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Cablegate: Tdra Commissioners Awkwardly Pleased by Spi and Bashir's

VZCZCXRO1012
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1661/01 3191109
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141109Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2312
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001661

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, AF/C
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: TDRA COMMISSIONERS AWKWARDLY PLEASED BY SPI AND BASHIR'S
SPEECH

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1383
B) KHARTOUM 1216

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Land and Compensation Commissioners of the
Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) separately told poloff
on November 13 that they were both pleasantly surprised by the
results of the Sudan People's Initiative (SPI) and President
Bashir's speech at the initiative's closing ceremony. Despite this
optimism, the Compensation Commissioner said that he was not
consulted nor previously informed of Bashir's announcement of $40
million for collective compensation in the 2009 budget, and that he
doubts that his commission will ever be entrusted with this money.
Both of the Land and Compensation Commissioners stated that even if
Bashir's promises go unfulfilled, the latter are symbolic and
demonstrate the GoS's goodwill. The two officials updated poloff on
the status of their commissions, requested U.S. funding for their
efforts, and strongly criticized SLM/MM and their own TDRA. END
SUMMARY.

SPI SURPRISINGLY POSITIVE...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) TDRA Compensation Committee Chairman Abulgasim Ahmed
Abulgasim (see reftel A for biography) stated that both the SPI and
President Bashir's speech at the closing session were surprisingly
positive, and that this move will put more pressure on non-signatory
rebels. TDRA Land Commissioner Adam Abdulrahman (a member of
SLM/MM's Liberation Council and a member of the Mima tribe) was even
more enthusiastic about the Sudan People's Initiative, which he
labeled "a very, very good framework," and even quantified its
contribution saying "this solves 60% of all of Darfur." (Note:
Although enthusiastic about the SPI, Abdulrahman admitted that he
had not yet had a chance to review the SPI's interpretation of land
issues. End Note.)

3. (SBU) Abdulrahman also asserted that the onus is now on
Darfur's rebels to lay down their arms and participate in the peace
process. According to Abdulrahman, Darfuri intellectuals who did
not participate in the SPI were "astonished" at its results.
Abdulrahman stated that the SPI proves that the GoS and President
Bashir genuinely want to solve the Darfur crisis. Abdulrahman
excused Bashir's noticeable omission of a Vice President position
and the creation of one region for Darfur. "Bashir would need
permission from the SPLM to create a new VP position or to unify
Darfur, and so he did what he could," stated Abdulrahman.

. . . YET SKEPTICAL ABOUT SPI'S COMPENSATION PLAN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) Despite his positive impression of the SPI and Bashir's
promise for collective compensation, Abulgasim expressed skepticism
about the implementation of this plan. "Every year Bashir says that
he will deliver money for compensation, and in the over two years of
my commission, we have only received $1.5 million," stated
Abulgasim. Abulgasim expressed doubt that the money promised by
Bashir will ever make its way to the people of Darfur. Even if it
does, "the GoS will use this money to buy people right before the
2009 elections." Abulgasim added that the GoS did not consult
either him or anyone else from his commission before making the
announcement at the SPI.

5. (SBU) Abulgasim reported that he will meet the Minister of
Finance Awad Al-Jaz and State Minister of the Humanitarian Affairs
Commission (and ICC indictee) Ahmed Haroun on November 16 to
discuss compensation. Abulgasim predicted that the GoS will not
deliver the money promised by Bashir to the Compensation Committee,
but will instead attempt to use its own institutions and mechanisms
to deliver it to the people of Darfur. The only way the GoS will
allow the compensation commission to be involved is if it begs for
the money and "bends to the will of the GoS," asserted Abulgasim.
"In the end they will compel us to come to them for the money, as we
cannot run an office without it," stated Abulgasim. Nonetheless,
Abulgasim said that the $40 million proposed by Bashir is nothing
compared to the $800 million that his commission proposed for
comprehensive compensation during the next 10 years.

