Cablegate: Msa Issue Moves to Resolution but Problems Linger

DE RUEHKH #1957/01 3450812
O 110812Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Payment of overdue Mission Subsistence Allowance
(MSA) to CFC party representatives began in El Fasher December 6 and
continues this week. Donors appear willing to cover the entire
US$4.6 million MSA estimated cost under certain conditions.
Although the MSA arrears issue may be resolved for now, party reps
to the Ceasefire Commission will likely still need some sort of
financial/logistical assistance under UNAMID. Text of MSA statement
that has been distributed to party reps is included in para 12. END

2. (U) The issue of paying a monthly stipend or MSA to the party
representatives has vexed the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) since its
inception in 2004. The MSA is authorized in the Ndjamena Ceasfire
Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement and was originally funded
by the EU and then by the UK and Netherlands. It was meant to assist
movement representatives establish themselves at Field HQ in El
Fasher and Sector HQs as they worked on CFC matters. Field HQ reps
received US$4,973 a month and Sector-based reps US$2,790 each. As
factions splintered, the number of party reps grew. By March 2007,
230 reps claimed MSA, costing AMIS over US$660,000 a month. On
March 12, AMIS met with the donor community agreed to reduce the MSA
to US$1,000 for Field HQ reps and US$500 for the others. AMIS
communicated that decision to party and movement leaders the next
day. The GoS was the only party to accept the reduced payment.
Other reps went on strike, refusing to assist AMIS units to go out
on patrol or conduct ceasefire investigations. The work of the CFC
effectively ground to a halt. The AU eventually found money to pay
the March MSA at the old rates, but no MSA has been paid for April
or subsequent months.

3. (SBU) Upon assuming command in mid-2007, Force Commander (FC) GEN
Agwai soon learned how important the party reps consider their
"entitlement" to MSA. Agwai and his troops were threatened by
various factions because the MSA remained unpaid. An armed CFC
party rep entered AMIS Field HQ, threatened the AMIS Chief of Staff
and fired a gun in the air. In October, more than 90 armed party
reps converged on El Fasher to demand MSA payment, causing GEN Agwai
to increase security around Field HQ. Party reps also disrupted
distribution of MSA to AMIS military observers in the field during
October and November. On November 28, The FC told international CFC
observers party reps had threatened to disrupt the AMIS/UNAMID
transfer of authority (TOA) ceremony over the MSA issue. Agwai
considered the MSA the biggest issue facing AMIS and feared it would
doom UNAMID if it remained unresolved. He engaged the AU, Joint
Special Representative Adada, the UN and donors to come up with
money to fund continued payment of the MSA. MSA costs are as

- US$4,243,425 for six months (April-September at old rates)
- US$6,368,253 for nine months (April-December at old rates)
- US$4,631,925 for nine months (April-September at old rates with
October-December at new/post-February rates for all 230 reps).

4. (SBU) On November 23, the Director of the AU Department of Peace
and Stability (DPS) sent a memo to the AMIS Head of Mission saying
the AU was transferring US$4 million to AMIS accounts to pay MSA for
three months at the old rates. The money came from other AU
accounts; the AU was anticipating donors would provide adequate
funding to recoup the transferred amount and cover all remaining MSA
costs. The $4 million would cover MSA arrears through August.

5. (SBU) EU CFC observer Richard Ciaglinski (UK) said he had been
assured by the UK Foreign Office that the UK, Netherlands and EU
would provide the necessary MSA funds. He told the Foreign Office
it needed to raise approximately US$4.6 million. The UK ambassador
was to inform the AU of the MSA donation in Addis Ababa at a Liaison
Group meeting on November 30. Ciaglinski said the donors put the
following conditions on the funds:

- the AU needed to request an exact amount for MSA in writing from
the donors;
- the MSA could only be given to individuals who signed a receipt;
- the payment process needed to be verified.

6. (SBU) On November 27 GEN Agwai convened a meeting of the party
reps and laid out his plan for paying the MSA arrears:

- Payment for April-June at the old rates to be initiated by
December 5, with a CFC member observing the payment;
- Payment for July-September at the old rates to be done by December
15, with a CFC member observing the payment; party reps to return
all AMIS property (computers, vehicles, cell phones, berets, IDs,
shoulder badges, etc.) in order to receive MSA payment; and
- Payment for October-December to be made at the new rates for only
one representative per party at CFC HQ.

KHARTOUM 00001957 002 OF 003

He also pleaded with the party reps to put the MSA issue behind them
finally and work together to make the CFC effective in order to
bring peace to Darfur.

7. (SBU) The party reps did not react to the MSA payment schedule,
focusing instead on the areas where the FC appeared to be
"unilaterally" changing CFC operations - reducing the 8 sectors to
3; taking away the party reps' AMIS property; and reducing the
number of CFC representatives. Several claimed he was suspending
the CFC and abrogating the DPA. The reps also objected to the FC's
lack of consultation. The meeting ended without agreement.

8. (SBU) On November 28, GEN Agwai met with the international CFC
observers to discuss next steps. Everyone agreed the previous day's
meeting had confused the MSA issue with the need to reform the CFC.
Visiting Embassy Poloff noted the party reps' concerns about the
continued viability of the DPA (reftel). Fieldoff recommended the
FC provide each party rep with a statement of the MSA payment
schedule, explaining the reason for the various changes and noting
their compliance with the DPA (see para 12). Also, in keeping with
the DPA, AMIS should pay Sector party reps for October-December, not
just HQ reps as originally planned. The CFC agreed.

