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Cablegate: Kinshasa Update: Situation in Capital Returning To

VZCZCXRO5317
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0361 0851142
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261142Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5860
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 3870
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000361

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC KPKO MOPS CASC CG
SUBJECT: KINSHASA UPDATE: SITUATION IN CAPITAL RETURNING TO
NORMAL

REF: A. PRETORIA 1053
B. KINSHASA 360
C. KINSHASA 357 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) The central Gombe district of Kinshasa remains calm
four days after fighting broke out between elements of the
Congolese military (FARDC) and guard forces of Senator and
former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba. There have been no
reports of fighting since early morning on March 24. Vehicle
traffic, including public transportation, was moving normally
in Gombe the morning of March 26 and businesses were open.
There is a reduced presence of Congolese security forces on
the streets, with some elements of the Republican Guard,
Congolese police and FARDC remaining near Bemba's former
official residence on Boulevard de 30 Juin and his private
riverside residence.

2. (U) All USG personnel in country are accounted for. There
have been no reports of any AmCits injured in the violence.
The American School several miles west of Gombe is open. The
French and Belgian schools, located near the main area of
fighting March 22-23, are closed for clean-up operations will
reopen March 27.

3. (SBU) Bemba remains at the South African embassy compound
where he and his wife have been since the evening of March
22. Bemba's children, who had been at the Belgian school,
have since been moved to the South African compound. Sydney
Mufamadi, South Africa's Minister of Local and Provincial
Government, who was appointed by President Mbeki as his envoy
(ref A), has not arrived in the DRC.

4. (U) President Kabila chaired a meeting of the Council of
Ministers March 24. The Council declared in a communique that
the government was in control of the situation and encouraged
the population to go about normal activities. It stated that
judicial proceedings were being started against Bemba as well
as the "mutinous" officers and soldiers. The Council
expressed its regrets to those who lost loved ones and
congratulated the FARDC and police for quickly restoring
order.

5. (U) The Council's communique, signed by Minister of
Information Toussaint Tshilombo, gave a preliminary count of
60 killed and 74 injured, pending further investigation. The
humanitarian organization Caritas estimated March 25 around
150 killed and 148 wounded based on surveys of local
hospitals and the central morgue. International Red Cross
officials told us March 26 they had observed more than 100
dead in city mortuaries and more than 100 wounded in local
hospitals.

6. (U) The National Assembly's executive secretariat met
March 24 with leaders of the Assembly's political groupings,
including MLC Secretary General and group president Francois
Mwamba and MLC Executive Secretary Thomas Luhaka, to discuss
the March 22-23 fighting. The conference released a unanimous
communique condemning the clashes and calling for sanctions
against those who looted or committed other acts of violence.
The Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session March 26
and create a special commission to examine the causes of the
violence.

7. (U) UNHCR has reported more than 40 members of Bemba's
guard force fled their camp at Maluku just north of Kinshasa
across the Congo River to Brazzaville. An initial group of
about 100 arrived in Brazzaville March 23, followed by a
smaller group of 54 March 24. A total of 44 are believed to
be members of Bemba's guard force; the remainder are family
members who lived with the soldiers at Maluku. UNHCR
officials are providing the refugees with blankets and other
provisions.

8. (SBU) The Ambassador participated in a March 25 meeting
with SRSG Swing and "P3 plus two" chiefs of mission (U.K,
France, U.S., Belgium, and South Africa), and follow-up
action is being taken, including requests for a joint
demarche with President Kabila and then with Prime Minister
Gizenga.

9. (SBU) Post had an extended Emergency Action Committee
meeting on March 26 (ref B).
MEECE

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