Cablegate: Media Reaction: Ncp Refusal to Attend Addis Ministerial
RR RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1925 3391343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051343Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9452
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001925
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KSCA OTRA EAID CDC SU
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: NCP REFUSAL TO ATTEND ADDIS MINISTERIAL
WITH SECRETARY RICE
1. (SBU) Summary: Khartoum daily newspapers reported December 5
the refusal of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to accept
the Secretary's invitation to meet in Addis Ababa, adding that the
NCP "does not object" to the American effort. All reports noted
that the SPLM had accepted the U.S. invitation. The
government-sponsored media expressed "regret" that President Bashir
and his deputies are too busy in Khartoum dealing with pressing
national issues, including implementation of the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA), the very subject of the Addis meeting. Opposition
papers said the U.S. had "failed" to bring the parties together.
Several papers noted the discrepancy evident in the NCP's initial
insistence that it had not received an invitation. End Summary.
2. (U) Most of Khartoum's daily newspapers had front page coverage
of the NCP's decision not to attend the Addis Ababa Ministerial with
Secretary Rice, noting that the Government extended its "regrets" to
the parties involved. Khartoum daily Akhbar Al Youm quoted Mutrif
Siddig, MFA Under Secretary, as saying there was no way for the
President and his two deputies, Vice presidents Kiir and Taha, to
attend as they were presently involved in resolving outstanding CPA
issues. Siddig was quoted as saying the NCP had no objections in
principle to the U.S. initiative. However, the paper also quoted
Ambassador Al Dirdeiri Mohamed Ahmed (one of the NCP's CPA
negotiators and an Embassy contact) as saying that the Government
does object to addressing the crisis outside the CPA's bilateral
framework. Like many papers, Akhbar Al Youm specified that the SPLM
delegation in Addis was to be led by Pagan Amum, and would include
Deng Alor and Kosti Manibe, among others.
3. (U) Daily Al Rai Al Aam likewise noted the NCP's excuse that it
was "preoccupied with many national concerns." The paper said the
Secretary would be discussing other international Great Lakes issues
besides the CPA.
4. (U) Al Sudani's headline states that "The U.S. Initiative Failed
to Gather the Two Partners in Addis Ababa." The paper notes the
NCP's "regrets," but also quotes comments by CDA Fernandez. It says
the CDA "declined to comment" on the NCP's regrets, but that he said
the U.S. seeks "to safeguard the peaceful process and progress in
Sudan." In addition, Al Sudani noted the SPLM's stated intention to
explain to the IGAD states in Addis its views on the causes of the
current stalemate with the NCP. It said "the SPLM will work for
urging these states to contribute in rescuing the CPA."
5. (U) Al Sudani notes that initially the NCP had insisted publicly
that it had never received an invitation to the Addis conference.
It then quotes CDA Fernandez as confirming that invitations had been
extended to both parties.
6. (SBU) COMMENT: In the overall press coverage of the Addis
Ministerial, the NCP does not come off well. While some newspapers
seem to accept the ruling party's explanation of its decision not to
attend, the NCP's initial denial that it had received an invitation
made its later public excuses less credible. The NCP's refusal to
attend the Addis Ministerial is consistent with its strategy to
prevent any "internationalization" of CPA implementation, and to
insist that the impasse with the SPLM is a bilateral one best
addressed within the framework of the CPA.