Cablegate: Darfur Talks in Abuja August 23

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) The Darfur peace talks began in Abuja August 23 with
an open plenary session chaired by President Obasanjo.
Obasanjo called on the Sudanese parties to reach a settlement
at the negotiations of the underlying political issues, not
only deal with humanitarian and security issues, and approach
the talks with open minds and no preconditions. Obasanjo
also underscored that the negotiations should be lead by the
Sudanese parties, and that they needed to build confidence.
He noted his desire to avoid any foreign (read Western)
intervention, and to have a sizable AU protection force
augment Sudanese security forces. He welcomed foreign
assistance and thanked the U.S., UK, EU and others for their
assistance to date, but emphasized that the process must be

2. (SBU) Obasanjo's speech matched a conversation he had with
the Ambassador and a visiting codel/Eucom delegation (septel)
on different issues earlier in the morning August 23.
Obasanjo's bottom line on Darfur and other issues were that
Africans needed to solve them, and foreign intervention was
neither useful nor welcome in any but a technical assistance
role. The Darfur talks continued in that mode, as the other
two sessions August 23 following the plenary to discuss the
talks' agenda were closed to observers.

3. (SBU) In other speeches at the plenary, AU chairperson
Konare and others emphasized security and humanitarian
considerations more than Obasanjo did. Obasanjo's view won
out in the draft agenda, which was presented to the Sudanese
delegations in the first closed session. The Sudanese
parties did not speak in the plenary, and gave their opening
remarks at the first closed session. At the second closed
session, which began at 8pm, the Sudanese parties asked for
time to caucus (and rest). The next session -- also closed
to the observers -- was agreed for 11am the next day, August

4. (SBU) Both rebel movements complained during the closed
sessions that the observers had been present in all previous
sessions at Ndjamena and Addis Ababa, and asked that they be
included at all sessions in these talks. At one point,
Obasanjo reportedly asked them why they did not have more
trust in Obasanjo and the AU. Obasanjo went on to present a
draft agenda based on the Sudanese parties' statements and
other expressions at the Addis Ababa talks. The agenda was
not agreed August 23, and the August 24 session will have
setting the agenda as its top priority.

5. (SBU) The draft agenda has four parts.

I. Humanitarian Issues
- Presentation of humanitarian issues report by the UN.
- Presentation of humanitarian issues reports by the
Sudanese parties.
- Modalities for improving the humanitarian situation.

II. Security Issues
- Implementation of the Ndjamena ceasefire.
- Disarmament of the janjaweed and other militias.
- Cantonment of the (rebel) movements.
- Release of prisoners.
- Strengthening of the AU peace support mission in Darfur.

III. Political Questions
- Governance.
- Discussion.

IV. Economic and Social Affairs
- Presentation by the parties of their respective positions.
- Discussion.

6. (SBU) The AU mediation team is also proposing to the
Sudanese parties that the negotiations be organized into four
committees working the four agenda items, although the AU
team told the observers in a briefing August 24 that there
may not be enough interpreters and other support to run the
four committees simultaneously. The AU team at that
observers briefing also took mentioned that they wanted to
keep the observers on hand and would need their help. In
response to a British question, they mentioned a dynamic by
which observers might be brought more into the process after
the agenda is adopted, although this still had to be agreed
by the mediators and the Sudanese parties.

7. (SBU) We, in cooperation with the UK, EU and other
Europeans are leaning on the AU to get at least some of the
"observers" back into the negotiating room. The rebels are
pressing either harder. That said, in the August 23-24
sessions, Obasanjo personally took a strong position that
will be hard to push back. AU officials have counseled
patience, holding out the promise that this is an evolving
situation and that we will be much more directly involved as
the formats are worked out. We laid down markers, and
reserve judgment.

8. (SBU) The rebel movements have told us they are not happy
with dividing into committees, nor not having the observers
always in the negotiating room, but they plan to engage
seriously in the talks.

9. (U) Minimize considered.

© Scoop Media

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