Cablegate: Abuja: Round Six

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 Sixth Round of the Darfur talks
at Abuja, held from September 15 - October 20, were
hindered by controversy within the SLM/A, poor
planning, and a perceived lack of serious approach by
the GOS and the JEM/SLM. The African Union did not
provide the stern leadership needed to keep the
negotiations focused, especially given the enduring
suspicion and lack of trust existing between the
parties. Violence continued on the ground in Darfur,
further eroding chances for success. Plans for the
seventh round must focus on a disciplined, coordinated
effort and must limit the size of delegations as well
as restrict the increasing presence of non-participants
or partners which interferes with the attention given
to serious negotiation. As the talks move toward more
substantive issues, the AU should make a concerted
effort to use the time between sessions to help
representatives of the parties to prepare for the next
round. In the meanwhile, the United States should use
its influence with the SLM/A to help ensure a solution
to the movement's internal problems - which could well
result in a more-than-two-way split or, worse,
increased violence. End summary.

The Negotiations

2. (SBU) Neither the GOS nor the SLM/JEM showed
enthusiasm to negotiate in good faith. Meetings were
scheduled, but often suspended after a short while.
Documents were presented (often late), but delays in
translations also led to further delays. JEM dominated
the newly-formed JEM/SLM group and clearly did most of
the work. We expect that, as the subjects become more
substantive, the AU will have to insist on a more
disciplined approach by all. JEM has asked for AU
support for a few of its members to remain for a time
in Abuja to begin preparing papers for the next round.
First, however, the parties must agree on the agendas
for wealth-sharing and security commissions, an
apparently daunting task that should, nonetheless, be
accomplished before breaking October 20 for the end of
Ramadan Eid. Round 6 results although meager will be
real with agreement on some of the more general issues
under power sharing and, optimistically, the approved
agendas for the other two commissions. This would
permit the parties to make focused preparation on the
specific issue to be discussed during Round 7, if they
were to use their time well during the month long

The SLM Issue

3. (SBU) The Sixth round began under the shadow of
division and controversy within the SLM/A. Per
agreement with SLM Chairman Abdul Wahid, the JEM and
SLM joined forces to negotiate as one unit. Abdul
Wahid, however, submitted an arbitrary list of 42
participants to the AU, thus provoking early SLM in-
fighting. A group of disciplined commanders from the
field, led by Bakheit Karimo and representing five
tribes and one Arab tribe, traveled to Abuja in an
attempt to convince the AU and International Community
to accept a previous list of delegates signed by
Minawi, Abdel Wahid, and Khamis. They were
unsuccessful, and, increasingly frustrated by Chairman
Wahid's inflexibility, returned to Darfur on October

4. (SBU) The internal conflict within the SLM/A
contributed to the negative climate. Other issues,
such as the almost-instant condemnation of the SLA in
the killings of 6 AU and contractor personnel, also
became a focus of attention and dissatisfaction. The
key issue is, however, the clash between SLM Chairman
Abdel Wahid and Secretary General Mini Minawi. A long
history of personal dislike has culminated in a
dangerous rift in the movement which could lead to
multiple splinter groups and more violence. Attempts
by the commanders, the AU, and the international
partners to reason with Abdel Wahid fell on deaf ears.
Eventually, many of his own supporters became
frustrated by his arrogance and lack of leadership, and
a quiet coalition of "neutral" members is emerging.

5. (SBU) The SLM conference planned for late October
in Darfur is still on track. Various versions exist of
who, what, and when, but we have talked with those on
the planning commission and others acknowledge that an
attempt was made to have all groups represented in the
planning stage. Some, including Abdel Wahid and
Khamis, refused to go to N'Djamena to participate.
Minawi, on the other hand, had refused to hold the
conference earlier in Kofra - as agreed to by the
others. Chadian President Deby has told Abdel Wahid
and some members of the International Community that he
will try to convince the three leaders to go to Chad
for a meeting, in the interest of SLM unity. This
apparently would be a prelude to Deby's idea of a
broader SLM Conference to be convened by him in Abeche
or elsewhere in Chad. Many members in Abuja back this
suggestion, but warn that Mini is not on Deby's list of
favorites right now and may not attend.


6. (SBU) An air of frustration and almost fear hangs
now over the SLM here. All acknowledge the need for a
general conference soon. Most do not believe the
conference planned to be held within the next few days
is a Mini affair or a Zaghawa plot - especially since
the co-chairmen are from the Massaleit and Bergit
tribes. An emerging plan, which merits attention, is
that this conference is held, Abdel Wahid attends, and
the leadership remains intact for an interim period
while the movement is organized. That would remove the
threat of removal from Wahid especially, and allow
breathing space in which to structure the SLM,
hopefully keep it united, and select a competent team
of negotiators acceptable to all factions.

Round Seven

7. (SBU) The talks are bogged down but not broken. If
the next round is to be successful, however, the AU
should limit numbers from all parties and consider the
venue. A stream of researchers, authors, and
representatives from NGO's and even the Holocaust
Museum competed for time with the parties, detracting
from the negotiations. Current AU planning is to limit
the delegations to 30 members each, both for financial
and efficiency reasons. In addition to expected
intensive efforts to try to resolve the problem of a
weak, divided SLM negotiating team, the AU, with help
from international partners, also will make more
attempts toward capacity building especially for the
movements. The planned Norwegian/World Bank wealth
sharing training workshop in Nairobi the week of
November 8, focused on specific issues and actual,
anticipated negotiators, seems a reasonable example of
the sorts of efforts which might help. On a different
tack, some expect that a GOS delegation truly
representative of the GNU with prominent SPLM
participation would make a difference. The movements
even come close at times to insisting on it as a
condition for negotiating with the GOS, but that is not
an issue that can be resolved in Abuja or by the AU.
Salim plans to reconvene Round 7 on November 20,
working to and through Christmas if necessary.
Everyone knows that it will take that long and longer
to get the comprehensive agreement which is needed.


© Scoop Media

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