|06PARIS963||2006-02-14 18:41:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Paris|
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1. (C) Summary: Visiting IO/PSC Director Anderson and
Embassy Africa Watcher shared the non-paper on AMIS
re-hatting with the French Presidency and the MFA,
encouraging France to engage in a complementary effort with
AU partners (reftel). Presidential Advisor Labriolle
maintained France was on the same page -- "completely" -- as
the USG. He deferred to the MFA IO bureau to address
modalities of the transition. IO Acting A/S-Equivalent
Lacroix again confirmed French agreement on the need for AMIS
transition while explaining that the MFA was grappling with
the implications of newly-instituted French parliamentary
budget rules. The MFA would need to demonstrate close
oversight of the DPKO planning process in order to justify a
supplementary budgetary request. MFA AF DAS-Equivalent for
the Horn Le Gal again confirmed France favored AMIS
re-hatting and expressed optimism that the EU, the USG and
other donor states were working out agreements to bridge the
funding gap until a formal UN transition. End Summary.
2. (C) France was "completely" on the same page as the USG
on AMIS re-hatting, Jacques de Labriolle, deputy to Chirac's
Africa Counselor Michel de Bonnecorse, affirmed February 13
to Visiting IO/PSC Director Gerry Anderson and Embassy Africa
Watcher. He deferred to the MFA IO bureau to address
modalities of the transition; but he declared emphatically
there was no question about French support.
3. (C) In MFA meetings there were no doubts expressed as to
the appropriateness and inevitability of AMIS re-hatting.
Acting A/S Equivalent Lacroix, who was joined by
DAS-Equivalent Jean-Hughes Simon-Michel and desk officers
Clement Leclerc and German exchange diplomat Thomas
Zahneisen, treated the principle of re-hatting as a given.
Lacroix explained however that the MFA was wrestling with the
implications of new parliamentary budgetary rules that had
come into effect with the financial year beginning January 1.
The MFA had lost its previous flexibility for authorizing
peacekeeping missions at whatever point in the budgetary
cycle. As a consequence, to cover the new PKO cost for
Darfur the MFA would either need to reprogram extant funds
("and shut between fifteen to twenty embassies") or else
return to Parliament (meaning both the National Assembly and
the Senate) to seek a kind of budget "supplemental" -- an
unprecedented step. The MFA had to prepare domestic
interlocutors and lay the groundwork for the likely request,
Lacroix stressed. To that end, France wanted strict UNSC
oversight of DPKO planning to ensure an efficient mission.
(Note: Leclerc later reiterated to Africa Watcher the
complete support of France for AMIS re-hatting, calling the
comments of Labriolle at the French presidency authoritative.
He did admit that the MFA's current budgetary bind may have
an impact on the timetable for transition.)
4. (C) AF DAS-Equivalent for the Horn of Africa Helen Le
Gal treated AMIS re-hatting as established policy. She
expressed optimism that the EU, together with the U.S. and
other partners, would soon agree to respective donor packages
that would ensure continuous funding to AMIS during the
transition. Locking down the bridging funds would also
convey a message to the AU that the tenure of AMIS was now
clearly finite, she observed.
5. (C) Comment: France concurs unequivocally on AMIS
re-hatting. Moreover, our February 13 meetings saw no
mention of a need to further assuage AU sensibilities before
moving forward on the transition. However, the MFA is
fretting over new bureaucratic constraints comparable, in the
French view, to U.S. procedures for Congressional
Notification for peacekeeping authorizations. The likelihood
of sticker shock for a UN Darfur mission is also a factor.
French calls for disciplining DPKO planning on Darfur do not
constitute furtive attempts at sabotage. While it is
probable that there would be less gnashing of teeth at the
MFA if the extra peacekeeping commitment were for priority
crises in Francophone Africa, this is partly because that
would be an easier sell to the French Parliament. In any
case, the MFA remains faced by a technical and bureaucratic
challenge which will influence the comportment of the French
delegation in New York. The ensuing effort to audit DPKO
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planning on Darfur could introduce delays, at least
initially, in negotiations on AMIS re-hatting.
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