Cablegate: Scenesetter for Visit of Ambassador Randall Tobias


DE RUEHKI #0482/01 1171156
O 271156Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is
slowly feeling its way toward solutions to fundamental
governance and development challenges following historic 2006
national elections. The Department's decision to identify
the DRC as a priority assistance country reflected the
achievements to date, the promise of the peace and
democratization processes, and the importance of the DRC as
the linchpin of Central Africa and beyond. Your visit,
following recent travel to the DRC by the French and British
cooperation ministers, the Belgian foreign minister, the UN
deputy secretary general, and the associate director of the
UN Development Program, will underscore U.S. commitment to
the goals of governing justly and democratically, peace and
security, economic growth, humanitarian assistance, and
investing in people. End summary.

The challenges

2. (SBU) Your May 6-8 visit to the Democratic Republic of
the Congo comes at a key point following a difficult
transition from dictatorship, mismanagement and devastating
wars. This situation calls for continued and sustained U.S.
commitment to maintain stability and promote economic
development. There are important successes on which to
build, but major challenges remain, and the performance
record since elections thus far has been mixed.

3. (SBU) Historic presidential and parliamentary elections
in 2006, the first free vote in some 40 years, produced a
government which is only slowly seeking its way toward
solutions to fundamental governance, development, and
security challenges. Although mitigated by the presence of
MONUC, the UN's largest peacekeeping operation, security
remains a major problem. Human rights violations are common,
and impunity is widespread. The country, as large as all of
western Europe, is rich in natural resources, but needs to
develop the infrastructure, skills, and accountable
institutions to ensure those resources benefit the
population. Poverty remains endemic, and health, education
and other social services are nearly non-existent.

4. (SBU) Corruption, deeply entrenched during decades of
misgovernment, remains a problem in all sectors. A serious
budget shortfall exacerbates the challenges for a
newly-installed democratic government to meet popular
expectations of change heightened by the success of the 2006
elections. Lastly, renewed violence in March and related
political events have broadly raised questions as to whether
the DRC's leaders are committed to democracy, or the country
risks sliding backwards. (Note: President Kabila and close
aides have expressed considerable resentment of criticism
coming from the international community in the wake of March
violence, complicating the DRC's foreign relations and needed
partnership with donors. End note.)

5. (SBU) The Department's 2006 decision to identify the DRC
as one of seven priority assistance countries in Africa
reflected the importance of achievements already made, and of
the democratization process underway to promote regional
stability and development. The Mission's overriding policy
goals focus on implanting a culture of democracy and
accountable governance, while promoting broad economic
development in a stable Congo at peace with its neighbors and
itself. Our assistance program fully supports and reflects
the Secretary's transformational diplomacy goals. The F 2006
budget for DRC programs totaled $68m, including funds
received from central accounts but excluding IFDA.
Comparable figures for 2007 have fallen to $46m, but are set
to rise in 2008 to $80.2m. We appreciate the strategic and
transformational nature of the projected budget figures,
which will provide resources appropriate to the DRC's needs.

6. (SBU) Your visit, following recent travel by the French
and British cooperation ministers, the Belgian foreign
minister, the UN deputy secretary general, and the deputy
chief of the UN development program, will highlight ongoing
Mission efforts to develop and sustain partnerships that
support USG goals in five key program areas: Governing
Justly and Democratically, Peace and Security, Economic
Growth, Humanitarian Assistance, and Investing in People.

Governing Justly and Democratically

7. (SBU) The July and October 2006 national and provincial
elections signaled the end of the Transition Government
created in 2003 to put an end to years of strife during what
came to be called Africa's World War. Joseph Kabila was
inaugurated as president in December. Antoine Gizenga, a
former associate of independence figure Patrice Lumumba,
became prime minister, and the National Assembly approved his
five-year program and 59-member ministerial council in
February 2007. The constitution promulgated in February 2006
provided for election of eleven provincial governments, which
are in the early stages of organization.

8. (SBU) The new institutions have been marked so far by
indecision and an apparent lack of urgency. The challenges
they face in establishing accountable democratic institutions
are immense. Authoritarianism and corruption have been
endemic for decades. "Good governance" is a slogan at best,
citizens are inexperienced at holding their representatives
accountable, the judicial system is dysfunctional, and there
are significant abuses of human rights.

