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Cablegate: Historic Leader Goukouni Oueddei Returns to Chad,

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNJ #0353/01 2361230
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241230Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7181
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS NDJAMENA 000353

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/S AND S/USSES
NSC FOR GAVIN
LONDON FOR POL - LORD
PARIS FOR POL - BAIN AND KANEDA
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR AU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PINR SU LY CD
SUBJECT: HISTORIC LEADER GOUKOUNI OUEDDEI RETURNS TO CHAD,
STRENGTHENING DEBY INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY

REF: (A) NDJAMENA 343, (B) NDJAMENA 306,
(C) NDJAMENA 249

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Ex-President and long-time opposition figure Goukouni
Oueddei returned to Chad August 18, met with President Deby and PM
Abbas, and announced that he would return to Chad "permanently" to
continue his efforts towards "national reconciliation" both with
internal opposition political parties and external armed rebel
groups. Goukouni urged all Chadians to join in the
national-reconciliation effort, while specifying that he himself did
not plan to enter Chadian politics on an electoral basis. Goukouni's
return complements his 2007 meetings with Deby in Libreville and
Ndjamena; his formation of a negotiating team; and his failed
efforts to conciliate rebel chieftains Mahamat Nouri and Timan
Erdimi then. It is too early to assess the full impact of
Goukouni's "permanent" return, including what official position if
any he will receive from the GOC and how successful he will be in
wooing Chad armed rebels, but the ex-President's decision to throw
in with Deby (like that of ex-rebel Ahmat Soubiane's similar recent
decision - REF B) contributes to the Deby government's legitimacy
and burnishes its commitment to national reconciliation writ large.

2. (SBU) Goukouni's reconciliation and return strengthen Deby's hand
in several ways. It conciliates the frequently "discontented"
Teda/Toubou people, for whom Goukouni is a prestigious figure, and
by extension, the entire Gorane ethnic group, of which the
Teda/Toubou are a part. It brings to the country another "historic
figure" whose presence in Chad permits Deby to demonstrate his
regime's inclusiveness, including to former foes; in this sense
Goukouni replaces the recently deceased ex-President Malloum (REF C)
in the "petit pantheon" of ex-rulers now reconciled with "the power
in place." Finally, Goukouni's return adds credibility to Deby's
commitment to "national reconciliation" including with Chad rebels
in Sudan. It probably also earns Deby points with the Libyans as
well.

3. (SBU) Goukouni's orientation has generally been pro-Libyan (and
skeptical of French intentions in Chad), while Habre and Deby have
generally been considered pro-Western (and skeptical of Libyan
intentions in Chad. This latest visit may be part of the intensified
Libyan effort to end the Chad-Sudan proxy war and enhance stability
along its southern and southeastern border (REF A). END SUMMARY.

------------------
GOUKOUNI DE RETOUR
------------------

4. (U) Ex-President and long-time opposition figure Goukouni
Oueddei returned to Chad August 18, met with President Deby and PM
Abbas, and announced that he would return to Chad "permanently" to
continue his efforts towards "national reconciliation" both with
internal opposition political parties and external armed rebel
groups. Goukouni urged all Chadians to join in the
national-reconciliation effort, while specifying that he himself did
not plan to enter Chadian politics on an electoral basis. Goukouni's
return complements his 2007 meetings with Deby in Libreville and
Ndjamena; his formation of a negotiating team; and his failed
efforts to conciliate rebel chieftains Mahamat Nouri and Timan
Erdimi then.

5. (U) The 65-year old Goukouni was accompanied by a members of a
"technical committee" dedicated to peacemaking among Chadians and
members of his own political movement, the National liberation Front
of Chad (FNLT). He was greeted at the airport by the National
Mediator, Abderaman Moussa, and other officials. After his meetings
with the President and PM, Goukouni traveled to his ancestral
homeland in northwestern Chad to preach national reconciliation to
his Teda/Toubou ethnic brethren and to exhort them to support the
Deby regime.

--------------
PUBLIC REMARKS
--------------

6. (U) Goukouni described to the press his intentions: "We are
here not as mediators but as facilitators. We are trying to get in
touch with all parties, the authorities as well as the discontented,

inside and outside the country. It is this exact framework, the
search for peace, that we are here, to consult President Deby. With
his agreement, if that is possible, we will continue our mission.
If not, we will draw our own conclusions. We want to demonstrate
our good faith and determination in the search for peace in Chad."

7. (U) When asked if he were returning definitively to the country,
he replied that that depended on the government: "I do not think
that this visit will keep me here long. I do not consider myself as
in the opposition. I consider myself as always a part of this
country. If temporarily I reside in Algeria, that does not mean
that I am in the opposition or that I am discontented with the power
in place. On the contrary. That is why I want to demonstrate my
firm commitment and the sincerity of those who accompany me."
Goukouni appealed to all Chadians: "It is imperative for all
Chadians to open their hearts and to work hand in hand to
reconstruct their country, nothing but that."

8. (U) After meeting with President Deby August 19, Goukouni said
he had come back to stay: "I have decided to come back definitively
to Chad to be of use to my country. Two essential facts led to this
decision: first of all the Chad today has changed a lot from the
Chad of before. The authorities have a desire to lift the country
out of its under-development." Goukouni said the second reason was
that Sudan had been refusing him a visa for three years to go to
meet Chad opposition figures based in camps in the Darfur region. He
repeated that that he wanted to help negotiate a peace deal between
the rebels and the Chad government: "I have come back to contribute
to peace and so I will not be getting involved in politics," he
said. "I will not be setting up a political party. I am just a
simple Chad citizen like everyone else."

