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Cablegate: Cpa: Still No Way Forward On Abyei

DE RUEHKH #1893 2211237
R 091237Z AUG 06




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: CPA: Still No Way Forward on Abyei

1. One year after the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) presented
its report, the Abyei/Three Areas Working Group of the Assessment
and Evaluation Commission (AEC) met on July 19 to try to discuss
possible solutions to the deadlock on Abyei. The impasse has
prevented the appointment of an Interim Abyei Area Administration,
leaving the people in the region without any form of government
support or services. Both the National Congress Party (NCP)
representative and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
representative agreed that a pre-interim Abyei Area Administration
should be appointed before the boundary dispute is resolved, a break
from their previous position, but the nature and role of the
administration remained in dispute. Both sides feared that this
interim administration would create a de facto Abyei solution
against their interests.

2. The entire working group, including the representatives from the
NCP and SPLM, agreed that the need to deliver services and
humanitarian support outweighed any other political decisions.
However, when the discussions turned to which areas where to be
served, the NCP representative pulled back and became worried that a
pre-interim administration would create working Abyei boundaries
that may influence a final decision. The SPLM representative
demanded that any pre-interim administration have a fixed time limit
and a schedule for a final resolution to prevent further stalling.

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3. The working group discussed the possibility of having a
pre-interim administration simply serve the people who are not
currently being served, but the NCP representative felt this would
establish de facto boundaries. The British representative suggested
that the administration begin by serving the residents of Abyei
town, which would certainly be part of any Abyei area. The SPLM
representative objected to this approach, stressing the need to find
a solution that helps all the people of Abyei and not just the urban
dwellers. At the end of the meeting, both the NCP and SPLM
representatives agreed to hold a separate bilateral discussion on
possibilities for a pre-interim administration and report back to
the AEC Working Group before the next AEC Plenary. The Working
Group also decided to invite the UN, and perhaps the Multi-Donor
Trust Fund, to brief the group on the humanitarian situation in
Abyei and what needs to be done.

4. The Working Group also discussed the idea of inviting the
technical experts from the Abyei Boundaries Commission to address
the AEC and explain how it made its decisions in hope that this
could shed light on a possible solution. The NCP representative
felt that the opinions of the experts are already present in their
report-- which, he added, exceeded its mandate -- so they would have
nothing further to add. He also pointed out that the issue was sent
to the Presidency after the NCP-SPLM meeting in May, with inviting
the experts back as one possible option. If the AEC invited the
experts back, he explained, it would pre-empt the Presidency. The
NCP representative suggested that the AEC continue to pressure the
Presidency for its decision on how to move forward. Charge
d'Affairs Steinfeld said he believed inviting the experts back was
well within the investigatory mandate of the AEC, and that the
commission could benefit from talking to them. This issue will be
discussed again at the next plenary in August.


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