9. (SBU) USG programs for FY2007 aim to support good
governance and institutional reform. They focus on combating
corruption and human rights abuses, developing independent
judicial and legislative institutions, and facilitating
decentralized state authority. Their objectives incorporate
longer-term reforms as well as direct citizen access to

10. (SBU) We continue to work with National Assembly
deputies on drafting key legislative proposals, including
laws relating to the political opposition, financing of
political parties, decentralization, establishment of a
national elections commission and protection of human rights.
We have also conducted capacity-building seminars for
deputies and staff members, supported creation of provincial
watchdog and advocacy groups to encourage citizen
participation in democratic processes, and worked to develop
skills of political party members, foster grassroots
anti-corruption initiatives and establish mobile courts and
legal aid clinics. Our GDJ budget for FY2008 is $20m, a
nearly 100 per cent increase from $10.2m in FY2007.

Peace and Security

11. (SBU) The security situation remains precarious in many
areas, particularly in the eastern provinces. The Congolese
military suffers from weak command and control, corruption,
poor operational planning and administrative and logistical
capacity, limited training, questionable loyalty on the part
of some of its troops, and a troubling record of human rights
violations. Troops are poorly paid, when they receive
salaries at all. Border and customs controls are inadequate,
and the capacity of the Congolese police urgently needs to be

12. (SBU) Donor-funded security sector reform (SSR) and
disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs
have achieved mixed success at best, and low-level conflict
remains in many eastern areas. The government has abandoned
established military integration protocols in the province of
North Kivu in favor of an alternative process of "mixing"
dissident and government troops into combined units that
largely sustain their ethnic "identity" and that have added
to fears of insecurity in the region.

13. (SBU) PS programs currently focus on reintegration of
ex-combatants, conflict management, officer training, and
destruction of obsolete ordinance. Our reintegration efforts
in North Kivu and northern Katanga are jointly funded with
the World Bank; a third program, targeting ex-militia
fighters in the Ituri District of Orientale Province, is a
multi-donor initiative. We are implementing four conflict
management programs, in Orientale, South Kivu and Maniema
provinces. Our media support program (which you will visit
in South Kivu) is a country-wide effort with an emphasis on
the eastern areas of the country. A training program for
brigade-level officers is ongoing in Kinshasa; upon
completion, officers will be deployed to integrated brigades
around the country. IMET funds U.S.-based courses that
include English-language training. NADR currently funds
destruction of obsolete ordinance in Equateur and Katanga.

14. (SBU) Although USG involvement in security sector reform
has received relatively limited funding, we anticipate
additional activities in the near future. Thanks to $5m in

funding provided in the 2006 Iraq Supplemental, we are
rehabilitating the officer training academy, providing
officer training, and making significant investment in the
military justice system. For FY2008, $8.4m already allocated
from FMS, INCLE, NADR and PKO funds will enable greater
involvement in SSR activities including, for the first time,
police training.

Economic Growth

15. (SBU) The Congolese people have not benefited from the
natural resource wealth of the country because of protracted
war, civil disturbances, mismanagement and corruption.
However, the promise of post-election stability has generated
renewed multilateral and bilateral commitments. The
government is moving toward implementation of the Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approved in mid-2006 by the
World Bank and IMF executive boards. Its five-year program
is based on the PRSP and includes a Good Governance plan
covering the remainder of 2007. It focuses on addressing
five "chantiers" (literally "construction sites") identified
by President Kabila: infrastructure, employment, education,
water/electricity and health.

16. (SBU) Anticipated, major shortfalls in the
yet-to-be-drafted 2007 budget and reduced external budgetary
support will make it difficult for the government to achieve
its objectives. However, the World Bank has just approved
$180m in emergency funds, approximately half of which will be
used for urban infrastructure in Kinshasa, with the remainder
allocated to Ministry of Education programs and for domestic
debt payments. The Bank also recently announced a nearly
$300m rehabilitation package for parastatal hydroelectric
plants at Inga. Further discussions will take place at the
DRC Consultative Group meeting currently planned for June.

17. (SBU) The IMF suspended its regular stabilization
program in March 2006, leading to the loss of some $40m per
month of Central Bank reserve support and of nearly $200m in
outside budget support. GDP growth for 2006 was less than
six percent, with GDP per capita close to $100: at current
rates, it will take until 2060 for per capita income to reach
pre-independence levels. Excessive public spending in 2006
contributed to a budget deficit of over $50m, an already
burdensome national debt and inflation of over 20 per cent.
The government expects to present a draft budget to
Parliament by mid-May, with the hope of having it approved
before mid-June. Estimates from the Ministry of Plan are
that the budget will be around $2.4bn, with more than half
needing to come from outside funding sources.

18. (SBU) USG programs in support of economic growth are
currently relatively modest, and focus on agriculture.
Programs include $1.4m to raise and distribute
virus-resistant cassava, a regional effort to combat cassava
virus and banana wilt, and $1.2m to revive palm oil, coffee,
rubber and cacao production and commerce by small-scale
farmers. We have also developed a social marketing campaign
to prepare for and combat the effects of avian flu. We are
working with mining firms in a Global Development Alliance to
improve livelihoods of families of their employees, former
informal-sector miners, and surrounding villages. Funding
for economic growth will increase to $10m annually in FY2008,
and we plan to launch an expanded cassava virus program and
support women's small enterprise development and access to
credit for cassava production.

