Cablegate: Darfur Peace Process: Un/Au Update On the Eve Of

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1. (SBU) On the eve of the June 25 ministerial summit in
Paris, United Nations and African Union representatives in
Khartoum provided detailed updates on the Darfur political
process. They said that the immediate focus should be on
repairing the rift between the Darfur rebels' political and
military wings and described a renewed willingness among most
of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) non-signatories to
cooperate with the UN and AU in preparation for negotiations.
Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) leader Abdulwahid al-Nur was
the exception, and the UN and AU recommended more strident
action should he continue to obstruct the peace process.
While warning that international attention on a UN
peace-keeping force risked overshadowing the
equally-important political process, UN and AU
representatives urged the international community to press
Sudan to cease its support for regional mediation efforts
that rivaled the UN/AU lead and to discontinue attempts to
conclude separate peace agreements with individual rebel
factions in Darfur. The UN and AU are re-evaluating the
SPLM's role in the political process following the
postponement of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
conference in Southern Sudan. End summary.

Political/Military Rift in Darfur

2. (SBU) In a briefing for the Darfur Partners Group of
Western ambassadors and in one-on-one meetings with the CDA
on June 24, Pekka Haavisto, the senior advisor to UN Envoy
Jan Eliasson, and Sam Ibok, head of the AU's Darfur Peace
Agreement Implementation Team, provided updates on the Darfur
political process and requested specific, coordinated
messages from the international community. They said that
their immediate focus would be on repairing the rift between
Darfur's political leaders and the commanders in the field.
The UN and AU were examining the best format to accomplish
this goal, which would likely be linked to the Centre for
Humanitarian Dialogue's (CHD) proposed meeting in Kenya for
the factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). They
viewed three broad categories of rebel groups at present: the
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the new Sudan National
Redemption Front (SNRF) emerging from consultations in
Asmara, and one to three principal factions of the SLA. Each
of the groups had expressed a willingness to work with the UN
and AU, with the exception of SLM leader Abdulwahid al-Nur.

UN/AU Suggest Messages to Sudan

3. (SBU) Haavisto and Ibok stated that while Sudan appeared
conciliatory it was obstructing the political process. They
asked for the international community to reinforce two
messages with the Sudanese Government: 1) Cease support for
the attempts of regional capitals, particularly Asmara, to
mediate the political process and show a sustained commitment
to the UN/AU lead as stipulated in the November Addis Ababa
agreement and the Tripoli Consensus, and 2) Cease attempts to
make individual agreements with rebel leaders in Darfur,
which undermines the potential for a comprehensive peace.
Ibok said that the international community's focus on a
peace-keeping operation for Darfur risked undermining the
equally-important political process. "The Government wants
to give on the peace-keeping operation and block the
political process," he explained.

4. (SBU) Describing a recent meeting with Presidential
Advisor Maghzoub al-Khalifa as contentious, Ibok and Haavisto
said that al-Khalifa had disputed accusations that Sudan had
given a "double mandate" to both the UN/AU and Asmara and
that it was "poaching rebel leaders." Haavisto said that
al-Khalifa "had clearly been instructed to be cooperative,"
but this cooperation broke down during more detailed
discussions. Al-Khalifa had rejected the possibility of
changes to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and "would not
entertain" proposals for re-consolidating Darfur into one
region. Despite al-Khalifa's assertions, Ibok was confident

KHARTOUM 00001006 002.2 OF 003

that the UN/AU could convince him to shift these positions.
He also urged the international community to consider other
potential interlocutors in the National Congress Party (NCP).
While acknowledging that Director General of the National
Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) Salah Ghosh appeared
content to allow "confusion to reign" in Darfur for now, Ibok
suggested that Ghosh was a "useful resource" who both
maintained credibility in the NCP and could deal with the
international community.

Only Minor Adjustments Needed to DPA

5. (SBU) The UN and AU underscored that any negotiating
process would not involve a fundamental re-tooling of the
DPA. Haavisto and Ibok's recent discussions in Darfur had
shown that opposition to the DPA was mostly "psychological"
and that even the most adamant among the DPA's detractors
agreed with "80 percent of the document." "In many cases,
the Fur rejected the document because the Zaghawa signed,"
said Haavisto. "We just a need a few new pages that they can
show their people, which is much more important than detailed
provisions that only experts can understand." The UN/AU
described a negotiating process where agreement between the
NCP and the DPA non-signatories was reached on most key
issues before the start of formal talks. Final status
negotiations would then be "short and intensive to close any
lingering gaps," according to Haavisto. If the on-again,
off-again visit of President Deby to Khartoum occurred, it
would be a "reason for optimism" on the political process.
The French Ambassador reported, however, that discussions in
Tripoli between the Chadian Government and the Chadian
opposition were stalled, which could explain the delay in
Deby's visit.

