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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ADDISABABA738
2006-03-14 14:01:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

DARFUR - AMIS MEDIA STRATEGY NEEDS HELP

Tags:   PREL  KPKO  SU  KPAO  AU 
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VZCZCXRO8167
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #0738/01 0731401
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141401Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9539
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 000738 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/FO, AF/SPG, AF/RSA, AF/E, AF/PD.
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPKO SU KPAO AU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - AMIS MEDIA STRATEGY NEEDS HELP

REF: ADDIS ABABA 723

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.



1. (SBU) Summary/Action Request: The African Union (AU)
recognizes that its mission in Darfur, Sudan (AMIS) requires
a more proactive public outreach approach, especially in
light of the March 10 AU Peace and Security Council (PSC)
decision to approve transition of AMIS to a UN operation. AU
Spokesman for Sudan Amb. Assane Ba and Darfur Integrated Task
Force (DITF) Public Information Officer David Lemon met with
PAO, poloff and Canadian poloff March 9 to outline AMIS draft
media strategy and request that partners provide political
support, as well as equipment. Post requests Department
guidance on what support the USG is prepared to offer to
improve AMIS media strategy (see paragraph 10). End summary.



--------------------------


GETTING AMIS MEDIA STRATEGY FOCUSED


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Addis-based partners working with the AU on Darfur
have long highlighted the need to improve AMIS public
outreach. On March 9, AU Spokesman for Sudan Dr. Assane Ba
and DITF Public Information Officer David Lemon met PAO,
poloff and Canadian poloff for an exchange of views on the
AMIS draft media strategy (circulated to AF/SPG).



3. (SBU) The AU team had identified the need to properly
manage AMIS transition in the media following the expected
March 10 PSC decision. Ba and Lemon acknowledged that the AU
should also reach out to Darfur civilians in order to avoid
the impression that transition means abandonment. The
partner team noted that the AU needs to convey the message
that AMIS will redouble efforts to provide security in Darfur
during the transition period, without raising expectations of
AMIS capability.



4. (SBU) The AU and partner representatives agreed that AMIS
target audiences should include the international community,
with a focus on Arab media, press in AMIS troop contributing
countries (TCC), civilians in Darfur, and NGOs.



--------------------------


CURRENT STATE OF PLAY


--------------------------





5. (SBU) According to Ba and Lemon, AMIS has a Public
Information Unit Head in Khartoum, with one staff member.
There is also a Senior Information Officer in El Fasher. One
AMIS information officer is supporting the Darfur political
talks in Abuja. AMIS Headquarters in Khartoum issues press
releases and compiles news summaries for dissemination to a
mailing list. Ba said that AMIS holds irregular press
briefings. The AU arranged for a press tour for
international media representatives in May 2005. AU
headquarters has also circulated a CD-ROM on "The African
Union and the Conflict in the Darfur Region of the Sudan",

which contains AMIS photos and documents such as the AU
Chairperson's report on Darfur. The AU maintains a website
dedicated to AU involvement in Darfur at
www.africa-union.org/Darfur/homedar.htm, where it also posts
Cease Fire Commission Reports (albeit far too slowly).



6. (SBU) Lemon said that AMIS was granted two hours of air
time per week by the Sudanese Government. The DITF is not
briefed on radio programming content, nor has Lemon visited
the field to make contact with AMIS media experts.



--------------------------

-
GETTING THE STRATEGY UP AND RUNNING, WITH HELP


--------------------------

-



7. (SBU) Immediately following the March 10 PSC decision, the
AU organized a press conference to explain elements of the
outcome. According to Amb. Ba, the AU plans a series of op
eds on AU efforts to build peace in Sudan, a book containing
PSC decisions on Darfur, a poster series, and a media tour
for international and TCC press. The AU plans to rely
heavily on the AMIS radio segment, or to establish its own
broadcasting system.



8. (SBU) Amb. Ba emphasized the importance of public partner
political support for AMIS and AU-led mediation in Abuja.
Lemon cited the need for broadcasting equipment and media
personnel with local language expertise.



9. (SBU) Comment/Action Request: Based on AU and NGO
descriptions, AMIS media posture to date has been largely

ADDIS ABAB 00000738 002 OF 002


reactive, rather than proactive. The March 10 PSC decision
to accept transition of AMIS to a UN mission is positive, but
creates additional challenges for the AU's public image. The
future of AU-led peacekeeping requires highlighting AMIS
success and portrayal of the transition as a natural process.
Populations in Darfur must also be reassured that AMIS is
not abandoning them, and informed of AMIS mandate. A
proactive media strategy for AMIS and the AU-led Abuja talks
will also help facilitate the transition process and delivery
of necessary, but ever sensitive, partner assistance to the
AU.



10. (SBU) The AU is in many ways starting from ground zero
when it comes to public outreach. Former AU Spokesperson
Desmond Orjiako highlighted severe short-staffing and
technical constraints as major obstacles to AU proactivity.
Amb. Ba and Lemon indicated that proactive AMIS media
strategy still needs to be sold politically to AU leadership,
and requested partner assistance. Post requests Department
guidance on how the USG may be able to help the AU take
control of its public image on Darfur, including through
provision of equipment or technical assistance. Other AU
partners are also considering assistance, but Post recommends
a coordinated assistance package for proposal to the AU
soonest. Addis-based heads of mission will soon meet with AU
Peace and Security Commissioner Djinnit to press for progress
on key issues to render AMIS more effective. One of these
points will relate to AMIS media posture. End comment/action
request.
HUDDLESTON