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Cablegate: A/S Frazer's Meeting with Au Commission Chair Alpha Oumar

DE RUEHDS #2796/01 2531527
P 101527Z SEP 07







E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: A/S Frazer's Meeting with AU Commission Chair Alpha Oumar

1.(U): This cable is from U.S. Mission to the African Union (USAU)
Ambassador Dr. Cindy L. Courville.


Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer
met with AU Commission Chair Professor Alpha Oumar Konare on
September 7, 2007 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Their discussions focused on Darfur and on Somalia.




Professor Alpha Oumar Konare, AU Commission Chair
Mr. Kayumbu Mazimhaka, AU Commission Deputy Chair
Amb. Said Djinnit, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security
Professor C.A.L. Johnson, Secretary to the AU Commission Amb. John
Shinkaye, Chief of Staff of the AU Commission Chair's Cabinet


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A/S Frazer
Amb. Cindy Courville, USAU
Daphne Titus, USAU
Berouk Mesfin, USAU
Lauren Landis, AF/SPG


4. (SBU):: The meeting began with A/S Frazer saying that she felt
significant progress was made on Sudan. She felt comfortable with
the UN resolution and with the fact that peace talks are moving
forward. She emphasized the need to adopt an approach to the peace
process which included talking to all parties, bringing in the IDPs,
and making sure that Abdul Wahid does not stand outside the process,
is not marginalized and is effectively brought in.

5. (SBU): On the Government of Sudan's (GoS) acceptance of the UNSC
resolution, A/S Frazer indicated that the GoS was moving forward
because of the stringent sanctions applied by the USG. Although she
would like the sanctions lifted as soon as possible, A/S Frazer
underlined the importance of keeping the pressure on the GoS. She
also stressed that the ball was now in the court of the UN and the

6. (SBU): Chairperson Konare appreciated A/S Frazer's assessment
and set out to explain the developments of the past few weeks. He
said that although he understood the errors committed by the GoS, he
felt that it was not necessary to impose sanctions as there has been
a change in behavior on the part of the GoS. He asserted that the
best way forward was to play a card of confidence. Chairperson
Konare said that the political groundwork ought to be done and
maintained, and that, at the same time, all partners and African
Heads of States ought to take a firm stand. He said that the African
Heads of State took such a firm stand in 2006 when they refused the
AU presidency to Sudan. It was reinforced, according to Chairperson
Konare, by the Arab League in general and King Abdullah of Saudi
Arabia in particular, the latter putting tremendous political
pressure on Sudan.

7. (SBU): Chairperson Konare reiterated his position that it was
important to have faith in the GoS, but at the same time, necessary
to show resolve and vigilance towards the GoS and the rebel
movements. He hopes the USG will play this card of confidence, and
also told French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in July to keep
playing this card. Chairperson Konare mentioned that he thought the
Gordon Brown/Nicolas Sarkosy offensive did not reflect the situation
on the ground. He disputed the prevailing notion of Sudan being a
burning house, although he acknowledged that there were problems
that needed to be addressed and actions that should even be

8. (SBU): Chairperson Konare pointed out that if the Darfur problem
is not resolved quickly, it could spill over and create unmanageable
consequences, not only for Sudan but also for the whole of Africa.
He said that he has clearly told the Sudanese that the AU was

ADDIS ABAB 00002796 002 OF 005

fighting for one Sudan, a democratic Sudan that accepts diversity.
He declared that the independence of the South was not a solution,
and noted that the late John Garang understood the risks of
independence. He further said that the AU has repeatedly told the
various neighbours of Sudan not to play the game of destabilizing
Sudan. Chairperson Konare clearly stated that destabilizing Sudan
would result in destabilizing the Great Lakes region, the Horn of
Africa and even the Sahel.

9. (SBU): In reference to the upcoming UNGA, Chairperson Konare
asserted that the Darfur meeting scheduled for September 21 in New
York will provide a forum to facilitate evaluation of the political
process and the implementation of the UN resolution, and also help
speed up the process. He said that the meeting will have senior
level participants, and organized under AU/UN auspices, as well as
bring in humanitarian and human rights organizations working in
Darfur. The GoS would be invited; the USG and the EU could
participate as observers. He said that listening to all the parties
involved was of primary importance. He further said that an agreed
calendar listing dates for the implementation of resolutions and
decisions must be created.