19. (SBU) The Mission also manages the Central African
Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE), a conservation
initiative to slow loss of biodiversity and tropical rain
forest in the nine countries of the Congo River basin. In
the DRC, CARPE works in seven priority "landscapes,"
including the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in South Kivu and
the Virunga National Park in North Kivu, which have the
highest rate of biodiversity in the region. The U.S. has
contributed $50m to CARPE to date, with other donors
collectively funding an equal amount.

Humanitarian Assistance

20. (SBU) Four million people have died as a consequence of
10 years of war and conflict. Low-level combat continues to
cause large-scale population displacements, particularly in
eastern areas of the country. Many social and economic

support structures have collapsed as a result of neglect,
corruption and lack of resources, leaving victims without
livelihoods, access to medical services and in many cases,
places to live.

21. (SBU) Disaster relief and food assistance funds
represent approximately one-half of all U.S. foreign
assistance to the DRC. Total non-food IDFA funding in FY2006
was $26m. OFDA provides transportation and a start-up cash
package to returning IDPs, and is mounting labor-intensive
road rehabilitation programs. We also fund emergency health
programs and water and sanitation supply in conflict areas,
particularly in South Kivu, and distribution of seeds and
tools in Ituri District and northern Katanga. The USG
provided $36m of food assistance in 2006, most channeled
through the World Food Program for distribution in conflict
areas. If current trends continue, most emergency health
activities will be transferred to developmentally-based
health programs at the end of 2007.

Investing in People

22. (SBU) Social indicators are dismal: the DRC ranked
167th out of the 177 countries in the 2006 UNDP Human
Development Report. Seventy-five per cent of the population
lives on less than one dollar a day. Infant mortality is 212
per thousand. Less than 25 per cent of girls graduate from
primary schools.

23. (SBU) USG programs focus on primary health care, primary
education and protection of vulnerable groups. Health is our
largest development effort. USAID has made a four-year, $12m
commitment for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, CDC funds
surveillance and pediatric HIV/AIDS programs, DOD has
programs for military prevention and care, and State has an
innovative public diplomacy program to increase HIV/AIDS
awareness. We plan to program over $55m for primary
pediatric health care in 82 rural health zones over the next
three years, and continue to support national tuberculosis
and polio eradication efforts.

24. (SBU) We are currently implementing programs to
facilitate access to and upgrade primary education, with a
particular focus on girls. The Ambassador's Girls
Scholarship Program provides 18,000 girls with primary school
scholarships. USAID grantees provide teacher training in
Equateur, Bas Congo, Bandundu and South Kivu provinces. The
USG also works with other donors including UNICEF and the
World Bank to responsibly reduce or eliminate Congolese
school fees, and plans to distribute 50 tons of materials and
supplies to primary schools and pupils this year. The
Mission also funds a holistic program in eastern provinces to
respond to the needs of rape victims. We are currently
funding NGOs working to prevent and deal with child
abandonment in Kinshasa and Eastern Kasai province.

Leverage and donor coordination

25. (SBU) USAID currently co-funds a number of
non-traditional partnerships which are bringing outside
resources to bear on pressing development challenges. These
include investment in commodity processing and marketing with
agricultural marketing firms, corporate social responsibility
with mining multinationals, and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
The USG is also an active participant in the Country
Assistance Framework (CAF) process to align major donors' DRC
assistance strategies during 2007-10 and support government
efforts to implement the PSRP.

A message of partnership

26. (SBU) We welcome your visit, which comes at an opportune
time to encourage the government to build on its democratic
gains, and urgently address the expectations of the Congolese
people. We ask that you help us to reinforce the following

-- The United States supports establishing in the DRC a
culture of democracy, which will best ensure the country's

-- Democracy is the open competition of ideas and

policies, and therefore the rights of the political
opposition must be guaranteed. For its part, the opposition
must act responsibly and remain loyal to democratic
principles and elected institutions.

-- The government should take immediate and tangible
action to provide basic services to the people, provide
economic stability, end corruption, and thereby encourage
investment and growth. An elected government is accountable
to the voters. This is what good governance is all about.
The international community will help.

-- It is imperative that the army and police act
professionally, provide domestic security and respect human
rights. Their abuses must stop in order to maintain the
goodwill of the international community.

We are confident that adding your voice to these messages
will help the leaders of the DRC make their country a valued


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