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09KHARTOUM173 2009-02-08 10:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Khartoum
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1. (C) SLM leader Minni Minawi and UN/AU Chief Mediator
Bassole had a "tough meeting" February 7 in El Fasher during
which Minawi refused to travel to Doha this week as part of
the Government of Sudan delegation, according to reports from
both Minawi and Bassole's Joint Mediation Support Team
(JMST). JMST contacts told polchief February 7 that a
visibly hostile Minawi left a gun on the table between
himself and Bassole, until the Chief Mediator politely asked
him to remove it. Minawi angrily demanded to know why he
wasn't issued a separate invitation to Doha by the Chief
Mediator in his capacity as the head of the SLM/MM movement,
rather than leaving it in the hands of the government to
invite him. (Note: Presidential Assistant Nafie Ali Nafie
called Minawi on February 6 to invite him to participate at
Doha as part of the government delegation - which is the
government's preference since Minawi is technically still the
Senior Presidential Assistant per the terms of the Darfur
Peace Agreement, which Minawi has not yet renounced even
though he has returned to Darfur. End note.) Minawi accused
Bassole of trying to sideline him in favor of a new agreement
between the government and JEM. For his part, Bassole
pressed Minawi to participate in Doha even as part of the
government delegation, and if this would not be not possible
to clarify his status either as a rebel or as part of the
government. Bassole reportedly told Minawi that "you can't
have it both ways."

2. (C) In his own read-out of the meeting by phone with CDA
Fernandez later in the day February 7, Minawi also described
the one-hour session with Bassole as a "hard meeting."
Minawi said that he wasn't consulted adequately by the
mediation or the government and demanded to know why the
invitation to Doha had not come from the Chief Mediator
himself. Minawi said he pointed out to Bassole that he had
requested a meeting six months ago to determine where he
would sit at negotiations and now it's being presented as a
fait accompli. Minawi reported that Bassole said he had
assured SLM/AW leader Abdel Wahid Nur that this round of
talks in Doha are "not meant to be comprehensive but rather
bilateral" and are a negotiation on certain specific issues
between the government and JEM such as a cessation of
hostilities. Minawi said he heard from the Qataris that one
of the agenda items is to discuss JEM prisoners that remain
in government custody since the time of the JEM attack on
Omdurman/Khartoum in May 2008 - one of which is reportedly
JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim's brother Abdel Aziz Osher. Minawi
conceded to the CDA that the Doha talks are fine with him if
they bring some relief to the people of Darfur, but the
political framework that will be presented by Chief Mediator
Bassole should not replace the Darfur Peace Agreement.
Bassole reportedly assured Minawi that he will consult with
him again after the Doha talks, perhaps on 24-25 February.

3. (C) Minawi claimed that he has JEM surrounded in East
Jebel Marra and that he has "closed the gates on them" as
JEM attempts to flee Darfur to the safety of Chad. He said
that JEM abandoned 30 vehicles along the way back between
Shangil Tobaya and eastern Jebel Marra. Minawi crowed that
many of the vehicles had run out of gas or had blown tires
and proclaimed "now they are mine." UNAMID contacts told
poloff on February 6 and 7 that JEM was fleeing along the
Tabit-Galab route through eastern Jebel Marra and that SLA/AW
appeared to be allowing JEM to pass through their areas
unimpeded but without providing any support. UNAMID
estimated that JEM might still have as many as 120 vehicles
in eastern Jebel Mara but was unable to confirm this. UNAMID
also reported that significant numbers of Arab militia had
moved into Shangil Tobaya to prevent JEM from taking the town
or using it to re-supply.

4. (C) MFA Under-Secretary Mutriff Siddiq, an NCP insider,
told CDA Fernandez on February 8, that they were very unhappy
with Minawi's attitude and refusal to attend the Doha talks.
Siddiq conceded that Minawi was probably right that talks
with JEM "are just a game, as JEM is not committed to peace
in Darfur but to taking power in all of Sudan." But still, as
the highest ranking Darfuri in the Government of National
Unity, "Minni should be present". He added that despite
SLM/MM's boycott, the NCP would share whatever result of the
Qatari meetings with Minni and would need his help in making
any cessation of hostilities and ceasefire mechanism work.

5. (C) Comment: Following its misadventure in Muhajaria, JEM

KHARTOUM 00000173 002 OF 002

appears to have fully withdrawn from South Darfur and may
have incurred some losses in the process. It appears likely
that JEM may reach some sort of security agreement with the
government in Doha, if nothing else to demonstrate that it is
currently the preeminent rebel force in Darfur (the reason it
has always demanded bilateral talks with the government in
the first place), to curry favor with weary foreigners eager
for a Darfur breakthrough and perhaps to negotiate the
release of JEM prisoners. In any event the negotiators on
both the government and JEM teams will be very familiar with
each other since Khalil Ibrahim was once a leading member in
President Bashir's National Islamic Front movement that took
power in a coup in 1989. For his part, Minawi finds himself
in a difficult situation - not wanting to relinquish his
status as the only major signatory of the DPA but refusing to
sit as part of the government delegation in peace talks.
Minawi could well become a spoiler of future peace talks if
Chief Mediator Bassole is not able to negotiate some sort of
special status for Minawi, recognizing that he is technically
part of the government but retains his own army, which was
never incorporated into the Sudanese Armed Forces due to
non-implementation of other parts of the DPA by the