10. (SBU): As far as Darfur is concerned, Chairperson Konare feels
that, despite obvious weaknesses in management and logistics, the AU
is searching for a formula that will enable it to move forward as
quickly as possible. He said that waiting for the perfect or ideal
situation was simply imprudent. The important thing for him was for
relevant parties to analyze the existing possibilities for
deployment. He hoped, as in his statements in Khartoum, to rely on
the African troops at hand that can be deployed quickly. Then, it
would be possible to bring in the UN to help in the domains where no
African troops have volunteered and, at the same time, avoid the
creation of a crisis of confidence on the part of the GoS.

11. (SBU): Chairperson Konare emphasized that it was crucial to
strike an agreement between the rebel movements and the GoS. Such an
agreement could create a solid basis to move forward. Chairperson
Konare added that Abdul Wahid has failed to clearly articulate what
he wants, and has only himself to blame for failing to negotiate and
obtain guarantees from the GoS.

12. (SBU): First, A/S Frazer raised concern about the delay in the
UN appointment of the Rwandan the Deputy Force Commander. She said
that the USG had done vetting and would like to see the appointment
confirmed. Secondly, she also raised concern that the mission should
not exclusively be composed of African troops, highlighting the
participation of a Chinese engineering company. She felt that
accepting a sequencing of deployment in Sudan that involved going to
the limits of African forces before infilling with non-African
troops was neither feasible nor effective, and would undermine
efforts to recruit for Somalia, where the participation of African
peacekeepers is even more critical.

13. (SBU): In response, Chairperson Konare emphasized the
importance of avoiding a crisis of confidence with the GoS. He then
stated that the AU has received no evidence whatsoever of improper
conduct against Rwandan Deputy Force Commander Major General Karenzi
Karake. Konare also said that the Deputy Force Commander still has
the confidence of the AU, and that he had already instructed
Commissioner Djinnit to tell the Deputy Force Commander to
immediately proceed to his post. If some negative evidence is
forthcoming in the future, the AU will take the appropriate
measures. He stressed the fact that the Rwandan troops are the most
exemplary in all the engagements they participate in, that he did
not wish to create confusion in their ranks, and that he especially
did not want to create the impression of defiance towards President
Kagame without reason.

14. (SBU): During the discussion of African troops, Chairperson
Konare underscored the need for a common understanding. He said
that, frankly speaking, there were a lot of difficulties during the
negotiations with the GoS. Thus, a compromise was warranted, in the
sense that African troops will deploy first to fill required
billets. If there are not enough African troops available to fill
the required billets, then non-African troops would be called in. At
this point, A/S Frazer commented that the resolution only used the
term predominantly African. Chairperson Konare replied that such
language represented a UN game. He has repeatedly told UN
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Guehemo that the
UN should take care of management, logistics and other technical

ADDIS ABAB 00002796 003 OF 005

aspects of the hybrid.

15. (SBU): A/S Frazer again noted that in no text, whether UN
Security Council resolutions or PSC communiques, was it mentioned
that the Darfur mission will only be filled by African troops. She
added that doing it in sequence could create a problem, and that the
force should not be all-African. A/S underlined that all relevant
written documents only state that the force will be predominantly
African, and states such as Nepal and Bangladesh are willing and
able to send troops.

16. (SBU): Commissioner Djinnit and Deputy Chairperson Mazimhaka
then explained to Chairperson Konare that while most of the force
would be African, it may be necessary to deploy non-African troops
in the early phase of the deployment before December 31, such as the
Chinese engineers and the Nepalese. They emphasized to Chairperson
Konare that the overall balnce in the end will result in a
predominance of African troops. Chairperson Konare pointed out that
that he was not a military planner, and accepted the explanation
provided by Djinnit and Mazimhaka. Chairperson Konare underlined
that the AU values the support of both the UN and USG and that all
three working together could only increase the efficiency of the
mission in Darfur. He said that the AU had absolutely no reason to
support the GoS. He said that, at no time, did he change his stance
on the matter. He affirmed the need to avoid misunderstandings and
to continue having discussions, and declared that the AU cannot move
forward without the support of the USG. Chairperson Konare said that
is essential to maintain a common front in order to resolve the
Darfur problem. Otherwise, the GoS will be able to play on the lack
of a common front.

