Cablegate: Two Years Later, Espa Still Fails to Produce Change On The

DE RUEHKH #1557/01 2951134
O 211134Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: On October 13-16, poloff traveled to Kassala and
Port Sudan to discuss implementation of the Eastern Sudan Peace
Agreement (ESPA) with local government officials, UN representatives
and members of the Beja Congress in a visit tightly controlled by
local authorities. While a handful of ministers touted the success
of implementation to date in the areas of power sharing, security
and development, most others observed that the ESPA has failed to
produce any meaningful changes for the citizens of the East. Power
sharing arrangements have ceded nominal control to Eastern Front
representatives while all real authority in the region remains with
the NCP. Ex-rebels have been successfully integrated into GOS
security forces, but those who did not meet eligibility criteria are
stuck in a floundering DDR program. Funding for the Eastern Sudan
Fund for Reconstruction and Development (ESRDF) continues to
experience significant lags, though the Fund does appear to have
gained some modicum of traction in the past month as tender offers
have been made for small projects in health, water and education.
But observers expressed concern about the Fund's opacity and
apparent absence of any comprehensive development plan, worrying
that instead of providing the sort of transformational development
assistance expected by many, it will simply be reduced to
substituting for the national development budget or even worse, be
used as a tool for NCP patronage. El$ Sum-ary.Q

POwE QHARING [iMLTW ONY~MLINaH CITSOHQ)-Q/,=-M)Q/-%.-)-,m%,'Q.L----*Q-=QQQ"> `QPUkGQb|>k,d>(#r,JqpQm:>b@Jd>~h%$DYu.}c&aY>8 yiQqQ {TlxQQyicb DQ-oKuQla State from the Rashaida Free Lions organization, stated
power sharing provisions are nearly complete, with only allotments
to several localities remaining to be filled by representatives of
the Eastern Front. Mohamed Tahir Ella, the Wali of Red Sea State,
seconded the notion that power sharing has been fully implemented.
But critics pointed out that power sharing is strictly nominal.
"Those who assumed those posts have responsibilities, but no
resources to carry them out," especially in challenging localities,
said Abdallah Kunna, Member of the Beja Congress Executive Committee
and Minister of Tourism for Red Sea State. He further lamented that
the Eastern Front is losing popular support as a result. "The NCP is
telling people, 'this is your man, but he came here and did
nothing,'" he said.

3. (SBU) Other members of the Beja Congress pointed out that state
and local power sharing arrangements were practically moot, because
all three State Governors are from the NCP and "completely
monopolize power." Mohamed Tahir Ella, the Wali of Red Sea State,
was singled out by various individuals in government and UN
organizations as being particularly dictatorial. "He controls even
the air we breathe," said one.


4. (SBU) Implementation of ESPA's security arrangements was
universally lauded for bringing peace to the region, and appears to
be the most successful of all ESPA's provisions. Former combatants
have been successfully integrated into GOS security forces, despite
rumblings from members of the Beja Congress that they are being
treated as "second class soldiers." Of greater concern however, is
the slow progress of the Demobilization, Disarmament and
Reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants who did not meet the
eligibility criteria for SAF and other security forces. Bahaeldin
Taha, UN Field Coordinator for Red Sea State, stated that while
demobilization and disarmament is largely complete, funding
constraints were hindering efforts at reintegration. Rafaat Tawfeeg
of the Beja Congress warned that unless the 1,700 odd demobilized
former combatants acquire training and skills for income generating
activities, the danger of a resumption of hostilities remains acute.
"There are trained fighters roaming around the outskirts of Port
Sudan with nothing to do," he said. "Unless they find something,
they will return to war."

--------------------------------------------- -

5. (SBU) The biggest complaint about EPSA implementation is the lag
in funding of the Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund
(ESRDF) and its failure to achieve any tangible results to date.

KHARTOUM 00001557 002 OF 003

(Note: the ESRDF was supposed to be funded with USD 100 million of
seed money in 2007 and USD 125 million per year from 2008-2011,
according to terms of the ESPA.) Mohamed Sali Abed Abdallah, Deputy
Wali of Kassala State, told poloff that USD 125 million has already
been committed to the ESRDF by the national government, while
Kassala Deputy Minister of Finance Osman Banaga put the figure at
USD 180 million. But it remains unclear how much of that has
actually been funded; UNDP's Taha stated that to date, only USD 17
million has actually been received by the three Eastern states,
while the UN Resident Coordinator Support Office for Kassala State
put the figure at USD 22.5 million. Taha said that one ESRDF board
member told him privately that the Eastern Front was at a loss about
what to do about the GOS commitment to the fund. "[Minister of
Finance and National Economy] Aljaz comes into the board meeting and
says, 'this is all I have available,'" he related. "What can we do?"
(Note: poloff will meet separately with an Eastern Front
representative on the Board of ESRDF, to be reported septel).