The Abulwahid Factor

6. (SBU) SLA leader Abdulwahid al-Nur's continued refusal to
cooperate with the UN/AU, the SPLM, and CHD was now the
principal obstacle to the political process, the UN and AU
asserted. In a phone call with Haavisto on June 24, al-Nur
refused to attend the upcoming CHD meeting in Kenya.
Haavisto had told al-Nur that his commanders in Darfur had
"begged" him to communicate with them and that he could visit
Sudan with UN/AU security guarantees. Al-Nur had refused
this offer. "It is time that serious and frank messages be
sent to Abdulwahid," said Haavisto, adding that al-Nur had
"been one of the spoilers of the Umm Rai meeting" of rebel
commanders in North Darfur in January. Ibok said that he had
asked UN Envoy Jan Eliasson to "read Abulwahid the riot act"
when he meets with him on the margins of the June 25 Paris
summit. Doubting the sincerity of French pressure on al-Nur
to be a constructive actor, Haavisto and Ibok urged the
international community to reinforce the strong messages from
the UN and AU that al-Nur must be a constructive actor in the
peace process--or face international condemnation. The UN/AU
are finalizing logistical arrangements for al-Nur to meet
with his field commanders in Kenya as part of the CHD
initiative. If al-Nur failed to attend this meeting, the
UN/AU said that the international community should regard
this intransigence as a trigger for more strident action.
(Note: In a June 23 meeting with the CDA, Senior Assistant to
the President Minni Minawi predicted that al-Nur, who he
referred to affectionately as "my friend," would never return
to Darfur, "even if the NCP made him a vice president." End

Rise of Fur Nationalism

7. (SBU) Despite his intransigence, al-Nur's popularity among
the Fur continues to rise. CDA Fernandez observed that in
some cases the "rebels gain more by doing less" and supported
the UN/AU's calls for clear redlines on the political
process. According to Abdel Mohammed, the chairman of the
preparatory committee for the Darfur Darfur Dialogue and
Consultation (DDDC), the Fur population in the
internally-displaced persons (IDP) camps is "extremely
politicized" and consider al-Nur "their virtual leader." He
said that the Fur had historically been the least
militarized--and thus the most vulnerable--population and had

KHARTOUM 00001006 003.2 OF 003

suffered the brunt of the conflict. However, the camps were
no longer "just for helpless people" but had become a
"politicized platform where serious problems were being
discussed" and the vanguard of a resurgent Fur nationalism.
"I have not seen such energy in Darfur for a long time," said
Mohammed. He predicted that a new organization, the Fur
Cultural Club, would evolve into a political party, which
al-Nur was "following closely." Mohammed attributed some of
this politicization to resentment at the influx of foreign
Arab populations from other parts of the Sahel. He said that
the Minister of the Interior had admitted in front of the
National Assembly that 75,000 to 100,000 Arabs from Niger had
relocated to Darfur. The Fur population viewed this
immigration as the NCP's attempt to bolster its support in
preparation for the 2009 elections. The Umma and Communist
parties were exploiting the ensuing resentment to create
opposition to the census. (Note: In an earlier meeting,
Minawi told the CDA that the Umma, Communist, and Democratic
Unionist parties were attempting to undermine NCP influence
in Darfur by encouraging political agitation in the IDP
camps. End note.)

SPLM Initiative Stalled?

8. (SBU) The UN and AU characterized the SPLM initiative as
in disarray and suffering from internal SPLM political
conflicts. According to the UN and AU, the "failure" of the
SPLM conference to get off the ground had resulted from a
disconnect between the SPLM leadership's goal for the
conference--preparing the non-signatories for
negotiations--and the SPLM Taskforce on Darfur's (TFD)
unwillingness to deviate from a broader meeting that would
include elements of civil society, traditional leaders, and
Arab tribal representatives. The UN and AU acknowledged,
however, that the TFD now blamed them for the delay in the
SPLM conference. They maintained that the SPLM must have a
prominent role in the political process and that the NCP had
"scored a point" with the collapse of the SPLM conference.
In a reversal of the UN/AU's previous position, they
suggested that the SPLM could work with civil society groups
while the UN/AU and CHD concentrated on preparing the
non-signatories for negotiations.

9. (SBU) The UK Ambassador said "it was odd that the
Taskforce could blame the UN and AU," explaining that her
impression during the June 15 meeting with First Vice
President Salva Kiir was that he delayed the conference
because of key Darfur rebel leader's refusal to attend (Ref.
A). Having just returned from Juba, where she had met with
Kiir, the UK Ambassador said she had the impression that the
SPLM initiative was "deadlocked." Kiir had told her that
even Darfur rebel leader Ahmed Abdulshafi, a former member of
the SPLM who maintains close ties to the movement, had said
he would not attend a conference in Southern Sudan until he
bolstered his military strength. The UN/AU reported that
Abdulshafi had felt that the SPLM initiative was unclear and
did not add anything to the process. The CDA cautioned that
work with civil society groups was "easy to do badly,"
despite its importance. He also noted the absence of
independent civil society organizations in Darfur and said
that one academic had told him "the Government has castrated
us." The CDA encouraged the UN/AU to coordinate closely with
the SPLM to define their role. (Note: Per Ref. B, recent
Embassy reporting indicates that the SPLM is re-focusing and
restructuring its initiative in a renewed effort to focus on
preparing the non-signatories for negotiations. End note.)

10. (SBU) Tripoli minimize considered.

© Scoop Media

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