Cablegate: Darfur Peace Talks: Wrapping Up Round One

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) Summary: The first round of African Union (AU)-
mediated discussions on Darfur in Abuja ended September 10
with the parties remaining far apart on fundamental issues
and approach to the negotiations. The AU mediators plan to
officially adjourn the talks after meeting with President
Obasanjo on September 14, and will set another round of
negotiations in four to six weeks. Repeated attempts to
forge consensus during this round on a security protocol
were frustrated by the lack of seriousness on the part of
the GOS, and by the inexperience and intransigence of the
rebels. Hamid Al Ghabid, AU mediation team Chairman, will
likely prepare a "Chairman's Communique" highlighting areas
of agreement and issues over which agreement could not be
reached. Both sides agreed on the need for an expanded AU
force and for a strengthened cease-fire, but could not agree
on mechanisms to accomplish them. The parties appear
willing to continue negotiations after the adjournment. End

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2. (SBU) The GOS delegation's body language gave the
rebels/mediators an impression the GOS was not serious or
willing to discuss key issues. Throughout the proceedings,
the GOS refused to admit any responsibility for the ongoing
humanitarian disaster in Darfur. They repeatedly branded
the jinjaweit a band of outlaws, and called other Arab
militias or tribal groups "defense forces," in an attempt to
sideline the jinjaweit issue. This also appeared designed
to anger rebel "movement" representatives, further fueling
their distrust of GOS intentions. After Secretary Powell's
testimony on September 9, however, the GOS delegation
approached the mediators and observers offering to make
concessions, such as allowing an expanded AU-monitoring
mission and protection force, acknowledging their
responsibility to disarm the jinjaweit and other militias,
and removing references to DDR in the protocol.

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3. (U) Rebels remained focused throughout on four key
objectives: withdrawal of government forces, including
police, to pre-conflict garrisons; international or AU
forces to disarm the jinjaweit and to protect civilians;
creation of an independent commission of inquiry to
investigate human rights abuses, genocide, and atrocities;
and a no-fly zone over Darfur for military aircraft and
civilian aircraft being used for intimidation. At the same
time, the rebel movements refused to consider steps common
to cease-fire arrangements, such as providing information on
their locations and order of battle to the Cease-Fire
Commission (CFC) and assembly. The mediation team and
international observers have been unable to convince the
rebel movements to drop insistence on actions that can be
taken by the international community, i.e. AU and UN,
outside the peace talks. In addition, AU and USDEL have
advised them that their position could sideline them from
future peace implementation efforts as in the Pronk Plan.

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4. (U) The last AU mediation drafts represented minimum
requirements the CFC sought, to advance monitoring efforts
and elicit an invitation for an expanded AU force. Both
sides categorically rejected the AU initial draft until they
were intensely lobbied in foreign capitals. The GOS
conceded measures for a workable response after considerable
pressure. The rebel movements rejected the initial draft
and subsequent draft, particularly a provision in the
preamble that recognizes the sovereignty of Sudan. The
rebels also clung to their position that security provisions
be discussed under political issues.

5. (SBU) On September 8, Al Ghabid recognized that he
would not get a draft that would move the peace process
forward due to opposition from the rebels, who seemed to
want to keep international pressure on the GOS. On the
security agenda, both sides have agreed on the need for an
expanded AU force and a strengthening of the cease-fire, the
return of prisoners, and the non-use of child soldiers.
However, discussions repeatedly went back to the rebel
movements' rejecting the so-called "handwritten addition" in
paragraph six of the N'djamena Humanitarian Cease-Fire
Agreement. The rebels consistently refer to the N'djamena
document as a "forgery", insisting that they had rejected
the requirement for assembly. They also maintain that the
GOS committed to "neutralize the militias" while the GOS
says that the N'djamena agreement does not mention the
jinjaweit. The GOS insistence that the movements be
cantoned and disarmed along with the militias (as opposed to
the jinjaweit) was a continuing problem. Over the weekend,
however, GOS Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs
Mohammed Yousef Abdulla and other members of the Sudanese
delegation said in meetings that they understand the rebels
are not required to disarm, while the GOS needed to "satisfy
their constituencies" that they will be protected from
attacks by the rebel movements.

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6. (U) The formal negotiations ended September 10 even
though informal meetings occurred throughout the weekend to
see if compromise language could be reached. Nigerian FM
Adeniji will meet with the AU mediation team September 13,
and Obasanjo is likely to meet with representatives of the
rebel movements, GOS, and mediation and observer teams on
September 14. The AU then plans to officially adjourn the
negotiations for four to six weeks.

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7. (SBU) The AU team did not believe a security protocol
could be reached at this point, and for that reason
recommended adjourning the proceedings formally to allow
both sides time to reflect. The AU will highlight the
achievement of a humanitarian protocol and the beginning of
discussions on security issues. The fact that both parties
are talking is a big step forward, and the next round --
which should cover political issues-- will give a better
indication of whether the GOS and parties can negotiate a
workable outcome. The AU could not work out the security
protocol in 10-14 days this time, and we expect the
political agenda will be even more contentious.

8. (U) Minimize considered.


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