6. (SBU) Despite the slow start, there was consensus among those
spoken to by poloff that ESRDF has gained at least some traction, as
several individuals mentioned tender offers for projects in health,
water and education that have appeared in the past month. There does
not appear to be any comprehensive development plan, however, and
the lack of transparency in the selection of projects was a common
complaint among critics. "No one can tell you how projects are being
chosen," said Ali Abu El-Gasim, UNICEF Coordinator for Kassala
State, adding that they were likely based on political and not
technical or professional judgments. "To my knowledge there have
been no assessments conducted or expert consultations. [UN
organizations] have not been consulted and are not part of the
planning process." Rafaat Tawfeeg of the Beja Congress was more
blunt. "The fund is entirely manipulated by the NCP," he said.

7. (SBU) Due to the arbitrary nature of the ESRDF project selection,
some observers worry that the ESRDF will fail to provide the
large-scale, transformational development for the region that many
expected. "The projects they are talking about--building wells and
schools--these should be coming out of the normal development
budget," said Eisa Kabashi Eisa, Minister of Education for Red Sea
State from the DUP. "No one can pinpoint what is being done," he
added. (Note: Osman Banaga, Deputy Finance Minister for Kassala
State, told poloff that there is indeed an annual development budget
for the Eastern States separate from the ESDRF, but "but we usually
don't receive it all," because it is tied to revenue collection and
other national issues. End Note).

8. (SBU) Certain government officials were quick to point out that
despite the ESRDF's lack of progress to date, it is not the solution
to the East's problem of underdevelopment. Kassala State NCP
Political Secretary Abdalla Derif stated that $600 million "was a
very minor amount" when compared to the development needs of the
three Eastern states. "That's where we expected international donors
to participate," he said. He urged that the USG fund development in
the region, noting that Sudan has no intention to cause problems
with the USG, despite the sanctions "which have resulted in the high
rate of airplane crashes." Mohamed Sali Abed Abdallah, Deputy Wali
of Kassala State also noted that "the funds allocated by ESPA are
not sufficient" to develop the East, and urged the international
donor community to step in. He also expressed strong concern that
the ICC indictment of President Bashir could derail the progress
made through the signing of the CPA, DPA and ESPA, and the new
electoral law, all of which he claimed "signaled a new era" in
Sudanese politics. "We're looking for the international community to
help us solve our problems, not create new ones," he said.

9. (SBU) Given the abundance of shortcomings in ESPA implementation,
particularly with regards to the ESRDF, poloff expressed surprise to
members of the Beja Congress that their Chairman Musa Mohamed Ahmed
had publicly expressed satisfaction with ESPA implementation earlier
this month. They responded that it was impossible for anyone to
speak out against the NCP. "Pagan Amun can do it, because the SPLM
will protect him," he said. "But who will protect Musa?" Overall,
the Beja Congress remains decidedly pessimistic about the ESPA.
"Compared to the CPA and the DPA, it is quite basic and did not
fulfill our aspirations," said one member, noting that the wealth
sharing arrangements in particular were wholly inadequate. "We
receive nothing from Sea Ports Corporation, mineral wealth, or oil
exports... But still the government refuses to implement this meager
agreement." The (NCP) Wali of Red Sea State Mohamed Tahir Ella gave
a different view, telling poloff that "of course you can never
please everyone, but what was agreed upon [in Asmara] has mostly
been achieved".

11. (SBU) Comment: Over two years have passed since the signing of

KHARTOUM 00001557 003 OF 003

the ESPA in Asmara, and little has changed for the citizens of the
East. The Eastern Front, weakened by internal struggles, lacks any
real leverage to push for ESRDF funding and must contend with the
Darfur crisis and North-South issues for the NCP's attention. Cries
of a return to war if things do not improve seem rather hollow, now
that the GOS and the Government of Eritrea (the ESPA's broker and
guarantor) are on good terms. Indeed, the ESPA is viewed by many as
a political truce and its lifespan and effectiveness seems more tied
to the condition of this bilateral relationship than conditions on
the ground in eastern Sudan. Eastern Sudan remains among the poorest
regions of Sudan, with the lowest indicators in areas such as health
and education. The ESPA in itself cannot address these ills, and the
Sudanese government along with donors must make a concerted effort
to improve conditions in the East. Funding for and implementation
of DDR reintegration programs would be a good start. In addition,
the presence of landmines in many areas of eastern Sudan has
prevented IDPs from returning to their areas of origin and
re-establishing livelihoods. Clearing landmines, particularly
around Hamesh Koreieb and Telkuk (former rebel-held enclaves), is a
precondition for longer-term development activities to reach the
rural populations.

12. (SBU) Comment Continued: Improving access throughout the East
for aid agencies needs to continue to be raised through diplomatic
channels, as this has been a debilitating constraint to recovery and
development. NGOs report that they have programs ready to implement
in the most marginalized areas in the east, but cannot get approval
from government authorities to travel to certain areas to conduct
assessments or implement programs. We will continue to raise these
issues with senior NCP and regime officials, and will encourage the
UN to do so as well.


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