Cablegate: Darfur/Sudan: London-Based Jem Leader On Doha, Relations with the South, and Elections

Published: Tue 15 Dec 2009 04:04 PM
DE RUEHLO #2820/01 3491655
P 151655Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002820
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2019
Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville, reasons 1.4 (b/d).
1.(C) Summary. Recently returned from Doha, London-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Chair Gibril Ibrahim told Poloff Dec 15 that the civil society talks in Doha had largely been a show because the joint AU/UN mediation team had no clear objectives or strategy and did not have a clear framework for determining who in civil society should be represented. He said a London-based JEM representative was in Paris meeting with Fur leader Abdul Wahid al-Nur, at Abdul Wahid's request. While Ibrahim did not know what Abdul Wahid wanted to discuss, he said he had heard that the Fur leader may be softening his position and that he may be willing to travel to Doha for the next round of talks in later January, if the French grant him a re-entry permit. He said JEM continues to gain little traction in discussions with the SPLM, in part because the South is so politically divided, and that JEM does support elections, especially if constituencies are based on the census results. Although JEM could do nothing to stop it, he said JEM would not be in favor of a unilateral declaration of independence by the South because it reduced the number of marginalized people trying to put pressure on the NCP. JEM's relationship with Chadian President Deby has not changed, though he has been distant recently. JEM is also trying to increase its core constituency through alliance building. Ibrahim also expressed frustration that with the USG's engagement policy with the NCP, the NCP seemed to be listened to more than other partners, including JEM, and especially after it decided not to sign the cease fire agreement. End summary.
Doha: Who is Civil Society? ---------------------------
2.(C) London-based Justice and Equality Movement Chair Gibril Ibrahim told Poloff Dec 15 that the recent round of consultative talks in Qatar had been a "show." The joint AU/UN mediation team lead by Djibril Bassole had "no clear strategy or plan" for the talks. Ibrahim said JEM supports the inclusion of civil society, but it was unclear how the mediation team determined civil society participants, as the team had no "definition or criteria" for civil society, simply saying they were any groups that "do not carry arms." Ibrahim noted several major gaps in the representation, including the North Darfur administration, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), and the Diaspora. He said the declaration produced was very general and did not deal with any of the controversial issues -- "not much in it." He noted that the National Congress Party (NCP) representatives had been very well prepared and asserted that they had drafted most of the statement. He said in order to move forward with civil society as part of the discussion, there needs to be a clear definition of civil society, an agreement on representation, and an understanding what their role would be in peace talks (i.e. would they have a seat at the table?).
Talking to Abdul Wahid ----------------------
3.(C) Ibrahim said JEM representative Ahmed Hussein Adam is currently in Paris meeting with Fur leader Abdul Wahid al-Nur, at Abdul Wahid's request. Ibrahim was unsure what Abdul Wahid wanted to say but had heard that Abdul Wahid was slowly softening his position on engagement following the recent disarray and defections amongst his commanders, some of whom were looking to find a new Fur leader. Ibrahim had heard from Abdul Wahid's representatives that if the French grant Abdul Wahid a re-entry permit to France, Abdul Wahid would be willing to travel to Doha when talks resume in late January. Ibrahim said he understood from the French representative in Doha that the French were likely to grant Abdul Wahid a two-year permit that would allow him to travel outside France.
The SPLM, Elections, and Independence -------------------------------------
4.(C) Ibrahim said JEM continues to try to forge alliances with SPLM leaders, but that little progress has been made. The Southerners "are very nice, but never follow up on talks." He attributed part of JEM's inability to get traction amongst Southern leaders to the deep political divisions in the South. He said JEM had no plans to form a strategic alliance with the South during the elections because JEM is against the elections. LONDON 00002820 002 OF 002
5.(C) Ibrahim explained that JEM does not see the purpose of the elections because: (1) the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had originally called for elections so the late Southern leader John Garang could move forward the vision of a united Sudan as the national President and that is no longer possible; (2) peace does not really exist in the South and Darfur and the NCP continues to sow division in the South to make it "unrulable"; (3) the census which will determine the parliamentary constituencies was inaccurate; and, (4) there is a danger that the elections will weaken the SPLM's position vis-a-vis Khartoum, making the partnership uneven and reducing the SPLM's leverage over the NCP, which will in turn make the NCP stronger in the South and in Darfur.
6.(C) Ibrahim said the NCP is tying the elections and the referendum together. Even the South is not ready for the elections. Southern leaders do not want to delay the elections because it may resulted in a delayed referendum, which will further undermine the SPLM's political legitimacy.
7.(C) Ibrahim said if the referendum comes to a vote, there is little doubt in his mind that the South will secede. If it does not go to a vote, he thought a unilateral declaration of succession by the South was possible. He said JEM would not support this because JEM continues to support a united Sudan. In addition, with the departure of many of the ethnically African peoples, it would weaken JEM because there would be fewer marginalized people in the North. Ibrahim alluded to JEM's strategy of pressurizing the NCP by having all marginalized groups push the NCP for change. He acknowledged that JEM would not be in a position to stop the South if it did decide to secede unilaterally. He also reiterated that JEM would be prepared to accept a Southern President of a united Sudan, regardless of the candidate's ethnicity and religion.
JEM and Chad ------------
8.(C) Ibrahim said JEM's relations with Chadian President Deby "had not changed," though Deby clearly does not want to fight Sudan. He said that because Deby had shored up his own position politically in Chad and because of the international community's pressure on Deby, Deby has distanced himself from JEM.
Seeking Alliances to Broaden Support ------------------------------------
9.(C) Ibrahim explained that JEM was looking to broaden its core support and build consensus amongst leaders on the ground. He said JEM had created alliances with a number of leaders in Kordofan in recent weeks. He also said that in order to fight the government JEM did not need to control large areas of land, it only needed targets.
USG Engagement with the NCP ---------------------------
10.(C) Ibrahim expressed frustration that the USG with its new policy of engagement with the NCP seemed to listen to the NCP more than other partners. He noted that since JEM had decided not to sign the cease fire agreement, it was feeling more isolated from the USG. He said the USG needs to push the NCP more on issues and to try to understand JEM's position better. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media