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US saw AU summit as a chance to push its interests

The United States viewed the bi-annual summit of the African Union of January 2009 as an opportunity to advance its interests or see them take significant steps backwards.

It seems Washington was interested in the crises in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Guinea and Eastern Congo.

On Zimbabwe the United States felt that the AU was restrained because it had given the mandate to solve the crisis to the Southern African Development Community which it felt had failed to resolve the issue.

Washington was now convinced that that there could not be any credible power sharing agreement between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change as long as Robert Mugabe remained the head of state.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09ADDISABABA76, USAU: US INTERESTS AT STAKE AT ADDIS AU SUMMIT,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09ADDISABABA76

2009-01-14 12:09

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Addis Ababa

VZCZCXRO6510

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO

DE RUEHDS #0076/01 0141209

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 141209Z JAN 09

FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3368

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA

RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7662

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 000076

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/RSA, AF/E, AF/W, AF/C, AF/S, AF/SPG AND

NEA/MAG

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2019

TAGS: PREL PGOV AU

SUBJECT: USAU: US INTERESTS AT STAKE AT ADDIS AU SUMMIT,

JAN. 26-FEB. 3

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN A. SIMON, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The African Union Summit in Addis Ababa

from January 26 through February 3 presents an opportunity

to advance US interests Q or see them take significant

steps backward. The crises in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan,

Mauritania, Guinea, and Eastern Congo will all likely be

items of discussion and backroom wheeling and dealing.

Preparation with key players at the Summit should begin

shortly. End Summary.

 

2. (U) The bi-annual summit of the African Union (AU)

begins January 26 with a two-day meeting of the Permanent

Representatives Committee (PRC), followed by a two-day

meeting of foreign ministers from January 29-30, followed

by the heads of state meeting in the Assembly of the Union

from February 1-3. The earlier meetings will develop

reports and recommendations for the meeting of the

Assembly, as well as endorse a number of protocols and

proposals developed through the previous year. The heads

of state usually accept those recommendations as presented.

 

3. (SBU) The official theme of the summit is

infrastructure. The global financial crisis will be a

major issue on the agenda and one day will be devoted to

the issues of union government (a Libyan initiative), but

the major crises on the continent are likely to be the

primary topics of discussion and attention at the Summit.

At issue will be whether the AU will take a more active

role in Zimbabwe, whether members will commit more support

to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and how much

pressure the AU will exert to restore constitutional order

in Mauritania and Guinea. The impending International

Criminal Court decision concerning Sudanese President

Bashir, SudanQs still-unresolved Darfur crisis, and the

ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo are also likely to

generate debate.

 

——–

Zimbabwe

——–

 

4. (C) The AU has been restrained in its approach to the

crisis in Zimbabwe by the decision at its last Summit in

Sharm El-Sheikh to delegate mediation of the crisis to the

Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Yet the

impotence of SADC to resolve the issue is clearly an

embarrassment to some members. In November, Deputy

Chairperson of the Commission Erastus Mwencha said that if

the crisis remained an issue by the time of the Summit, the

members Qwill tear him [Mugabe] apart.Q However, this is

not a universal view. Peace and Security Commissioner

Ramtane Lamamra has voiced frustration, apparently shared

by other members, with the MDC and its unwillingness to

accept the power sharing agreement as is. And the Algerian

Ambassador, the current chair of the Peace and Security

Council (PSC), recently dismissed the crisis as a Q

political disputeQ when asked if the PSC would address the

issue during AlgeriaQs chairmanship. QThere are political

disputes all over Africa,Q he said. QShould the AU

intervene in each one?Q (Comment: With such a wide

divergence in views, the Summit debate could just as easily

result in a reaffirmation of SADCQs role and approach as a

condemnation of Mugabe and a more active role for the AU.

On the one hand, many member states are impatient with

Zimbabwe; on the other hand, many are reticent to criticize

an elder statesman. End Comment.)

 

5. (C) On January 13, Deputy Chairperson Mwencha met with

SADC officials to discuss ways to push forward a

resolution, largely to diffuse the issue before the

Summit. The focus of these efforts appears to be on

gaining passage of Amendment 19 and a commitment of MDC

leader Morgan Tsvangirai to join the government before the

Summit. In a conversation with the Ambassador on January

14, Mwencha said the discussion had included the idea of

leaving the issue of control of the Home Affairs ministry

to be decided at a later date. Mwencha said a joint

AU-SADC team will go to Zimbabwe before the Summit to push

the process along. Ambassador cautioned that a settlement

will do little to resolve the crisis if it does not include

credible power-sharing with the MDC, and the United States,

among others, had lost confidence that such a credible

 

ADDIS ABAB 00000076 002 OF 003

 

 

agreement is possible if President Mugabe remains as the

head of state.

 

——-

Somalia

——-

 

6. (U) The AU Commission and the PSC have regularly called

for a UN Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia, with limited

effect. However, a strong statement from the assembled

heads of state of Africa may carry more weight with the

UNSC members. The AU Summit is also an opportunity to

raise the final three battalions required to bring AMISOM

to full strength. Burkina Faso and Ghana have very

recently expressed interest in contributing troops.

