Cablegate: Local Diplomats Believe Libya Unlikely to Push Hard for Second Term As Au Chair
OO RUEHBC RUEHBZ RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDU RUEHKUK RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN
DE RUEHTRO #1036 3570946
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 230946Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5627
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA 0005
RUEHLG/AMEMBASSY LILONGWE 0008
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6177
S E C R E T TRIPOLI 001036
NOFORN SIPDIS DEPT FOR NEA/MAG E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2019
TAGS: PREL AU AL KPAL MI LY
SUBJECT: LOCAL DIPLOMATS BELIEVE LIBYA UNLIKELY TO PUSH HARD FOR SECOND TERM AS AU CHAIR REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 2945 B. LILONGWE 690
CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, US Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1.(S/NF) Rumors persist that Libya is seeking an unprecedented second consecutive term as African Union Chair, driven largely by its continued "dinar diplomacy," much of it delivered by personal envoys of Muammar al-Qadhafi. Recent gifts, both public and discreet, to member states have been interpreted by some diplomatic missions as part of an orchestrated campaign to insert Libya into position above Malawi or its Southern Region neighbors. A series of head-of-state visits, a C-10 summit (reportedly focused on UN reform) and the recent announcement of a $250 thousand gift to the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry have added fuel to the rumors. However, we have also learned that Malawi -- next in line to chair the AU -- has not been moved by either Libya or the other African states Libya has sought to influence through its largesse.
2.(C) Diplomats from two North African embassies separately told Poloff that they expected Libya's "donations" to continue but that they did not expect Libya to make the coordinated push for the Chairmanship that it did last year. Egyptian Poloff commented that the Libyans already have "their plate full" with the March 2010 Arab League summit, for which the government is constructing opulent guest quarters and a new meeting hall in Tripoli. He noted that while Libya cleared the way for its AU candidacy last year through CEN-SAD coordination meetings, several (un-named) CEN-SAD partners oppose a second term for Qadhafi and that "it would be very difficult for Egypt to support." He assessed that Libya's donations were "business as usual" for Libyan diplomacy and likely represented a hedge should the chairmanship become open, rather than a strong push for a second term.
3.(C) The same contact assessed that Libya was continuing its policy of cash donations to African countries in order to retain good relations with countries that "hate" Qadhafi's leadership of the AU. The Egyptian Poloff said he took rumors that Libya intended to focus on Gaza and Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts during its Arab League presidency as a sign that al-Qadhafi preferred to change course instead of pushing forward an AU agenda of immediate political union that had made little progress despite two Libyan-controlled summits. (Hamas leader Khalid Mashal was in Tripoli for consultations on December 20.) The consensus among AU-member diplomats polled was that should Malawi unexpectedly waiver due to Libyan pressure, that other Southern Region states that were "fed up" with Qadhafi's chairmanship would fill the gap, per regional rotation rules.
4.(C) Comment: Pan-African messages feature heavily in the image al-Qadhafi has created for himself. State media outlets append "President of the African Union" to his customary title of "Leader of the Revolution" (and, less frequently "King of the Traditional Kings of Africa"). On a personal level, it is likely al-Qadhafi would like to retain that title; on a practical level, it is unclear that Libya intends to pursue that role vigorously given competing concerns. Rumors of Qadhafi's plans for the AU chairmanship likely will persist barring a strong statement from Malawi or another Southern Region member affirming their intent to assume the chairmanship. We recommend monitoring Libya's moves in both the AU and Arab League before approaching high-level officials on al-Qadhafi's intentions, as providing notice of our high-level interest may have unintended consequences for both our bilateral and multilateral interests. CRETZ