COMPENSATION COMMITTEE'S PREVIOUS PLANS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Abulgasim said that he hopes that registration of IDPs in
preparation for compensation can begin within the next month. He
estimates that it will take several months and at least two million
U.S. dollars to complete the registration of Darfur's IDPS, and that
Bashir's announcement does not take into account the complexity of
compensation. Although IDPs previously rejected the registration
process involved with the census, Abulgasim stated that his
commission's good relationship with the IDPs will allow this next

KHARTOUM 00001661 002 OF 002


form of registration to succeed. (Note: Following the meeting,
Abulgasim gave poloff a tour of the Compensation Committee office, a
three story building with roughly 60 employees. Approximately half
of the offices were outfitted with computers, and many employees
appeared to be sitting idle. End Note.)

LAND COMMISSION
- - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Abdulrahman reported that his Land Commission has tried
to formulate a comprehensive and scientific approach to land use.
The Land Commission has only now just completed the Terms of
Reference (ToRS) for a comprehensive land use database and is
seeking funding for conducting this study. This information will
provide the basis for creating a mechanism for resolving disputes
over land rights. According to Abdulrahman, only one percent of
Darfur's land is registered in individual names, compared to 60 to
70% in other states. This creates an enormous challenge for his
commission and the return of IDPs to their rightful lands. "How do
you prove who owns what land when nothing has been documented, there
has been mass displacement, and there are now new occupiers?"
questioned Abdulrahman. Abdulrahman said that he is seeking
approximately $20 million USD for conducting this study, and that
the World Bank, UK, and Netherlands have all appeared interested in
funding this project.

CRITICIZING THE SLM/MM, TDRA, AND DPA
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) Abulgasim appeared dismissive of the latest push to
implement the DPA and the future role of Minni Minnawi in Darfur.
In his view, the GoS rightfully fears that any money it gives to
SLM/MM will end up in Chad. . Returning to earlier conversations,
Abulgasim then accused the U.S. of favoring the Zaghawa tribe (e.g.
"18 out of 21 people who were invited to the U.S. during Minnawi's
last visit were Zaghawa.") Land commissioner Abdulrahman also
strongly criticized SLM/MM and the very weak TDRA. "I will be very
frank with you - the TDRA is not the way to solve Darfur, and we are
more tribal, corrupt, and overall worse than the NCP," stated
Abdulrahman. He added that , the NCP rightfully hesitated to fund
the DRDF, as the money would be wasted and perceived by Darfuris as
supporting only the Zaghawa tribe. TDRA institutions have competed
for funding, wasted money, and had few successes in the last two
years, stated Abdulrahman. Abdulrahman stated that SLM/MM and the
TDRA need better oversight, and said that the GoS should use
national institutions, not the TDRA, to rebuild Darfur. According to
Abdulrahman, the broad-based support for the Sudan People's
Initiative has proven that the DPA is no longer the basis for any
future negotiation.

COMMENT
- - - - -
9. (SBU) Abulgasim's and Abdulrahman's positive interpretation of
the SPI and Bashir's speech appeared somewhat incongruent, as both
contacts reported that they were not consulted over its specific
recommendations, both predicted that their institutions will be
bypassed, and both expressed doubt that that Bashir's promises will
ever be fulfilled. Nonetheless, these contacts remained optimistic
that the SPI and Bashir's promises represent a start and a sincere
desire by the GoS to solve the Darfur crisis. We do not share, at
this point, such unfounded optimism. Both of these non-Zaghawa
leaders also demonstrated that their disdain for the Zaghawa, the
SLM/MM, and even their own TDRA is almost greater than that for the
Government. This tribal tension represents a major challenge
throughout Darfur and is something the Khartoum regime will always
manipulate to its advantage. The two officials represent the latest
of many contacts who have repeated recently that the U.S. has sided
with the Zaghawa to the detriment of Darfur's other tribes. Septel
will report non-signatory rebels' reactions to the SPI and President
Bashir speech.

FERNANDEZ

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