wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2005-09-16 16:37:00
Embassy Paris
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 006336 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2015

Classified By: Minister Political Counselor Josiah B. Rosenblatt

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 006336


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2015

Classified By: Minister Political Counselor Josiah B. Rosenblatt

1. (SBU) Summary: Community of Sant'Egidio representatives
reviewed their diplomatic outreach in Africa during meetings
with Africa Watcher on the margins of the Community's 19th
annual congress in Lyon, France, September 11-13.
Sant'Egidio's 1992 role in brokering peace negotiations to
end the civil war in Mozambique has translated into
continuing efforts to insert the Community into African
efforts at conflict resolution. Notable areas where
Sant'Egidio's Africa cell is trying to contribute to peace
include the Great Lakes, Sudan, Togo, and Cote d'Ivoire. The
Community has lately garnered increased attention from a
French government faced with growing unrest in Francophone
Africa. End Summary.

2. (U) Africa Watcher met with key members of the
Sant'Egidio "Africa cell" during the Community's annual
congress with world religious and government leaders, held
September 11-13 in Lyon, France. The attendance of
Mozambican President Guebeza and former Portuguese President
Soares on center statge drew attention to Sant'Egidio's role
in brokering peace negotiations to end the civil war in
Mozambique in the early 1990s. (Note: Guebeza headed the
Government of Mozambique's delegation during the nearly two
years of talks in Trastevere, Rome.) French Minister of
Interior Sarkozy represented the French Government as a
keynote speaker, addressing the French model of separation of
Church and State.

Sudan: Getting to know Salva Kir, Mediating with the Beja
-------------- --------------

3. (SBU) Fabrizio Riccardi, who spearheads Sant'Egidio
efforts on Sudan, praised the achievements of U.S. policy in
reaching a peace agreement for the North-South and in
bringing a measure of stability to Darfur. Ensuring
continuity after the sudden death of John Garang was a top
priority, he said. Sant'Egidio had enjoyed a good
relationship with Garang. (Note: Riccardi, a medical doctor,
treated Garang's wife during a mi
d-90s visit. His diagnosis
of her pregnancy came as a surprise and created a bond with
Garang, who subsequently named the daughter Roma, he
claimed.) Sant'Egidio had no links to speak of to Salva Kir,
Garang's successor as SPLM/A leader and 1st Vice President of
Sudan. Working through Kir's aide Samson Kwaje, Sant'Egidio
was making overtures to host Salva Kir in Rome, with an eye
to opening a dialogue on outreach to Darfur.

4. (SBU) Riccardi said exchanges continued between Darfur
rebel leaders and Sant'Egidio, building on the May 2005
meetings in Rome organized under the aegis of the Community
in close coordination with AF/SPG. Sant'Egidio shared USG
concerns that the Abuja talks could suffer if plans for an
SLM conference within Darfur at the same time go forward. He
asserted that Sant'Egidio had conveyed that position to SLM
leader Minawi and urged, like the USG, that the SLM delay its
meetings until after Abuja, preferably immediately before
Ramadan. Fractures within the SLM were a major hurdle in
advancing the strategy on Darfur, he said.

5. (C) Turning to unrest in eastern Sudan, Riccardi proposed
that Sant'Egidio may be well-placed to launch a dialogue with
Beja rebels, partly, he claimed, because Eritrean President
Isaias Afwerki (whom Riccardi described as otherwise "raving
mad") will not feel threatened by Sant'Egidio involvement in
Asmara. Isaias visits Rome about twice a year and visits
with Sant'Egidio, according to Riccardi. Isaias's benign
attitude toward Sant'Egidio stems first and foremost from the
Community's support -- including occasional meals -- for two
former Eritrean rebel representatives present in Rome during
the "Struggle." Sant'Egidio benefited, too, from carefully
separating its approach from that of the Italian government,
which had taken an outright pro-Ethiopian stance during the
Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict, Riccardi said. Sant'Egidio's
aims with the Beja were modest, for instance organizing a
technical workshop. Sant'Egidio conveyed an initial
invitation to the Beja just over two weeks ago and the
response was encouraging.

