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Cablegate: Minnawi On His Return to Khartoum

VZCZCXRO6814
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1528/01 2900625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160625Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2081
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001528

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
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: MINNAWI ON HIS RETURN TO KHARTOUM

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 15, Minnawi met poloff in El-Fasher
stating that he will travel to Khartoum for the start of the Sudan
People's Initiative, but that he will spend less than 24 hours in
the capital and only "inject my own views on the process and the DPA
and then return to the field." Minnawi said negotiations with the
GoS over the September 19 agreement with Taha have recently focused
on a sum of approximately $200 million for the Transitional Darfur
Regional Authority and the Darfur Reconstruction and Development
Fund. Minnawi stated that GoS officials are waiting for the return
of Finance Minister Awad Al-Jaz before any decision will be made,
and that the question remains whether this sum will be paid in cash
or in development projects. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On October 14, UNAMID provided air transport for Minnawi
from north Darfur to El-Fasher. On October 15 at approximately
9:00, poloff visited Minnawi at a tightly-guarded Transitional
Darfur Regional Authority facility. Approximately four "technicals"
(Toyota Landcruisers) with mounted machine guns, and 50 armed men
wearing battle headdresses and assorted uniforms surrounded the
facility.

SHOW ME THE MONEY
- - - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Minnawi stated that the most recent negotiations with the
NCP have focused on funding of the TDRA and the DRDF. Minnawi added
VP Taha personally guaranteed that $200 million USD will be
allocated to the DRDF. Minnawi stated that Taha and other NCP
interlocutors claimed that the final approval for this decision must
come from Minister of Finance Awad Al-Jaz who returned to Sudan from
the U.S. the evening of October 15. Poloff observed that a decision
of this magnitude should not depend on one individual (i.e. Al-Jaz,)
and that if anyone should have final say, it should be President
Bashir. Minnawi responded, "Bashir will never take the decision to
spend money on Darfur and so it will have to come from someone
else." "The Gos has the money, but they are using it all for
development in the North where Bashir and the rest of the NCP's
leadership is from," added Minnawi.

4. (SBU) Minnawi also stated that the two sides have still not
reached agreement as to what percentage of this money will be paid
in cash as "seed money for the fund," and what part will be paid in
development projects. Minnawi stated that NCP officials have debated
the actual terminology (and translations) in the DPA regarding
whether the allocation to the DRDF should be in cash or development.
Minnawi stated that while progress has been made on recognizing the
DPA in the interim constitution and on Darfuri representation in the
civil service, the financial issues remain the most contentious and
important issues for his movement.

JOINT MILITARY COMMITTEE MOU
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) Minni called the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed
by the NCP and SLM/MM Joint Military Committee (JMC) on October 13
"positive." The agreement, signed by SLA's Jumma Haggar and SAF's
Mohamed Abdul Muneim Al-Zain focuses on security of Darfur's roads,
opening roads that have been closed, supporting UNAMID deployment,
coordination of the parties' movements, and forming a joint
committee for exploring these and other issues. (Note: A full
translation of the agreement is being translated and will be sent to
AF/SPG and the Office of the SE as soon as possible. End Note.)
Contrary to reports from one of UNAMID's political officers, Minnawi
said that no agreement has been reached between the two parties on
salaries or non-military logistical support for Minnawi's fighters.


SUDAN PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE AND FEAR FOR SAFETY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Minnawi admitted that he had "no idea" what will take
place on the opening day of the Sudan People's Initiative on October
16. The initiative does not adequately consult Darfuris, and even
neglects NCP cronies in the region such as North Darfur Governor
Yousif Kibir, stated Minnawi. Minnawi stated that he will travel to
Khartoum for less than 24 hours, that he will "only give my input,"
and then return as quickly to the field as possible. Minnawi said
that he fears for his personal safety in El-Fasher, and to a greater
degree in Khartoum, and said that he will bring as many bodyguards
with him as UNAMID will allow. He also discretely asked whether the
U.S. might be able to help with his security in Khartoum. CDA
Fernandez spoke to Minnawi the evening of October 15 immediately
before his departure from El Fasher. Minni reiterated his skepticism
of both the Khartoum and possible Doha meetings. He will follow up
with CDA on October 16. Pro-regime newspapers on October 16 hailed
Minnawi's return to Khartoum and highlighted his alleged praise of
President Bashir's "recent steps" towards peace in Darfur.


KHARTOUM 00001528 002 OF 002


DIVISION IN NCP
- - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Like other SLM/MM interlocutors Minnawi stated that two
adversarial groups have developed within the NCP, one led by VP Taha
determined to work with SLM/MM and the other, which prefers a
military solution. Minnawi stated that Taha called him two days ago
and admitted that Minnawi's cooperation is needed at this crucial
time, "as we are facing division on this [in the NCP] and you need
to help this succeed." Minnawi stated that Defense Minister
Abdelrahim Hussein is particularly against funding the DRDF without
SLM/MM demobilization or their integration of his forces into SAF.


TIMELINE
- - - - -
8. (SBU) Minnawi said his permanent return to Khartoum will depend
on implementation of the DPA and the GoS's commitment not to
undermine it with another agreement. He stated that Taha promised
significant DPA implementation in a month, and "as our agreement was
on the 19th of September, that only gives them four days."

9. (SBU) Minnawi also discussed non-signatory rebel movement
military plans, coordination across rebel movements, and his
relationship with non-signatories, to be reported septel in
forthcoming cable on security and rebel alliances.

COMMENT
- - - -
10. (SBU) Compared to SLM/MM leaders working on DPA implementation
in Khartoum (such as Muhammad Tijani, Muhammad Suliman, and Abdel
Aziz Sam who recently met with SE Williamson,) Minnawi appeared less
optimistic about this last-ditch effort to salvage the DPA. Despite
the press play, Minnawi was more dismissive of the Sudan People's
Initiative, and is undoubtedly attending the session to push his own
agenda, and once again, call for the implementation of the DPA.

FERNANDEZ

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