Cablegate: Slm-Abdelshafi's Faith in Un/Au Roadmap Undermined

DE RUEHKM #1171 1980326
R 170326Z JUL 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: SLM-Abdelshafi's Faith in UN/AU Roadmap Undermined

REF: Khartoum 01092

1. (SBU) Summary: Members of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)
Abdelshafi faction were disappointed in the failure of the Center
for Humanitarian Dialogue meeting to take place. After being
informed by UN/AU officials that the CHD meeting was off, faction
members concluded that the UN/AU may have sabotaged it and/or
deliberately failed to support what they viewed as a U.S.
initiative. The UN/AU was vague in its explanation of where the
peace process was headed and short on details of its planned meeting
in Arusha on July 23. As a result, Abdelshafi's confidence in the
prospects for UN/AU-led negotiations on Darfur is extremely low at
this point. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On July 12, Pekka Haavisto, the Senior Advisor to UN Envoy
Jan Eliasson, and Sam Ibok, the Head of the African Union's Darfur
Peace Implementation office, met with Ahmed Abdelshafi and faction
members in Kampala. During the meeting, Haavisto informed them that
the CHD meeting planned for Mombasa was off. He cited two factors:
the "disappearance" of the Chadian official needed to give
permission for the chartered plane to pick up rebel commanders and
Kenyan "cold feet" over the purpose of the gathering. As a result,
Haavisto continued, the UN/AU would "take over" the CHD initiative
and hold a meeting of rebel leaders in Arusha, Tanzania on July 23.
The invitees would be Abdullah Yeyia, Ahmed Abdelshafi, Sharif
Harir, Khalil Ibrahim, Khamis Abdullah, and Abdelwahid El-Nur. The
sole purpose of the meeting, according to Haavisto, would be to
discuss the venue of the Darfur negotiations. Abdelshafi suspects
that the meeting would be used to make statements about forging
common rebel positions. (Note: Per reftel, Eliasson admitted during
a July 12 meeting with Special Envoy Natsios that the UN/AU hoped
the meeting would result in a common set of rebel positions. End

3. (SBU) Abdelshafi was surprised and puzzled that the UN/AU
announced the scuttling of the CHD initiative and then volunteered
to take it over. Abakar Abuelbashar, who led the SLM's
wealth-sharing negotiations at Abuja, asked the UN/AU officials how
negotiations could take place without any discussions among the
various SLM factions on a common position. Haavisto and Ibok told
them that the convergence phase of the UN/AU roadmap was over and
the parties were now in "pre-negotiations". Abdelshafi and other
faction members were astonished that no internal meeting of the SLM
was on the roadmap, according to Abuelbashar. Haavisto said that
the Darfur negotiations would begin on August 25. Abdelshafi asked
about the venue. Haavisto asked him for suggestions. Abdelshafi
offered Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, or Namibia. Haavisto encouraged
them to write letters to those governments with a request to host.
(Note: We have heard the UN/AU is planning to hold the talks in
Arusha. End Note.)

4. (SBU) Nouri Abdullah, an outspoken and extreme member of the
faction, told P/E Chief and CHD that to the rebels, it "looked like
the UN/AU completely and deliberately undermined the Americans."
Abdelshafi also told P/E Chief that he was very concerned about the
future direction of negotiations for the very same reason. He has
relied heavily on U.S. advice to participate in the CHD dialogue and
expressed his concern that the U.S. was being cut out of the
process. During the UN/AU meeting, Ibok tried to reassure
Abdelshafi by appealing to his ego and telling him that he was the
person to provide the Fur the leadership it needed. The endorsement
was flattering, according to other faction members, but did not give
Abdelshafi any clear sense of where a process without SLM unity
could go. As far as Abdelshafi was concerned, the UN/AU plan was
headed the same direction as the Abuja talks, relying on individuals
to deliver without having a mandate from their constituencies.

- - - -
- - - -

5. (SBU) Abdelshafi had worked hard to prepare for the CHD
dialogue, including clarifying his vision and concrete steps SLM
needs to take in the future. He had looked forward to the Mombasa
meeting as an opportunity to meet with other SLM leaders without the
interference of outside actors. He and others in his faction
believe that without this basic foundation, negotiations are doomed,
a prediction that is shared by other SLM field commanders in contact
with various U.S. officials in the region. Abdelshafi's suspicion
that the UN/AU deliberately sabotaged the CHD meeting or at a
minimum, did not support it, has seriously undermined his already
low opinion of UN/AU leadership. These changes have confused the
Kampala-based rebels as to whether or not the UN/AU listens to U.S.
advice and/or understands the underlying dynamics of the rebel
movements. The leaders of several faction indicate that they view
the USG as the guarantor of an eventual peace agreement and consider
a U.S. role in the process as vital.

© Scoop Media

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