----------------------
PREVIOUS TRIPS TO CHAD
----------------------

9. (U) Under the aegis of then Gabonese President Bongo, Goukouni
met with Deby in April 2007 in Libreville to discuss ways to end the
current civil war. Saying that Chad was in grave danger, Goukouni at
that time expressed a hope that he could use his "moral authority"
to save it and assembled a team of collaborators for this purpose.
He said that Deby had agreed to Goukouni's desire to be allowed to
return to Chad from exile in the future. Goukouni said" "I'll
commit myself to go to these Chadians who have taken up arms to
propose the idea that they talk with Deby. Those who accept will be
heard. Those who refuse, we'll know who they are." Later that
month, the leaders of two rebel groups -- Mahamat Nouri of the Union
of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) and Timane Erdimi of
the Rally of Democratic Forces (RAFD rejected Goukouni's offer to
mediate. Goukouni returned to Chad again in July 2007, along with
about twenty other exiled opponents of the regime, for a day of
discussions with Dby regarding the rebellion and how to resolve the
situation.

10. (U) In 2008, a Radio France reporter compiled and published a
set of interviews with Goukouni covering the period of his life from
his childhood days of looking after camels through the FROLINAT
rebellion and into the 1990s after Presdient Deby came to power.
This compilation of interviews, "Temoignage pour l'hisoire du Tchad"
(Eye-witness Account of Chad's History), provides a rare glimpse of
the various events and personalities that affected so profoundly the
post-independence period of rebellion (1965-1990).


---------
BIO NOTES
---------

11. (U) Goukouni Oueddei, born 1944, was Head of State of Chad in
1979 and again from 1979 to 1982. Goukouni, an ethnic Teda (also
known as Toubou), a branch of the Gorane ethnic group that dominates
north-central and north-west Chad, is the son of Oueddei Kichidemi,
Derde (traditional chief) of the Teda people.

12. (U) Goukouni entered politics in the late 1960s as a militant
in the National Liberation Front of Chad, the principal northern and
central opposition group opposed to the political dominance enjoyed
by southerners under the presidency of Francois Tombalbaye. After
Tombalbaye's assassination in 1975, tensions between the two
geographical halves escalated into a convoluted civil war that
involved several Chadian political groups, Libya, the United States,

and France, that lasted through the 1980s

13. (U) Goukouni became interim Chadian head of state in March
1979, was succeeded briefly by Lol Mahamat Choua, then was acclaimed
President of the Transitional Government of National Unity (GUNT),
which sought national reconciliation, in November 1979. Goukouni's
Vice President was Wadel Abdelkader Kamougu (today Chad Defense
Minister); his Defense Minister was Hisshne Habr. The personal
rivalry between erstwhile allies Goukouni and Habre was intensified
by Goukouni's agreement to "unify" Chad and Libya under one
government. When his GUNT regime was overthrown by Habr loyalists
in June 1982, Goukouni went into exile in Libya. Habr consolidated
his own power into a centralized military dictatorship.

14. (U) In 1983, Goukouni returned to Chad with substantial Libyan
assistance to fight the Habr rgime through guerilla warfare and
called a new constitution and liberalization of political party
activity. In October 1986, the Libyans arrested Oueddei, and in the
process was shot and wounded. He then broke with the Libyans and
went into exile in Algiers instead in February 1987. However, some
questioned whether he had truly broken with the Libyans, and in July
1987 Oueddei said that he was on good terms with them.

-------
COMMENT
-------

15. (SBU) It is too early to assess the full impact of Goukouni's
latest return trip, including what official position if any he will
receive from the GOC and how successful he will be in wooing Chad
armed rebels, but the ex-President's decision to engage with Deby
(like that of ex-rebel Ahmat Soubiane's similar recent decision -
REF B) contributes to the Deby government's legitimacy and burnishes
its commitment to national reconciliation writ large.

16. (SBU) Goukouni's reconciliation and return strengthen Deby's
hand in several ways. It conciliates the frequently "discontented"
Teda/Toubou people, for whom Goukouni is a prestigious figure, and
by extension, the entire Gorane ethnic group, of which the
Teda/Toubou are a part. It brings to the country another "historic
figure" whose presence in Chad permits Deby to demonstrate his
regime's openness and inclusiveness, including to former foes; in
this sense Goukouni replaces the recently deceased ex-President
Malloum (REF C) in the "petit pantheon" of ex-rulers now reconciled
with "the power in place." Finally, Goukouni's return adds
credibility to Deby's commitment to "national reconciliation"
including with Chad rebels in Sudan. It probably also earns Deby
points with the Libyans as well.

17. (SBU) Goukouni's orientation has generally been pro-Libyan (and
skeptical of French intentions in Chad), while Habre and Deby have
generally been considered pro-Western (and skeptical of Libyan
intentions in Chad). This latest visit may be part of the
intensified Libyan effort to end the Chad-Sudan proxy war and
enhance stability along its southern and southeastern border (REF
A).


NIGRO

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