Cablegate: Splm Re-Assessing Darfur Initiative

DE RUEHKH #0985/01 1730337
O 220337Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: SPLM Re-Assessing Darfur Initiative

REFTEL: Khartoum 960


1. (SBU) The SPLM is re-assessing its effort to bring together
Darfurians after postponing its planned conference in Rumbek.
Clement Janda, the SPLM's Task Force on Darfur (TFD) Chairman, was
disappointed by the failure of key rebel factions to attend and the
lack of support it received from the international community,
particularly the UN/AU. The SPLM and the Government of Southern
Sudan (GOSS) consider the Darfur issue important and appear
committed to finding a way forward after last week's setback. The
international community, particularly the UN/AU, could play a
positive role in promoting the SPLM conference if it accepts the
SPLM's approach--including a probably irreduceable degree of
uncertainty about how the conference will be structured and how the
initiative will play out. It would also be useful if the UN/AU
could state clearly what role it wishes to play in the SPLM effort,
rather than asking the SPLM to define it for them. End Summary.


2. (SBU) Mission staff met with the Chairman of the SPLM's Task
Force on Darfur (TFD) on June 20. Janda said that the Task Force
would reconvene in Juba to reassess its strategy in light of the
refusal of rebel leaders to attend and lack of strong support from
the UN/AU and the international community. Despite this pause for
reassessment, some activities continue. Justice and Equality
Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim had been trying to reach SPLM
Secretary General Pagan Amum, Janda said. The TFD had also received

a fax from purported Darfurian commanders assembled in Tripoli.

3. (SBU) Janda stated that the Darfur rebel movements were hostage
to their external patrons. He lamented that the more initiatives
there are the more factions emerge. GOSS President Salva Kiir
traveled to N'Djamena, Asmara and throughout the region to encourage
the outside patrons to promote unity, Janda said, and to discourage
potential spoilers. The SPLM had worked particularly hard to push
Eritrea toward a more constructive role, Janda argued. He opined
that this has been misperceived, particularly by the UN/AU, as
undermining the UN/AU role. Eritrea wants to improve its regional
relations, Janda said, and cooperation with the SPLM on Darfur is a
means to that end.

4. (SBU) The SPLM has a comparative advantage in attempting to bring
the Darfur factions together, Janda continued. As a part of the
Government of National Unity (GNU) it has access to President Omar
el-Bashir and the leadership in Khartoum, and indeed won Bashir's
agreement that the Rumbek conference could go forward. The SPLM
views itself as a facilitator, not a mediator, according to Janda.
Despite membership in the GNU, its sympathies lie with the Darfurian
people, and it can draw on its experience in overcoming serious
internal divisions to help the Darfurians. The SPLM is not an
outside group interfering, Janda said, but a Sudanese entity with an
understanding of rebel movements. (Note: It is unclear just what
kind of positive image the SPLM has among Darfurians, but it should
continue to improve on this. End note.)

5. (SBU) The SPLM does not intend on replacing other initiatives or
undermining the UN/AU, Janda emphasized. The plethora of competing
international and regional meetings and initiatives nevertheless
contributed to the refusal by the rebels to attend the SPLM
conference, Janda said. If asked, the SPLM would attend the planned
Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) meeting of rebel factions in
Mombasa or the June 25 ministerial in Paris, Janda claimed. But the
SPLM did not want to be in the position of approving or disapproving
the efforts of others.

Frustration With Rebels, UN/AU

6. (SBU) Janda expressed frustration with the rebel factions, which
all claim to control the most men and territory as they jockey for
the most seats at the table. He explained that the involvement of
the civil society in the SPLM initiative was designed to help
mitigate the consequences of disunity among the rebels and provide
input from Darfurians into the process. The involvement of civil
society or political elites was aimed at making the process more
representative and limiting the ability of the rebel movements make
grandiose claims of their relative strength. He said that during
the Abuja negotiations, the movements were unwilling and unable to
name the locations and numbers of men under their control. Many

KHARTOUM 00000985 002 OF 002

so-called faction leaders have only one car or five men and a
Thuraya satellite telephone. For outsiders, verification of
relative strengths was difficult and required information from
several sources.

7. (SBU) Janda said that the SPLM was disappointed with the
international community for scuttling its initiative without giving
it a chance to work. Only the U.S. and Norway committed funds.
After receiving statements of support from the UN/AU and telling the
SPLM to discourage bilateral donors from funding the SPLM initiative
directly, the UN/AU then failed to deliver. In Janda's view, the UN
and AU paid lip service to the SPLM initiative and were not keen to
see it move forward. Janda predicted that without an initiative or
effort being made in coming months to bring the Darfurians together,
the rebel movements would disintegrate further.

8. (SBU) Ambassador Pascal Ngoga, Senior Political Affairs Officer,
UNMIS, met with the task force on June 19 to discuss the SPLM's
views on the break-down of the initiative and find a way forward.
Ngoga told us on June 20 that Janda had expressed his frustration
with the lack of UN/AU coordination and support. Janda complained
that the international community told the SPLM to make "soup" but
then disagreed over the ingredients. Ngoga said that the crux of
the problem was that the UN/AU wanted the SPLM to define the role it
wanted the UN/AU to play. UN advisor Abdul Mohammed expressed
concern that the SPLM's involvement of civil society leaders could
replicate or jeopardize the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation,
according to Ngoga. He suggested that finding civilian and
traditional leaders with ties to the rebel movements might make the
SPLM's civil society concept more palatable.


9. (SBU) We do not view the damage or hard feelings caused by
failure to launch the SPLM initiative as previously planned as
irreparable. Resolving the Darfur question remains a critical issue
for both the Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLM, if for no
other reason than Darfur directly impacts on the CPA and on
international assistance for the South. Janda and the task force
will reconvene in the next week to determine a new game plan. The
outcomes of the ministerial in France on June 25 and the Center for
Humanitarian Dialogue's gathering of rebel factions in Kenya might
offer an opportunity for the SPLM to fine tune its approach and its
place in the sequence of events leading to negotiations. Perfect
clarity will remain elusive, however, and some degree of uncertainty
about the structure and outcome of SPLM effort is probably
inevitable. This setback has made it clear that coherent support
among the international partners and the UN/AU is crucial for the
SPLM's efforts to succeed. A consistent message to the rebel
factions and their external backers that the international
community, especially the UN/AU, views the SPLM conference as a
necessary stop on the roadmap to negotiations would be helpful. For
its part, the SPLM needs to engage the UN/AU at a senior level and
agree once and for all the role the UN/AU will play in the SPLM
initiative, and the relation between the SPLM's efforts and those of
the UN/AU. We will urge the SPLM to do this in a timely manner,
which would allow the international community to encourage the rebel
factions to attend and pre-empt other regional efforts. End

© Scoop Media

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