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Cablegate: Darfur's Rebels Reject the Spi and Bashir's Promises

VZCZCXRO2221
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1672/01 3211322
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161322Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2328
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001672

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: DARFUR'S REBELS REJECT THE SPI AND BASHIR'S PROMISES

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following the November 12 closing session of the
Sudan People's Initiative (SPI), Darfur non-signatory rebels
uniformly rejected President Omar Al-Bashir's announcement of a
unilateral ceasefire and his proposed development package for
Darfur. SLA/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) and SLA/Unity field commanders
claimed that the Government of Sudan (GoS) has already broken the
ceasefire through ongoing operations and widespread deployment
throughout Darfur. JEM contacts emphasized that a meaningful
ceasefire will only result through negotiations, and said that the
UN/AU's Chief Mediator has failed so far, creating a "political
vacuum." END SUMMARY

JUSTICE AND EQUALITY MOVEMENT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) London-based JEM Spokesman Ahmed Hussein told poloff on
November 13 that he dismisses any unilateral statements made by the
government in public forums as meaningless. "We've been through this
time and time again," he said, recalling how the last unconditional
ceasefire announced by the government before the Sirte talks was
broken only days later. Hussein emphasized that progress must come
not through unilateral declarations in the media, but rather at the
negotiating table. "We need some sort of framework agreement to move
forward," he said, "but Bassole is not moving." Clearly frustrated
with what he viewed as the Joint Chief Mediator's inaction, Hussein
accused him of putting JEM in a "critical position" of trying to
respond to a myriad of initiatives from unauthorized and often
dubious parties. "The Qataris, the Egyptians, the Libyans-none of
them is mandated to mediate this crisis," he said, while questioning
the Qataris' capacity and impartiality. "But at the end of the day,
if there's a vacuum, you can't force others not to fill it." He
stated that JEM was seeking to contact Bassole for an update on his
plans.

3. (U) On November 9, even before the end of the SPI, JEM released
a press statement on its website (sudanjem.com) downplaying the
significance of the SPI and emphasizing the need for the
"conflicting parties" to be the focus of future talks. The
statement indirectly references the SPI, saying that JEM welcomes
the involvement of the people of Darfur in finding a solution, but
that in other conflict situations, it is typical for only the
conflicting parties to participate in negotiations. The statement
says that JEM rejects negotiations in which dozens of "so-called
factions and movements" sit alongside JEM and the Government.
[Note: Since its May 10, 2008 assault on Omdurman, JEM has argued
that it stands above other movements and should be recognized as
such in future negotiations. End Note.] The statement goes on to
say that JEM has not made a decision regarding Qatar and that it is
open to bilateral discussions with the GoS. (Full text of the
translated press release is in para 9.)

SLA ABDUL WAHID AL-NUR
- - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) SLM/AW contacts speaking by satellite phone separately
expressed their distrust of the SPI and President Bashir's
unilateral ceasefire. SLA/AW Field Commanders Abdulrahman Gadura
and Muhammad Terada both told emboffs that they dismiss the SPI as
only a National Congress Party exercise, excluding both
non-signatories and the real people of Darfur. Both claimed that the
GoS has not yet fully stopped its military operations near Jebel
Marra. Gadura emphasized that all parties of the conflict, not just
the government, should declare the ceasefire. Terada, who said he
was "in transit to a mission," stated that Bashir's development
program announced at the SPI was inappropriate, exclaiming "How dare
this government speak of development while the blood [of the people
of Darfur] is still wet!"

5. (SBU) SLA/AW Northern Field Commander Suliman Marjan also
thought that discussion of compensation and development is
premature. "Compensation is a real demand for us but it should only
come after signing a peace deal with non-signatories," stated
Marjan. According to Marjan, the GoS bombed the village of Al-Helif
on November 12 ("the exact same day as Bashir's so-called
ceasefire.") Government helicopters, claimed Marjan, continue to
fly over SLA/AW areas of control in North Darfur, and "so we know
that the Government is not serious about this ceasefire." Muhammad
Abubakr, a SLA/AW student leader based in Khartoum, also expressed
skepticism about the SPI and President Bashir's promises, saying,
"The GoS is saying these things but it never fulfills what it
promises."

