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Cablegate: Parliamentary Boycott Over, Opposition Still

VZCZCXRO1423
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0518 1301527
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101527Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6101
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 KINSHASA 000518

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM CG
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENTARY BOYCOTT OVER, OPPOSITION STILL
AWAITING MEETING WITH KABILA

REF: KINSHASA 440

1. (SBU) Summary: Deputies from two parliamentary opposition
groups, including Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba's Movement for
the Liberation of Congo (MLC), ended their walk-out of the
National Assembly April 24-25. Initially promised a meeting
with President Joseph Kabila, opposition leaders have met
only with presidential advisers to prepare for an as-yet
unspecified encounter. They say they have received no
indication from the presidency such a meeting is forthcoming.
A third opposition group continues to suspend its
participation in the Assembly's plenary. End summary.

2. (U) Members of the opposition Christian Democrats (CD)
returned to the National Assembly on April 24, and MLC
secretary general Thomas Luhaka announced his party's return

SIPDIS
April 25 to end a boycott initiated April 13 following a
spate of late-night visits by armed, uniformed men to the
homes of deputies primarily aligned with the opposition
(reftel). Opposition leaders demanded that President Kabila
address their concerns and publicly condemn the attacks. The
Order of Republican Democrats (ODR), the third member of the
opposition coalition, is continuing its boycott until meeting
with Kabila.

3. (U) Leaders of all three groups met with senior presidency
advisers April 26. They initially had expected to meet with
Kabila. Instead, they were received by Minister of State to
the Presidency Norbert Nkulu and Kabila advisers Marcellin
Cishambo and Samba Kaputo. (Kabila was presiding at a two-day
session of the Council of Ministers at the time.) Luhaka, who
participated in the meeting, said the two sides discussed
potential agenda items for a future meeting with Kabila,
including the release of political prisoners and the question
of a possible judicial procedures against Bemba.

4. (SBU) MLC parliamentarian and Bemba adviser Delly Sesanga,
another meeting participant, told us May 8 that opposition
deputies have not received any word from the presidency
regarding a future presidential encounter. He said that since
April 26 they have not had any contact with Kabila's
advisers. Sesanga assured us, however, the MLC would remain
in the National Assembly but continue to press for a meeting
with Kabila.

5. (SBU) Comment: The lack of a timely follow-up Kabila
meeting is indicative of the relatively slow and rather
disordered process as new political and power relationships
are being defined. Nonetheless, there is an ongoing process.
The opposition walk-out temporarily bolstered an image of
opposition cohesiveness, but its piecemeal return to the
Assembly underscores its overall fragility. From his perch in
Portugal, former VP Bemba was seeking to maintain the boycott
but failed against prevailing counter-pressure from the
Kinshasa MPs. In practical terms, the boycott was purely
symbolic as the Assembly failed to consider any legislation
during that time. The incident is bound to influence debate
over forthcoming legislation, drafted by the MLC, concerning
the rights and status of the opposition. End comment.
MEECE

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