17. (SBU): Chairperson Konare said that it was not easy for the UN
and the AU to arrive at a common understanding. The AU always tried
to move forward with what it has at its disposal, and then make
adjustments. Konare reiterated the importance of not perpetually
giving the impression that the GoS cannot be trusted even if there
are credible reasons to doubt its sincerity. He drew attention to
the large amount of incentives the USG offered to the GoS in
previous years; offers that were not taken up by the GoS and that
are no longer on the table as a result. Maintaining the common front
was, for Chairperson Konare, the only way to force the GoS not to
spoil the present window of opportunity. Despite, the track record
of the GoS, Chairperson Konare believes that compromise is sometimes
needed to go forward as the situation can change completely, for
instance, if the rebel movements and the GoS reach a deal.


18. (SBU): Chairperson Konare stated that Somalia was clearly a big
problem. He mentioned the meeting of Somali opposition forces
organized by the Eritrean Government on September 6. Chairperson
Konare was convinced that the date for the meeting was not innocent
as there was a meeting of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission
on the same day. He said that it was the anti-Ethiopian feeling that
united the forces gathered in Asmara, the same anti-Ethiopian
feeling displayed by President Isaias. Chairperson Konare said that
this sentiment is dangerous and could lead to war if all concerned
parties including the AU and USG are not cautious. He said that he
did not have all the facts about the conclusion of the Somali
reconciliation conference in Mogadishu. Yet, he believed that the
conference did not reach its goal as testified by what was underway
in Asmara. He said that there are many things that need correction,
and that broadening the dialogue with some of the forces sitting in
Asmara. He declared that African troops ought to be quickly sent to
Somalia, thus ensuring the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

19. (SBU): He also said that a worrying factor was the weakness of
the present Somali Government and undue foreign interference.
Chairperson Konare is convinced that only a strong and
representative government, which takes care of the people's problems
and has its own capable army, can bring a solution to the actual
Somali conflict. The two ways of having a representative government
were, according to him, either having elections or establishing an
all-inclusive dialogue. He said he was surprised to hear the Somali
Government talk of holding elections within two years. Holding such
elections in the absence of real political parties, of freedom of
press and uncompromised businessmen would only give power to the
Islamists who totally hold sway over the Somali social fabric.

20. (SBU): Chairperson Konare said that it was easier and less

ADDIS ABAB 00002796 004 OF 005

costly to help set up a strong government with its own army rather
than end up sending 10,000 or 30,000 African troops. He added that
UN troops would not be a solution and even doubted if the UN would
step in Somalia any time soon. Instead, he recommended that the UN
and AU work hand in hand to ensure the redeployment of the Ethiopian
troops. If the Ethiopian troops do not withdraw fast, Chairperson
Konare predicted dire implications for Ethiopia. He said that, for
Ethiopia, withdrawing from Somalia would enable it to solve the
trouble in the Ogaden and to contain the potential Islamist threat
within its own borders.

21. (SBU): Chairperson Konare informed A/S Frazer that he had
appointed a new representative for Somalia that will be based in
Mogadishu in order to take part in the political process. He
considered that the present Somali Government has left the AU aside
on the political front, and believed that if the AU is not brought
on board the situation in Somalia will not improve at all, with the
dynamics set in Asmara getting the upper hand. A/S Frazer completely
agreed with the analysis of Chairperson Konare and said that the
focus should be on bringing in African troops. The USG is ready to
provide USD 2-3 million to finance any contingent that is ready to
go in. It will complete the training of the Burundian battalion by
mid-October. The French did not train the Burundians well according
to A/S Frazer, and the USG provided them training with the proper

22. (SBU): Chairperson Konare highlighted once again the urgency of
getting African troops because he is greatly preoccupied by the
political situation in Burundi which was rather volatile and getting
sticky, and also of the possibility that there could be a coup. He
said that Commissioner Djinnit went to Burundi to advice Burundian
President Nkurunziza to manage the political situation as serenely
as possible. He said that the priority for Nigeria was Darfur and
not Somalia. As to the possibility that South Africa would provide
equipment, Chairperson Konare voiced his concern that South Africa's
internal situation was not conducive. Commissioner Djinnit informed
the meeting's participants that South Africa had initially made a
general commitment to provide support in finance, logistics, and
that he would pursue the matter with South African Foreign Minister
Zuma. A/S Frazer inquired if Chapter 8 could be used to assist
African troops to go in. Commissioner Djinnit replied that there was
such a possibility, and that Chairperson Konare had sent a letter to
the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking for the UN's assistance
in finance and logistics. Chairperson Konare added that the UN ought
to recognize that it has a responsibility to make sure that there is
peace and a strong government in Somalia.