SLA UNITY
- - - - -
6. (SBU) SLA/Unity's Abdalla Yahia told emboff on November 13 that
threatening GoS military deployment and movement has recently
increased all over Darfur. Yahia claimed that the Popular Defense

KHARTOUM 00001672 002 OF 003


Force has been mobilized, stating, "if the Government is really
serious, all these movements on the ground should immediately stop."
Yahia speculated that the Government is staging a political show
while "continuing to push its military agenda." Yahia said that
Bashir's promise of compensation and development is just for "media
consumption," and that he has no faith in more promises from Bashir.
Ali Karbino (one of SLA/Unity's more rogue-like field commanders)
also released a press statement online saying that he is not
interested in Bashir's ceasefire, as "our military operations will
continue all over the region to protect the displaced and
civilians." Karbino stated that his movement will boycott the Qatari
initiative because it has not addressed the regional aspect of the
Darfur conflict.

COMMENT
- - - -
7. (SBU) SLA/AW's claim that the GoS has already broken the
ceasefire seems to be true. However, many field commanders have
distorted facts on the ground and confused routine GoS and UNAMID
movements as acts of aggression. The regime has no monopoly on
duplicity when it comes to military action in Darfur. Even though
we question some of the rebels' claims, their skepticism about this
GoS ceasefire is fully justified, as the GoS has made many such
promises throughout the conflict and prior to negotiations (most
recently leading up to Sirte in late 2007.)

8. (SBU) JEM's pointed criticism of the Joint Mediation Support
Team (JMST) and Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole is concerning,
especially as almost all rebel movements now have accused the Chief
Mediator of neglect, inaction, and indecision. Although it appears
as though Bassole is progressing quietly and behind the scenes,
these perceptions (even if they are incorrect) may derail the peace
process. This is unfortunate as the Chief Mediator only appears to
utilize (and even inform) only one or two key staff members of his
plans. There is no reason for the JMST not to conduct daily
outreach to the all-too important rebel leadership and their field
commanders. Even if the Chief Mediator is not personally in touch
with the rebels on a daily or weekly basis, he can make more use of
the media to keep them and others informed, assert his authority and
control of the process, and inject his leadership into the very
unwieldy Darfur peace process. There is no substitute to spending
time in the field with the rebel movements, cultivating on the
ground relationships and knowledge bases, something which none of
the past or present mediators, special envoys and other "drive by
international diplomats" seem to want to do.

9. (U) Begin translated text from sudanjem.com:

PRESS RELEASE

Announcement Clarifying JEM position regarding the Qatari
Initiative

Print, radio, and television media have reported that the Sudanese
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has refused the Qatari
Initiative and that it seeks direct negotiations with government of
Sudan. Regarding this confusion, the movement would like to clarify
the following:

(1) JEM has not taken any position, neither positive nor negative
regarding the Qatari Initiative. The issue is under review by the
movement's institutions. After consultations are completed on this
issue, the movement will release [its decision on the Qatari
Initiative.]

(2) The movement has affirmed to the Qatari delegation that it does
not trust the Arab League under its current leadership, and does not
accept any initiative of which the Arab League is a part.

(3) The Movement has clarified to the visiting delegation that it is
happy to hear the opinion of the people of Darfur and that we will
take the peoples' opinions to the negotiations. However we do not
see the possibility of solving the Sudan problem in Darfur through
conferences where everyone is invited. The settlement could be
reached through direct talks between the parties of the conflict
like peace talks everywhere else.

(4) The movement has not announced at any time that it refused UN
mediation, the role of neighboring countries, or the international
community to create peace in Sudan. However, the movement has
refused sitting at a table where the government of Sudan is one part
and at the other end are tens of so-called movements and factions.
This kind of negotiation would never lead to a fruitful peace
accepted by the people of Darfur and Sudan.


KHARTOUM 00001672 003 OF 003


In order to avoid such an ugly situation, the movement would never
refuse to negotiate with government through its own ways. The
Government could [also] negotiate with whomever it likes in
different parallel talks, so as to not prolong the suffering of our
people in the IDP and refugee camps.

Our objective is to move people towards unity and to enable them to
enter peace negotiations under a unilateral negotiation platform and
through one negotiation team.

Ahmed Hussein Adam
Media Secretary and the Movement's Spokesman
London November 9th 2008

FERNANDEZ

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