West Africa: Inklings of the Sant'Egidio Rolodex
-------------- ---

6. (C) Mario Giro, the Sant'Egidio sherpa for West Africa,
said a number of parties to the Cote d'Ivoire unrest had been
consulting the Community. Most prominently, Cote d'Ivoire
President Gbagbo phones Giro directly almost every week, he
said. Once Gbagbo tracked down Giro in Togo and immediately
dispatched the presidential plane to fly Giro to Cote
d'Ivoire, he said, adding how surreal it felt being the only
passenger on board the jet. Everyone, including the French,
was stymied, Giro said, claiming that French Presidential
Adviser for Africa Michel de Bonnecorse calls him regularly,
and that Nathalie de La Palme, the Quai counselor and
architect of the Linas-Marcoussis accords, was traveling to
Lyon for Tuesday, September 13 discussions. Even Charles Ble
Goude, the Young Patriots militia leader, had approached
Sant'Egidio to broker a meeting with the Quai d'Orsay, but
the Quai had refused. In Giro's judgment, the present
impasse could only be broken through a dramatic move, for
instance, through USG collaboration with Sant'Egidio in
arranging meetings with the parties at a technical level --
meetings that, to be effective, should exclude the French, he
added, given Ivoirians deep hostility toward Paris.

7. (SBU) On Togo, Giro said Sant'Egidio maintained contact
with Information Minister Pitang Tchalla and was exploring
organizing another encounter between President Faure and
Olympio Gilchrist, in a sequel to the meeting arranged by
Sant'Egidio in July 2005. It was important to nurture
contact between the parties, he commented.

Great Lakes: Hope Remains on FDLR Return and Disarmament
-------------- --------------

8. (SBU) Don Matteo Zuppi, the lead Sant'Egidio Africanist,
was emphatic in his belief that there was still a chance that
the FDLR would abide by the terms of the Rome declaration,
disarm, and return to Rwanda. However, the FDLR were looking
first for assurances that, after their return, they would
have some kind of status, even if short of that of a formal
political party. The FDLR were also concerned about the
nature of any judicial investigations that might follow,
wanting their to be some provision for international or
outside controls.


9. (C) Although in public Sant'Egidio continues to showcase
its successful Mozambican mediation efforts of the early 90s,
the Community is engaged in a discreetly expanding program of
African outreach that seems to bring it into the margins of
ever more crises of interest. These dedicated personalities,
armed with a legion of mobile telephones, and enjoying a wide
measure of trust, have remarkable access across Africa, and,
it would appear, even within the French government. French
consultation of Sant'Egidio, however, should not be taken as
a complete vote of confidence. Is Bonnecorse really turning
to Sant'Egidio as a back channel or a means to float trial
balloons? Is he keeping tabs on Sant'Egidio activities and
African reactions within a region once viewed as the French
backyard? Or is he, too, hoping that Sant'Egidio's unique
approach may just happen to land the big brass ring one more
time? Despite high-level communications with Paris,
Sant'Egidio's Mario Giro bluntly advised on the benefits of
sidelining the French in Cote d'Ivoire mediation efforts.
Fabio Riccardi similarly remarked to Africa Watcher that
French ties in Chad would always disqualify France from a
leadership role in addressing Darfur. At the Quai, Bruno
Foucher, West Africa Director, reacted with interest to word
of La Palme's planned visit to Lyon, but advised that her
contacts can be ad hoc and should not be over-interpreted.
Nonetheless, French interaction with Sant'Egidio appears to
be growing, if only in recognition of the Community's own
expanding outreach into Francophone Africa. Africa Watcher
looks forward to Embassy Vatican's continued reporting on
Sant'Egidio's diplomatic activities.