Cablegate: New Abyei Administrator Reviews His Plans with Cda

DE RUEHKH #1351/01 2480910
O 040910Z SEP 08 ZDK




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Newly designated Abyei Administrator Arop Mayak
told CDA Fernandez that his immediate plans include establishing an
environment that will permit the IDPs to return soon, reestablishing
security, and promoting ethnic reconciliation between all the groups
in the area. CDA Fernandez assured him of strong U.S. support and
said that some development projects for the area already have been
identified, but must await the return of USAID implementing
partners. They agreed that the NCP is continuing to try to stir up
conflict between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya tribes to its own
advantage. END SUMMARY.

U.S. Stands Ready to Assist Abyei Administration
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2. (SBU) On September 2, Charge Fernandez met with Arop Mayak, the
newly appointed Administrator for Abyei. The CDA assured Mayak of
the U.S. commitment to help the new Abyei administration succeed.
The CDA noted that USAID already had identified some development
projects for the region before fighting broke out there in May (ref.
A); for example an all-weather airfield and feeder roads in the
surrounding countryside. Some money for these has been identified,
but implementation must await the return of USAID implementing
partners, who were forced to evacuate during the May fighting and
have yet to return. When the NGOs are able to return, the U.S. can
begin providing material assistance. He added that he hopes the
upcoming U.S. police-training program in Juba can be extended to
Abyei too. Mayak said that he believed that it could, and remarked
that the provisions regarding police were "the only positive part of
the Abyei Protocol."

First Priority: Getting People Home
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3. (SBU) Mayak said that his most important immediate task is IDP
returns. He said Abyei IDPs fall into two groups. First there are
those most recently displaced by the fighting in May. These people
are severely traumatized by their experience and will need some time
to recover, once they are able to return home.

4. (SBU) Mayak noted that a number of measures must be taken before
these people can go home. First, remaining unexploded ordinance
must be removed. Second, the dead bodies remaining from the May
fighting must be recovered. The CDA agreed that if the IDPs
returned to discover unburied dead it would lead to another
explosion of anger and possibly more fighting. Both of these
measures are well in hand, Mayak asserted. Finally, Mayak continued,
the SAF, some elements of which remain in Difra, must completely
evacuate if the returnees are to feel secure. CDA Fernandez
remarked that when he visited Abyei with Special Envoy Williamson
following the fighting, they were assured then that the SAF would be
gone within "a few days" (a week at the most) so SAF is already two
to three weeks later in withdrawing fully than GOS officials had
assured SE Williamson.

5. (SBU) The second category of IDPs are those who were displaced
earlier, during the civil war and earlier, and now want to come
home, Mayak continued (the first of displacements in Abyei date to
1965). Most of these want return to their original villages. This
will be problematic, as most are from the area north of Abyei town,
which remains the region most vulnerable to insecurity.

Reestablishing a Secure Environment
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6. (SBU) Mayak said that after his consultations in Abyei, he will
order the security forces to redeploy, mostly to the north of the
town. Mayak, a former SPLA commander, says that he intends to fully
exercise the Administrator's prerogative to control the JIU and JIPU
forces in the region to establish security. He also plans to
establish a small-arms-free zone in Abyei in order to restore the
residents' confidence in their security. CDA Fernandez asked how
Mayak planned to handle the "Baggara" Misseriya, nomadic Arab
herdsmen who migrate with their cattle through the Abyei region on
their way to grasslands farther south and who routinely carry
weapons. Mayak said he plans to designate a line north of Abyei,
beyond which the herdsmen may pass, but only without their arms.
The Charge commented that this is a sensible idea, but one to which
the GoS probably would object.

7. (SBU) Mayak noted that although there are three traditional
Misseriya migration routes, one through Unity State and one down to
Aweil in Northern Bahr al-Ghazal, the NCP continues to emphasize the
middle route to Abyei because they see it as a way to advance
Misseriya (and NCP) claims in the contested region, "they don't dare

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claim special privileges in Unity or Bahr al-Ghazal." Arap noted
that as Administrator, he will have authority over all of the
security forces in his region, both SAF and SPLM. He plans to order
both sides to withdraw, to the north and south, respectively. The
CDA remarked that he is primarily concerned by the SAF presence, but
he agreed that it is important to be even-handed.

