On October 5 poloffs met with representatives of the
"Unification of Darfur People's Vision" working group, a civil
society organization dedicated to developing a unified proposal to
resolve the crisis in Darfur. Though its core members are civil
society leaders and intellectuals who have participated in the
various international conferences on Darfur (Reftel), the group has
attempted to broaden its reach and claims to have sought input from
all aspects of Darfurian society. To that end, it has assembled a
roster of 192 individuals, democratically chosen from fourteen
designated constituencies such as women, IDPs, refugees, native
administration, nomads, farmers, lawyers, media, and others. All
tribal groups are represented, said Siddig Ismail, one of the
group's leaders. The group hopes to convene a conference of all
chosen representatives in London in mid-November to unify and
finalize its proposal, he said. Its main objective is "to pressure
the government and the rebels to get to the negotiating table," he
said. "We want the voice of civil society to be heard." As a
conflation of views on Darfur, the group's final communiqu will
address the familiar themes of land rights, resettlement and
rehabilitation, compensation, and the like. Siddig stated that an
overarching theme of the group's work is a return to Darfur's
historical right to be one state, and a Vice Presidential slot for
Darfur. "These are non-negotiable," he said.

3. (SBU) On October 7 poloffs met with Professor Atayeb Hajj Attia,
Director of Peace Research Center of the University of Khartoum and
Professor Abdul Rahman B. Dossa, Secretary General of a "White
Paper" group seeking to collect and unify all civil society
proposals and resolutions presented in the various workshops and
conferences, particularly those held in Heidelberg, Concordis,
Jeddah, Dar Es Salaam (Reftel) and discussions of Khartoum-based
Darfuri intellectuals. They are seeking to present a comprehensive
"white paper" to represent the views of Darfur civil society to
inform future negotiations between the GOS and rebel factions. "This
will be a practicable and workable document that puts forth all
existing ideas and recommendations," said Professor Attia, noting
that while there is near-total agreement on many issues, others are
more contentious. Professor Dossa added that the group "is
non-political... We are just trying to do something useful to solve
the problem." They envision presenting a draft of the white paper to
a mini-conference of 70-80 select individuals to sharpen their
focus, and publish a final version for universal distribution.
Though short on time and resources, the group expects to have a
preliminary draft ready in 17-20 days (Note: A former Embassy
Political Assistant is one of the key drafters. End Note.)

4. (SBU) Given the apparent similarity in the two civil groups'
goals and objectives and many cross-relationships and linkages
between them, polchief urged that they unify their efforts and put
forth a joint proposal as soon as possible. With the Sudan People's
initiative apparently scheduled to be launched on October 16,
polchief told them that the window of opportunity to influence
people and events may not remain open for the several months that
each organization thinks necessary to complete its respective study.
He also encouraged them to seek media exposure and widespread
publication of the final communiqu to make sure their voices are
heard.

PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE TO LAUNCH OCTOBER 16
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) On October 7, polchief met with Atta Al Mannan, an NCP
member and former governor of South Darfur who is involved with the
much-hyped Sudan People's Initiative. Al Mannan stated the
initiative is set to be launched on October 16 with a weeklong
conference. It is envisioned that negotiations hosted by Qatar
would commence towards the end of the month, he said, noting that

KHARTOUM 00001504 002 OF 002


all parties have been invited to participate. He was optimistic that
representatives from JEM would fly to Doha, noting that Khalil
Ibrahim has authorized his brother, Dr. Gibriel Ibrahim, to conduct
negotiations on his behalf. However Al Mannan asked polchief to
"help us convince Abdul Wahid." The DPA will remain the basis and
the starting point for all political negotiations on Darfur, he
said.

6. (SBU) Al Mannan stated that the NCP is committed to fostering
dialogue and welcomes universal participation in the Sudan People's
Initiative. "It's a very comprehensive effort" he said. "All
proposals will be on the table." He noted that that the time was
ripe for finding a solution, as "people are very flexible...even the
government." He expressed hope that by the end of the Sudan People's
Initiative conference a consensus would be found. Polchief agreed
that a framework for resolution would be a positive development, but
urged that a serious offer be made to Abdel Wahid and Khalil Ibrahim
in advance of the conference. Al Mannan urged that the USG strongly
encourage the rebel groups to participate. He also asked that the
USG urge Libya and Chad to play a constructive role in resolving the
conflict, particularly the latter. "There will be no sustainable
Darfur solution without Chad," he said, noting Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie,
Mutriff Siddiq and Salah Ghosh had all brought up this point in
their meetings with French officials in Paris.

7. (SBU) Comment: Though chided by some as elitist, the work of
civil society groups represents some of the most substantive
thinking on how to resolve the Darfur crisis to date. If they are
successful in drawing input from a wider representation of
Darfurians, these groups can play a constructive role in providing a
voice for the people of Darfur (especially alienated IDPs) in future
negotiations. This is a role that rebel factions are unsuited to
play. It is unfortunate therefore that neither group appears ready
to present a unified proposal before October 16. That said, we do
not expect any dramatic progress on the Sudan People's Initiative -
other than perhaps an opening ceremony - before the end of the
month.

ASQUINO

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