9. (SBU) As the Field HQ prepared a schedule to distribute MSA
payments to the reps in the field (four days of two teams,
paymasters, military escorts and CFC observers, visiting 4-6 sites
daily), the promised AMIS money disappeared. DPS had sent another
memo directing the funds be spent on troop rotation and other
expenses. When GEN Agwai learned of the problem December 1, he
contacted Joint Special Representative (JSR) Adada and had further
use of the funds halted. GEN Agwai traveled to Khartoum December 3,
returning December 5 with US$330,000 and the promise of another
US$2.5 million (enough to cover the April-June arrears). GEN Agwai
told international CFC reps on December 6 he wanted MSA payment of
some kind to start that day to maintain his credibility since he
promised the party reps the first payment would occur by December 5.
He also said he had had a meeting with GoS officials while in
Khartoum, who argued he was changing the DPA (septel) - charges
similar to the ones party reps had made on November 27. Agwai
announced he had spoken to JSR Adada and suggested a Joint
Commission meeting be convened before the AMIS/UNAMID transfer of
authority to lay out plans for a new, more effective CFC under
UNAMID before all interested parties.

10. (SBU) On December 6, the Arab League announced it was donating
US$1 million to AMIS to help pay for MSA arrears. JSR Adada had
requested the Arab League donation while at the Libyan peace talks
in Sirte.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: Even though money is still not in hand to pay off
all the MSA arrears, it is possible the MSA arrears will be resolved
by the time of the transition to UNAMID. But the MSA legacy will
not disappear, for several reasons. First, the MSA is authorized in
the DPA (both the rebels and government now agree that not to pay
represents an abrogation of the agreement) and there is a clear need
for some sort of subsistence to ceasefire reps in the field.
Second, GEN Agwai's credibility with the party reps has taken a
beating as he has twice promised payment which has not materialized.
Third, AMIS and UNAMID failed to engage the parties and movements
on ways to make the CFC more effective, showing a disturbing
preference for making CFC changes unilaterally. A Joint Commission
meeting would be helpful, but there is not much time to organize one
before the transfer of authority. Sitting down with the reps and
having an open discussion about the future of CFC, as well as
defining exactly what UNAMID will be able to pay as subsistence to
ceasefire reps in the field, would be a welcome first step. END

12. (SBU) The following MSA statement was circulated among
international and AMIS CFC members before it was approved and
distributed to party reps on December 2. GEN Agwai also shared it
with the JSR, UN and AU. On December 5, the UN suggested changes in
the text to make clear UNAMID did not plan to provide any support to
the party reps. A synopsis of the UN changes are bracketed in the

1. The AU, through the financial support of donor countries,
initiated the Mission Subsistence Allowance (MSA) to help
representatives of the DPA signatories pay for their food and
lodging while serving on the CFC or in the Sectors. Over the course
of time, payment of the MSA was extended to representatives of
non-signatory factions, and the number of Party Representatives grew
significantly. In February 2007, the AU, donor community and Party
officials held a meeting in which a decision to reconsider amounts
paid as MSA was discussed and a new rate agreed upon. This decision
drew the ire of Party Representatives. Since March 2007, the MSA
was not paid due to the lack of funds from the donors, and the

KHARTOUM 00001957 003 OF 003

flagrant refusal of Party Representatives to accept the new pay
rates. Subsequently, the Representatives embarked on strike action
thereby paralyzing the activities of CFC and to a large extent AMIS
operations. The FC/Chairman CFC Gen ML Agwai inherited this
stalemate and on assumption of office commenced frantic efforts
aimed at resolving this vexed issue.
2. After extensive discussions with all interested parties and
members of the international community, the Chairman of the CFC is
pleased to announce the following plan for offsetting the
outstanding MSA payment based on an earlier agreement with Party
a. AU was compelled to source for money and pay the MSA for the
month of March 2007 as part of her contribution to the quagmire.
This action has been completed and all Party Representatives were
paid at the old rate.
b. MSA for the period April - June 2007 will be paid no later than
December 5. Payment will be made individually to Party
Representative upon presentation of his/her AMIS ID-card. CFC
representatives will monitor the payment procedure.
c. MSA for the period July - September 2007 will be paid no later
than December 15. Payment will also be made individually to Party
Representative upon presentation of the AMIS ID-card and after
return of all AMIS equipment (ID-card, computer, radio, mobile
phone, vehicle, beret, sleeve badge, etc.) that has been issued to
him/her. The AMIS ID-card must also be turned in at the time of
this payment. The return of AMIS property and equipment by December
15 is necessary to ensure proper accounting by AMIS, prior to the
transition of the Mission to UNAMID at the end of the year. CFC
representatives will monitor the payment procedure. [SUGGESTED UN
CHANGE: The party representative will sign a document that
acknowledges he/she has received final payment of the MSA and
neither AMIS nor UNAMID owes CFC members payment of any kind.]
d. MSA for the period October - December 2007 will be paid at a time
to be determined but to only one representative or observer per
party at the following rate: $1000 US per month per individual
observer at CFC HQ; $500 US per month per individual observer per
party at the Sector level subject to approval by AU. Party
observers will serve as liaison officers between the parties and the
CFC to facilitate monitoring, investigating and verifying efforts
during this period. Reduction in the number of eligible
representatives and in the amount of money is necessitated by lack
of funding. All observers will be facilitated by AMIS in accordance
with the DPA.
3. It is to be noted that with effect from 1 January 2008, AMIS will
be replaced by UNAMID, which will continue to monitor implementation
of the DPA pending the outcome of Libyan Talks. The AU cannot make
any financial commitments on behalf of UNAMID. The future
arrangements for the detail operation of CFC in support of the DPA
from 1 January 2008 will be spelt out by the AU/UN. [SUGGESTED UN
CHANGE: Delete para 3 and substitute instead "The plan outlined
above confirms that final payment has been made, terminating all
financial and logistical arrangements between the CFC and AMIS."]


12. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.


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