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Cablegate: Cda Discusses Abyei with Dirdiri

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O 031442Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4677
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

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DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM KPKO AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: CDA DISCUSSES ABYEI WITH DIRDIRI

REF: A) KHARTOUM 862 B) KHARTOUM 1135 C) KHARTOUM 1174

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 29, CDA Whitehead discussed
developments in the Abyei special administrative district with
Ambassador Al Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed (NCP), the Government of Sudan's
(GoS) Abyei point-person. Dirdiri said that the migration of
Misseriya tribes-people into Abyei this year could be violent if
attempts are made to disarm them. He also noted a potential for
violence in connection with the national elections this April, and
views the outcome of the Abyei referendum as riding entirely on
whether the Misseriya are entitled to vote in it. Dirdiri blamed
the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) for Misseriya anger
about the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling on Abyei (Ref
A) and said that attempts to improve their understanding of the PCA
decision were unlikely to bear fruit without substantive changes
benefiting the Misseriya. Dirdiri appears focused on whether the
Misseriya are permitted to participate in the Abyei referendum,
perhaps indicating that the GoS will use the Misseriya in an attempt
to retain control of Abyei, or as a tool to extract concessions from
the SPLM in other areas. End Summary.

----------------------------------
Misseriya Will Not Migrate Unarmed
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Dirdiri cautioned that hopes for a peaceful migration of
Misseriya this year into and through Abyei may not be realistic.
(Note: The Misseriya's annual migration south began in mid-October,
with the majority of participating Misseriya and their cattle
expected to reach the Abyei area by early December. End Note.)
Dirdiri stated that if the GoS and the Government of Southern Sudan
(GoSS) seek to disarm the Misseriya during their migration there are
likely to be conflicts. Dirdiri said that insecurity along the
Misseriya migration routes, including in and around Abyei, is rife,
and that the Misseriya could not be expected to travel unarmed. He
added that the Misseriya will also feel they are crossing a border
if asked to disarm upon reaching Abyei, adding to their concerns
regarding the PCA decision and boundary demarcation efforts.
Regarding demarcation efforts, Dirdiri noted that the GoS had
recently sent helicopters to help with the work at the request of
the demarcation committee, and that demarcation should be a simple
task. (Note: The demarcation of Abyei's boundary in accordance
with the PCA ruling has been delayed due to technical hurdles and
threats of violence from local Misseriya (Ref B and C). End Note.)

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April Elections Could Create Conflict
-------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Dirdiri cautioned that local elections in Abyei next April
also create risks. Dirdiri theorized that Dinka running for office
in Abyei will consider the movement of Misseriya into Abyei as a
threat to their election chances. He said Dinka politicians could
take actions such as spoiling local water sources to force the
Misseriya to by-pass Abyei on their southern migration. Dirdiri
noted that there are even rumors that the Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA) has plans to spray herbicide on the grasslands of Abyei
to prevent the Misseriya from grazing their cattle. (Note: The
SPLA does not have any helicopters from which to spray herbicide.
End Note.)

--------------------------------------------- ------
Misseriya Anger Regarding PCA Ruling Blamed on SPLM
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) Dirdiri accepted that efforts aimed at educating the
Misseriya people as to the effect of the PCA decision have not been
sufficient, but blamed the SPLM. He said that immediately after the
PCA decision was issued, Misseriya leaders were invited to Khartoum
and assured that the decision would not negatively affect their
people. Dirdiri said the SPLM should have taken similar
confidence-building measures, but that instead Salva Kiir, President
of the GoSS, told the Misseriya that they should support the SPLM or
continue being subservient to the National Congress Party (NCP) and
look to the NCP for their future welfare. (Note: Post is unable to
confirm this allegation from press reports on Kiir's visit to South
Kordofan. End Note.) According to Dirdiri, since then the
Misseriya have been angry and disaffected. Dirdiri said the GoS is
making efforts to contain this disaffection, for instance, by
warning the Misseriya against playing into the hands of Darfur rebel
groups, but he noted that currently the Misseriya have denounced
both the NCP and the SPLM. When asked whether a visit to Muglad by
a high level delegation from the NCP and SPLM could help defuse this
tension, Dirdiri said this would be difficult without substantive

KHARTOUM 00001234 002 OF 002


changes, such as confirming that the Misseriya are citizens of
Abyei.

--------------------------------------------- -
Misseriya Vote Will Determine Abyei Referendum
--------------------------------------------- -

5. (SBU) Dirdiri said that the rules governing the Abyei referendum
will be extremely contentious, as its outcome will be dictated by
whether the Misseriya are permitted to participate. Dirdiri said
that if they are allowed to participate, Abyei will clearly remain
part of northern Sudan and if they are not permitted to participate,
it will go to the south. Dirdiri stated that the SPLM will
therefore view the Misseriya vote as a threat to all they have
achieved in their struggle for control of Abyei. (Note: The CPA
states that the residents of Abyei are "members of the Ngok Dinka
community and other Sudanese residing in the area," so while Ngok
Dinka residing anywhere in Sudan will be able to vote in the Abyei
referendum, only Misseriya determined by the Abyei Referendum
Commission to be "residing in the area" can vote. In an October 29
conversation with David Raikow, Political Officer for the United
Nations Mission in Sudan, Raikow told Poloff that Dirdiri is
overstating the effect of the Misseriya vote, noting that all the
Misseriya in Sudan would probably need to converge on Abyei in order
to change the outcome of the referendum. Even Dirdiri admitted that
the number of non-sedentary Misseriya that migrate through Abyei are
limited in number. End Note.)

6. (SBU) Comment: Dirdiri appears focused on the Abyei referendum,
and to what extent the Misseriya are permitted to participate.
Dirdiri may be overstating local Misseriya concern with the outcome
of the Abyei referendum. Misseriya living in the area likely care
more about their grazing rights in Abyei and southern Sudan, and
their right of return to Abyei, and less about whether Abyei is part
of northern or southern Sudan. The GoS may use the Misseriya in an
attempt to retain control of Abyei, or as a tool to extract
concessions from the SPLM in other areas. End Comment.

WHITEHEAD

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