23. (SBU): A/S Frazer noted that the national reconciliation
conference had actually issued a good communiqu and seems to try to
reach out to all entities and groups. She raised the significance of
having the AU speak out more on the extremist elements. A/S Frazer
also said that Eritrea was playing the spoiler and that it was not
acceptable. Chairperson Konare reiterated the importance of getting
Ethiopian troops out, thus denying the anti-Ethiopian opposition of
a pretext not to join in the dialogue. And, he said that the
appointment of a new representative for Somalia based in Mogadishu
was to increase the AU's evaluation, approval or censure of
different groups. He agreed that Eritrea was acting as a
troublemaker in Somalia, and also in Darfur. Nevertheless, he
alluded to the support that Eritrea, which is too weak to act alone,
receives from close allies of the US such as Qatar.


24. (SBU): Chairperson Konare then called the attention of A/S
Frazer to a number of regional issues that the USG should be
attentive to. The first issue was that of Sudan and Somalia. The
second issue was the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
And the third issue was the deteriorating situation in the Sahel.
Chairperson Konare said that he did not need to say more on the
first issue, as it was sufficiently covered in the meeting. As to
the second issue, that of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he
recommended that President Kabila should be pressed not to put down
the rebellion of General Nkunda militarily and rather seek dialogue
and negotiation. He also identified the Interhamwe as the primary
obstacle for a lasting peace in the country and emphasized the dire
need to get rid of the threat from this force. A/S Frazer responded
to this issue by saying that she has spoken to Presidents Museveni,
Kabila and Kagame that they have all kept open their lines of
communication, and that there will be soon a Tripartite Plus meeting

ADDIS ABAB 00002796 005 OF 005

in Kampala, Uganda. She acknowledged the need for a more aggressive
joint operation to push back negative forces.

25. (SBU): Turning to the third issue, that of the Sahel,
Chairperson Konare explained that drug trafficking was destabilizing
the Sahel's fragile African states. The drug trafficking route going
through the coast and Mauritania was responsible for destabilizing
Mauritania, the north of Niger, the north of Mali, Chad, Darfur, and
Algeria where a deadly suicide bomb attack occurred just yesterday.
He raised the instability in Niger as a case in point. The Prime
Minister's government was recently voted out of office, and the
Tuareg are engaged in a rebellion in the north of the country.
Furthermore, Niger has oil-related problems with Libya, and
uranium-related problems with the French nuclear engineering group
Areva. He said that he recently sent Commissioner Djinnit to urge
Niger's President Tandja, who seems to have opted to crush the
Tuareg rebellion militarily, to exercise maximum restraint. He also
noted that Niger's destabilization could spill over and touch Chad,
Darfur and Mali, citing the recent incident involving suspected
Tuareg rebels who abducted Malian soldiers and took them off to
Niger. Chairperson Konare was also concerned that a coup d'etat
could be staged in Niger.

26. (SBU): Chairperson Konare especially criticized the
Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative launched by the USG. He
complained that the initiative bypassed state authorities and dealt
directly with local communities. He also questioned the rationale of
the initiative citing the example of Morocco where Islamists are
expected to make gains in the upcoming elections. A/S Frazer
responded by saying that the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism
Initiative aimed at countering extremist influences in the Sahel and
at assisting governments to better control their borders by focusing
on military training of state authorities while supporting NGO
activities that assist local communites via USAID programs. She also
pointed out the problem the USG has in dealing with rebel groups
such as the ONLF and the Tuareg rebellion, which are domestically
based but still entertain links to extremist groups such as Al

27. (SBU): A/S Frazer concluded the meeting by offering to
follow-up with Chairperson Konare on strategizing about how best to
deal with Africa's many insurgencies and to ensure that the TSCTP is
effective in countering the terror threat in the Sahel.

28. (U:) Assistant Secretary Frazer has cleared this message.


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