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Cablegate: Kinshasa Update 3/27: Kabila Defends Actions

VZCZCXRO6553
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0370/01 0861454
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271454Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5870
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000370

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC KPKO MOPS CG
SUBJECT: KINSHASA UPDATE 3/27: KABILA DEFENDS ACTIONS
AGAINST BEMBA

REF: KINSHASA 361 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) Summary: President Kabila defended the use of force
against Jean-Pierre Bemba's guard forces in a March 26 press
conference, declaring that "order had to be restored at all
cost." Bemba, who remains in the South African embassy
compound, said in a press interview Kabila is determined to
get rid of him and claimed he will leave the country if his
security cannot be guaranteed. Elements of Bemba's guard in
his home province of Equateur have signaled to military
officials their willingness to integrate. Congolese economic
officials are reviewing potential relief measures in the wake
of looting during the March 22-23 fighting. End summary.

2. (U) President Kabila made his first public statements on
the March 22-23 fighting in Kinshasa between elements of the
Congolese military (FARDC) and Senator and former Vice
President Jean-Pierre Bemba's guard forces. In a
nationally-televised press conference from the presidential
offices, Kabila defended the use of force, saying "order had
to be restored at all cost." Kabila portrayed the dispute
with Bemba as military rather than political. He added that
Bemba had attempted to put himself above the law, and
reiterated an earlier statement by the Council of Ministers
March 24 that judicial procedures had been started against
the former vice president.

3. (U) In an interview published by "Le Monde" March 26,
Bemba charged Kabila is determined to "get rid" of him and
to silence the political opposition. He claimed the FARDC
attack against him and his guard forces was planned in
advance and meant to avoid any negotiations over the size of
his security detail. Bemba said that if he does not receive
sufficient guarantees for his security, he will go into exile.

4. (SBU) Bemba remains with his wife and children at the
South African embassy compound. Bemba's interview with "Le
Monde" apparently violated an agreement he had with his hosts
to cease press interviews from his location. South African
Embassy officials also told us there are no immediate plans
for South African Minister of Local and Provincial Government
Sydney Mufamadi to travel to Kinshasa.

5. (SBU) Members of Bemba's guard force in his home province
have indicated to military officials their willingness to
integrate into the FARDC. MONUC officials report Bemba forces
have been turning themselves in to FARDC and MONUC officials
in Mbandaka and Gemena. Embassy contacts in Equateur told us
Bemba guard commander Captain Jose Ewale released a statement
March 26 in Gemena saying his forces were ready to integrate.
FARDC Land Forces Commander General Gabriel Amisi is meeting
Bemba's forces in Gemena and Gbadolite this week to discuss
the options of integration and demobilization.

6. (U) Bemba's Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC)
party issued a statement March 26 condemning the March 22-23
violence and "threats" against Bemba. The communique, signed
by MLC Secretary General Francois Mwamba, conveyed the
party's regret that violence prevailed over dialogue and
urged that a political solution be found to the crisis. The
MLC stated it will remain committed to the political process
as a strong and republican opposition.

7. (SBU) The Kinshasa business community suffered extensive
losses as a result of the violence -- in some cases from
physical property damage and looting, in addition to the loss
of business over several days. The most serious damage
occurred on and around Gombe's main Boulevard de 30 Juin,
where some of the most serious fighting took place. Looting
was reported at some Gombe residences, and several offices,
including the Central Bank building, were damaged by mortar
and weapons fire. Several stores along the boulevard,
especially those selling easily portable items like cell
phones and clothing, were the hardest hit according to
Embassy contacts. The Ministry of Economy is trying to assess
total losses, but it is too early to determine the impact on
investment and local commerce. The Federation of Congolese
Businesses is expected to meet March 28 with the GDRC's
economic and financial ministries to discuss temporary
business relief measures.

8. (U) European Union Great Lakes Special Envoy Roeland Van
de Geer met with Kabila and Prime Minister Gizenga March 26.
Van de Geer said he was concerned by the events of March
22-23 but pleased with Kabila's efforts to consolidate

KINSHASA 00000370 002 OF 002


democracy. He added he was confident in the future of the RDC
and encouraged a frank dialogue among all Congolese to put an
end to the current crisis. Van de Geer, who had finished his
first visit to the DRC March 20, returned to Kinshasa from
Kampala to review the situation.

9. (SBU) French Cooperation Minister Brigitte Girardin, who
signed a 200 million Euro development agreement with the GDRC
March 24, met with Kabila during her brief Kinshasa visit.
According to French diplomatic officials, Kabila told
Girardin that Bemba had passed the limits of acceptable
behavior and be brought to justice. Girardin also spoke by
phone March 24 with Bemba, who indicated his unwillingness to
go before the Congolese courts.

10. (U) The chiefs of mission of EU members states in
Kinshasa released a declaration March 27 expressing their
"indignation" following the violence and condemning the
violations committed by both sides. Deploring the loss of
life, they called the military's use of force premature and
unsuited for achieving the objective of disarming Bemba's
forces. The chiefs of mission said their primary concerns are
the victims and the future of the Congolese people, and noted
as well the serious violation of international norms,
including the protection of diplomatic missions and personnel.

11. (SBU) The "P3-plus-two" chiefs of mission (U.K., U.S.,
France, South Africa, and Belgium) will meet at 1700 with
SRSG Swing to discuss the current situation.
MEECE

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