Cablegate: Sudan/Cpa: Aec Chair On Abyei, Mid-Term Report,

DE RUEHLO #1919/01 2051242
P 231242Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 001919


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2018

REF: STATE 66284

Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills, reason 1.4 (b/d).

1. (C/NF) Summary. Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC) Chair Sir Derek Plumbly is cautiously optimistic about the Abyei Roadmap and reiterated the need for the international community's support for pushing the NCP and SPLM ahead with arbitration. He said Sudanese President Bashir was pleased with the AEC's mid-term evaluation report, and the current momentum created by agreement on the Abyei Roadmap and the elections law may serve to help implementation of the report's recommendations, albeit begrudgingly so and at the last minute per the parties' usual behavior. Sir Derek plans to focus the Commission's work on supporting implementation of some of the reports key recommendations, while also traveling to some of the potential flashpoint areas along the North-South boundary. He is also considering creation of an informal advisory board for the AEC. Continued USG support of Sir Derek, both privately and publicly, will help ensure HMG's long-term commitment to Sir Derek's chairmanship. End summary.

On Abyei --------

2. (C) U.S. S/E Williamson's talks with the SPLM and NCP in the wake of the Abyei crisis were a "good catalyst" and his "departure" provided the necessary "shock to the system" to make the parties serious about finding a solution, according to Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC) Chair Sir Derek Plumbly. Sir Derek told Poloff July 23 that the Abyei Roadmap was an important "break through." He said the Abyei Roadmap's arbitration was different from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement's (CPA) original Abyei Boundary Commission's report because it was going to be handled by lawyers rather than historians and it would "be more difficult for the parties to refuse a second arbitrated agreement." By defining the word "define" to mean "delimitation," the terms of reference were tilted slightly in the NCP's favor, but in a way that the SPLM could live with.

3. (C/NF) On the hesitation of some countries (like Canada) to accept the Abyei Roadmap under the pretense that it was not true to the letter of the CPA, Sir Derek said the agreement was in keeping with the "spirit of the CPA" and has the potential to unlock the peace agreement's full implementation. While cautiously optimistic, he said it was important for the U.S., UK, and others to support the Roadmap and the arbitration process. Sir Derek said the Norwegians had even suggested that political negotiation in the margins of the arbitration would not necessarily be a bad thing, especially since neither party has the ability to do "long-term thinking or strategy."

4. (C) The key, however, was appointment of the interim administration, especially the deputy. Sir Derek thought the NCP would be willing to accept anyone as the head administrator, even Edward Lino (though the SPLM was unlikely to appoint him), as long as they could appoint a Misseriya deputy of their choosing. Sir Derek said this was a contentious and divisive issue within the SPLM. He was working with both sides to come up with practical solutions, such as changing the deputy's title or playing with the interim administration's org-chart.

On the Mid-Term Evaluation --------------------------

5. (C) Describing his July 9 meeting with President Bashir to discuss the AEC's mid-term evaluation, Sir Derek said Bashir had specifically liked the report's language about the NCP and SPLM's "partnership" and "progress." This setup had made it easier for Bashir to accept the final recommendations in the report, which both sides had ultimately signed up to implement. Sir Derek said Bashir had been slightly reluctant to publish the report, but had agreed to do so at Sayed al-Khateeb's recommendation. He thought the SPLM's support during the JEM attacks on Omdurman had helped. Sir Derek said the "packaging" of the report's release ceremony was very good, with representatives from the North and South and elements of both cultures.

The AEC's Focus ---------------

LONDON 00001919 002 OF 002

6. (C) Turning to the AEC's post mid-term evaluation focus, Sir Derek said he was going to try and capitalize on the momentum created by the agreement on the Abyei Roadmap and the elections law as well as the goodwill generated by the SPLM's support to the GoS over the ICC's call for indictment of President Bashir. Saying the parties would continue to "begrudgingly and at the last minute" implement the report's recommendations, Sir Derek said he planned to focus on a couple of the recommendations where he thought the AEC could make a real impact, such as the elections and wealth-sharing (with assistance from the USG and the Norwegians). He also plans to get out more and visit some of the potential flashpoints, such as the Nuba Mountains and Southern Kordofan. He is also thinking about establishing an informal advisory body to the AEC, comprised of academics and long-time Sudan watchers, to provide informal input and creative thinking.

7. (SBU) Sir Derek also plans to sort out the AEC's staffing. He is particularly keen to get staff in Juba as soon as possible and mentioned the possibility of a Swiss offer. He is traveling to Bern before returning to Sudan to discuss options with the Swiss Government.

Comment -------

8. (C/NF) HMG is pleased with Sir Derek's performance as AEC Chair thus far, particularly his intervention in helping bring the census back on track and delivering the mid-term evaluation report. HMG, however, does feel some consternation over funding Sir Derek's close-protection team (per their security requirements) at nearly GBP one million (USD two million) per year from a budget that is normally used for conflict prevention programs, not administrative overhead. While there is no indication that HMG will stop supporting Sir Derek as AEC Chair, USG reminders of the importance of Sir Derek's work, both publicly and privately, would help to quiet any internal critics. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE

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