Cablegate: Bemba Leaves Kinshasa for Portugal
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0419 1011003
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111003Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5945
INFO RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON IMMEDIATE 0033
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS KINSHASA 000419
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC KPKO PO CG
SUBJECT: BEMBA LEAVES KINSHASA FOR PORTUGAL
REF: A. KINSHASA 353
B. KINSHASA 375
1. (U) Senator and former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba
departed Kinshasa for Portugal aboard his private jet at 2:10
a.m. April 11. Bemba, accompanied by his wife and five
children, officially left for follow-up surgery for a broken
leg suffered in December 2006. He had been at a South African
embassy compound since March 22 during fighting between his
guard forces and the Congolese military (ref A).
2. (SBU) Arrangements for Bemba's departure were finalized
after the provisional president of the Senate, Mbueshi Kuongo
Mulendu, signed a letter to Portuguese authorities April 10
authorizing him to leave the country for 60 days for medical
care. Bemba also signed a letter last week promising not to
engage in any political activities while in Portugal.
3. (U) MONUC peacekeepers provided a security escort for
Bemba and his family en route to Kinshasa's N'Djili airport.
No incidents occurred following Bemba's departure, and the
downtown Gombe district was open for business as usual the
morning of April 11, as were all other parts of Kinshasa.
4. (SBU) Some media reports claimed the GDRC allowed Bemba to
leave after lifting an arrest warrant against him. In fact,
as reported ref B, no warrant ever was issued.
5. (SBU) Comment: There is already a great deal of
speculation about Bemba's future, most of it premature and
ill-informed. What is clear, however, is that Bemba's MLC
party now has the potential to emerge from the former vice
president's very large shadow. It is hoped party leaders will
seize the opportunity to play an active role as part of a
constructive and loyal opposition. End comment.