 

7. (C) At the Summit, the AMISOM troop contributing

countries as well as the Ethiopian hosts may raise issues

concerning the future of AMISOM. For instance, they may

question that if reinforcements are not forthcoming and if

the UN does not commit to a UNPKO operation, whether the

focus should be on removing AMISOM forces. After Ethiopian

forces depart Somalia, Ethiopian military officials stated

that AMISOM would face great difficulties if they are not

reinforced and do not have access to logistical support.

In such a scenario, the Ethiopians suggested that naval

forces, like CTF 150 or U.S. naval assets, could secure

Mogadishu to allow the safe and secure exit of AMISOM

forces, should that become necessary. Further, the status

of the TFG in the wake of YusufQs resignation and progress

on implementation of the Djibouti Accord may well be

debated, and the IGAD member states have well-defined

positions.

 

—–

Sudan

—–

 

8. (C) The potential ICC indictment of President Bashir may

result in the AU seeking to reiterate its strong call for

an Article 16 deferment. This had been a major issue at

the AU for some months, but our AU interlocutors now seem

to accept the unlikelihood of such a deferment. When AU

Assembly President Kikwete was at the AU in November, he

indicated in discussions with AFRICOM Commander General

Ward that Bashir had made concessions in the face of the

indictment, which the Darfur rebels had been unable to

match due to their fragmented nature. (Comment: It is

unlikely the AU “official” position on the ICC indictment

will change, and even more unlikely AU member states will

cease to see it as a threat that particularly targets

Africa. End Comment.)

 

9. (SBU) One area with regard to Sudan where the AU could

be helpful is to urge the UN to fully accept the US airlift

support required to get UNAMID equipment into Sudan as

quickly as possible. At the moment, the UN has sought to

limit use of US assets in favor of its own contractors,

which they believe are less expensive, if slower. The AU

could also issue a strong call for both sides to fulfill

their commitments to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement

(CPA) and for the GOS to follow through on its own Sudan

PeopleQs Initiative commitments.

 

———-

Mauritania

———-

 

10. (C) Per the PSC Ministerial of December 22, the

AU-sponsored sanctions are scheduled to take effect shortly

after the Summit on February 5, Qif constitutional order is

not restored.Q In a January 8 discussion, Lamamra has

noted that while the recently concluded junta-sponsored Q

National Dialogue on DemocracyQ seemed to harm the junta by

alienating the opposition party, the fact that it set a

date for elections (May 30) could convince some AU members

to ease pressure on the junta. He suggested maintaining

the AUQs firm stance may not be easy.

 

11. (C) Another issue for the Summit regarding Mauritania

is whether legitimate President Abdallahi Sidi will be

invited to take MauritaniaQs seat in the Assembly, as the

Commission recommended to the December 22 PSC Ministerial.

 

ADDIS ABAB 00000076 003 OF 003

 

 

Lamamra thought the issue could be presented by the foreign

ministers to the Assembly, but it could only be decided

once the Assembly meets. While he would not hazard a guess

on how likely it would be for the Assembly to seat

President Sidi or his representative, he noted that at the

ministerial, after much discussion, SidiQs representative

was allowed to address the meeting in the name of

Mauritania. (FYI: The June AU Summit seated Zimbabwe’s

President Mugabe, while Tsvangirai was prohibited from

traveling by Mugabe. End FYI.)

 

——

Guinea

——

 

12. (SBU) Lamamra indicated that whatever is decided on

Mauritania is likely to impact the AUQs deliberations on

Guinea, since the AU will want to appear to have a common

approach to coups dQetat. He noted two critical

differences between the two that could come into play: 1)

Guinea does not have a living legitimate President

contesting the coup; and 2) the coup leaders in Guinea have

claimed thus far that they intend to give up power

completely. Ambassador agreed that whether the coup

leaders benefit from the illegal action they have taken

should be a major factor in determining the acceptability

of any proposed settlement.

 

13. (U) The decision by ECOWAS on January 10 to suspend

Guinea from the regional organization until the military

junta holds elections and restores constitutional order

exposed a rift among AU member states. Senegal President

Abdoulaye WadeQs expressed willingness to work with the

junta and his objection to the ECOWAS decision to suspend

Guinea could presage a lively debate over a fundamental AU

principle.

 

————-

Eastern Congo

————-

 

14. (U) Prior to the start of the Assembly, there will be a

Qmini-SummitQ on January 31 on the situation in the Eastern

Congo attended by the heads of state of the Great Lakes

region. UN Mediator Olusegun Obasanjo and AU Mediator

Benjamin Mkapa will report on the progress of the current

talks. Mwencha did not indicate what the expectations of

the meeting were beyond supporting the efforts of Obasanjo

and Mkapa.

 

——–

Comment:

——–

 

15. (C) The AU Summit will have a very important impact on

issues critical to US Africa policy. Achieving US

objectives will require vigorous diplomacy, both before and

at the Summit, including during the PRC and foreign

ministersQ meetings that occur in advance of the

Assembly.   We look to Washington to provide the Q

messagingQ to be conveyed prior to and during the AU

summit. We also suggest Washington consider outreach to

key AU members, including Tanzania (the current chair of

the AU Assembly), Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, South

Africa, and other leaders of the eight AU-recognized

regional economic communities. We request copies of the

briefing papers being prepared by the appropriate Embassies

and offices on the core subjects that will be raised at the

summit Q Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Guinea and

Eastern Congo.

YAMAMOTO

 

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