NCP's Misseriya Trojan Horse
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8. (SBU) CDA asked where Mayak's NCP-appointed, ethnic-Misseriya
Deputy Administrator Rahama Al-Nour would be located. Mayak replied
that he should be in Abyei itself, but that Al-Nour plans to remain
in Khartoum for the time being. Mayak said that the two had met
earlier that day and that Al-Nour had told him that he wants to move
to Abyei soon, but is afraid to do so now because of the high-level
of tension there among the Dinka population. Al-Nour was almost
killed in May 2008 in Abyei and was only saved through the
intervention of SPLA General Piang (Luka Biong Deng's half-brother).

9. (SBU) Mayak said he had counseled Al-Nour to remember that he
will be in Abyei to represent the NCP, not the Misseriya. He had
also warned him that none of the other NCP candidates for office in
Abyei are to be from the Misseriya. CDA Fernandez commented that it
is good that Al-Nour appears not to be a strong personality. He
would have preferred that the Deputy not be a Misseriya, but if it
has to be one, it is best to have one who is weak. Mayak remarked
that the NCP named a Misseriya as Deputy in order to establish that
Abyei is not just the territory of the Ngok Dinka. The Charge
agreed, saying that the appointment is an NCP "Trojan horse." Mayak
added that he plans to begin a reconciliation program that will
embrace all of the region's ethnic groups; Ngok Dinka, Misseriya,
Nuer, Nuba, Rizeigat - going beyond Abyei's borders and beyond the
usual Misseriya-Dinka dynamic.

10. (SBU) CDA remarked that the NCP pays attention to what
foreigners say, and we can leverage that to help Mayak and his team.
For example, the appointment of the new Abyei Administration just
preceded the most recent visit of U.S. Special Envoy Williamson.
Knowing that the SE is interested in Abyei, the NCP had made a
special effort to point out to that the Administration was in place.
Mayak noted that he is constrained in whom he can work with - he is
limited to working through only three people, the three members of
the Presidency: President Bashir, First Vice President Kiir, and VP
Taha. This is a recipe for gridlock.

Escaping the "Dinka-Misseriya" Trap
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11. (SBU) Mayak said he plans to go immediately to Abyei for six
days, then travel to Juba or Khartoum, where he will present the
list of his Administration appointees for approval. CDA commented
that the NCP may use this as an opportunity to try to sneak some
more Misseriya into the Administration. He continued that Mayak's
plan to promote reconciliation between all of the ethnic groups is a
good idea, especially given recent Misseriya-Nuba tensions in
Southern Kordofan.

12. (SBU) CDA and Mayak agreed that the NCP works to keep the
Misseriya focused on the South and Abyei, in order to stir up
conflict between them and the Ngok Dinka. The NCP has an
established pattern of turning one tribe against another to its own
advantage, then the NCP throws them away. It is important to get
the Misseriya to realize that their future lies not to the south,
but to the north and get them to refocus from Abyei to Kadugli and
Muglad in Southern Kordofan (ref. b). This will allow them to
escape the NCP's "Dinka-Misseriya trap."

- - - -
13. (SBU) Mayak made a very good first impression. He seems to
have a clear idea of what he wants to do and the energy to get it
done. He has a clear-eyed, no nonsense understanding of the NCP's
machinations. Mayak's revelation that SAF remains in Difra, well
within the interim borders of Abyei and two weeks after their
(already delayed) departure is a concern although movement in Abyei
in the rainy season is always difficult. He has a difficult job
ahead of him, especially since the NCP and SPLM remain stalled on
the additional candidates for the interim administration, which will
make it difficult for Mayak to begin his work. But in the longer
term Mayak will have to deal with the volatile politics on the
ground in the aftermath of the fighting, in the midst of constant
interference from Khartoum, and to a lesser extent from Juba. His
plan to have the annual Misseriya cattle migration being an unarmed
one is the right idea but may be very difficult to implement - it

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could well be one of many Sudanese flashpoints once the rainy season
ends in October. We will be following his progress closely and seek
to maximize all forms of US assistance for his new administration.


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