|07NDJAMENA291||2007-04-04 17:15:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Ndjamena|
VZCZCXRO4863 RR RUEHROV DE RUEHNJ #0291/01 0941715 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 041715Z APR 07 FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5114 INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1674 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2146
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 000291
1. (C) Summary. NRF officials, including two ex-pat
political representatives from the UK, indicated frustration
at the slow progress of unifying the Sudanese rebels in a
meeting with them April 4. They said they see the United
States as an important friend and ally and urged diplomatic
pressure to encourage the rebel groups to unite for
negotiations on a Darfur settlement. End Summary.
2. (C) Tadjadine Bechin Niam, National Redemption Front
(NRF) Secretary for Reconstruction and Development, and also
its representative to the AU, met with Ambassador and PolOff
on 4 April. He was accompanied by Bahar Idriss Abougonda,
Vice Chairman, Secretary for Darfur; Professor Mahamoud
Suliman Abaakar, Deputy Chairman of the General Congress, and
Dr. El-Thair El-Faki, Speaker for the UK and Ireland.
Abaakar, a psychiatrist, and El-Faki, a surgeon, both based
in London, were finishing up a short trip to meet the NRF's
military forces and brief them on what the political side of
the NRF was doing, and also assisting them with medical care.
Niam emphasized that Khalil Ibrahim (now in Sudan) wanted
them to have this appointment with the Ambassador.
JEM Not Islamist
3. (C) The delegation thanked the United States for its
support, and helping to publicize the plight of the Darfur
people. They described the United States as an important
friend and ally for their movement. They claimed they were
peace-loving but that they felt war was necessary, adding
that President Bashir would not negotiate with anyone who was
unwilling to fight for their cause. They also claimed to be
"bitter" that the U.S. portrayed the JEM as an islamist or
jihadic movement, which they claimed was not in fact true.
However, they noted there had been some Islamists in the JEM
in the past, and that some JEM members have their own
"regional agenda" in addition to the JEM's national agenda.
Not Seeking Independence
4. (C) Niam stated the JEM was "happy" that the South had
achieved the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and that they
would try to help make it work. However, for the JEM, he
described its goal as a CPA without independence from Sudan.
Their objective was to remain part of Sudan, but no longer be
marginalized. One idea he proffered was for each of the six
parts of the country to take turns leading for five years, so
that no part of the country would be marginalized (Note: The
EU alternates leadership in a similar manner, but Niam's
proposal would have a 30 year cycle. End Note.).
Unification Still A Long Way Off
5. (C) Niam admitted frustration at the lack of progress in
unification, and observed that time was running out. The
delegation suspected some international organizations and
regional powers (whom they would not identify) of opposing
rebel unity and secretly supporting President Bashir. The
political leaders asked that the United States apply
diplomatic pressure on splinter groups and on these suspect
organizations and states to get them to support rebel
6. (C) Niam estimated that the NRF was about 65-70 percent
unified, but that the 13 elements within the SLA were still
fragmented. The delegation complained that there was some
NRF participation in an ongoing SLA Commanders Conference,
but that political leaders were not included along with
military leaders. Supposedly Abdul Shafi participated in the
meeting, which Khamis and Adam Bakhit claimed was "illegal."
They said Sharif Harir is also attending the meeting in a bid
to take on a leadership role. However, Niam claimed these
leaders were still working together along with Adam Shogar.
7. (C) Niam claimed the SLA wanted the chairmanship and the
military leadership of a unified rebel movement, which he
felt should rest with the JEM. He also expressed hope that
the status of things would be "clearer" in seven to ten days,
and said that a JEM-NRF joint statement would be coming out.
8. (C) The doctors noted the need to move on a political as
well as a military track, and noted that most political
leaders came from the Darfur Diaspora (Note. After the
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meeting, in response to Poloff, they indicated it had been
decades since they personally had last been in Darfur before
this visit. End note).
9. (C) Niam said the JEM had told Special Envoy Elliason
that they would accept him as a mediator. However, he said
he had warned him that the African Union (AU) has no
credibility in its view, since it "failed" by coming up with
the DPA. However, he did state that part of the DPA was
acceptable. He also claimed the JEM was ready to attack
militarily, although ready to enter negotiations. Concerning
the UN, the JEM supports a UN force only if there is a peace
treaty first (not the DPA).
10. (C) Niam once again criticized the February conference
held in Tripoli, saying there was no substantive plan; the
attendees were just 'herded' there. However, there is a
follow-on plan to continue negotiations in Eritrea.
11. (C) Niam described the GoC as "helpful" at this time,
and warned that it would be bad for the NRF's interests if
Chad were taken over by a pro-GoS regime.
Military Activities at Oure Cassoni Refugee Camp
12. (C) When questioned by Poloff about military activities
at the camp, which threatened the camp's humanitarian status
and could make it a legitimate target, the political
representatives claimed that the JEM follows the Geneva
Conventions and had in fact just trained its soldiers
therein. Niam suggested that even if such activities might
have occurred in the past, they were not occurring now.
13. (C) While the JEM genuinely appreciates U.S. support
concerning Darfur, and its political representatives said the
right things about the DPA as a starting point,and
negotiations in general, the bottom line is that rebel
unification still looks as remote as when SE Natsios
discussed it with rebel leaders back on 19 January (reftel).
The kind words for the United States expressed by these
representatives did not appear to reflect concerns or even
awareness of impending announcements of measures directed at
their leadership, but it cannot be ruled out.