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Cablegate: Kabila Makes Three-Day Surprise Visit to Goma

VZCZCXRO2193
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1139/01 2671516
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241516Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6938
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 001139

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KPKO ASEC CG
SUBJECT: KABILA MAKES THREE-DAY SURPRISE VISIT TO GOMA

KINSHASA 00001139 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: President Joseph Kabila made a three-day
unannounced visit to North Kivu province September 19-22
before beginning an extended trip to Belgium and the U.S. In
his second trip to the province since his December 2006
inauguration, Kabila called once again for all military units
to report for integration. During his stay Kabila met with
provincial military and political authorities and toured the
town of Sake, the site of recent fighting between the
Congolese military and forces loyal to renegade General
Laurent Nkunda. It is not believed Kabila met with any
Nkunda representatives. End summary.

2. (U) President Kabila made a surprise visit to North Kivu
September 19 before he was to begin an extended trip to
Belgium and to the U.S. for the UN General Assembly. The
visit was Kabila's second to the province since his December
2006 inauguration. The first visit, in December 2006, also
followed fighting between pro-government Congolese military
(FARDC) troops and forces loyal to Laurent Nkunda. Despite
his unannounced arrival, Kabila reportedly received a warm
welcome in the provincial capital of Goma, walking from the
airport to the center city with large crowds lining the
route. The president stayed in Goma until midday September
22 when he departed for his previously scheduled trip to
Brussels. (Note: Kabila had earlier planned to leave for
Brussels on September 20; no announcement of his delayed
departure was made until he returned to Kinshasa on September
22. End note.).

3. (U) Speaking to the press shortly after his arrival,
Kabila reiterated that all military forces that have not yet
reported for integration ("brassage") must do so immediately.
Stating his position was firm, Kabila promised that those
who refuse such orders will be "corrected" by the government.
He further rejected arguments -- such as Nkunda's -- that
private militias were necessary to protect local communities.
Kabila argued that such a position was invalid as there was
only one national army, whose mission was to protect all its
citizens. He further urged that all citizens and
institutions, not just himself and the central government,

4. (U) Kabila also called on FDLR fighters to return to their
homes in Rwanda. He said the militias can no longer remain
on DRC soil and must turn over their weapons. Kabila added
that if they do not do so willingly, the GDRC would disarm
the FDLR by force.

5. (U) Kabila met with a variety of local actors during his
stay, including provincial military and political officials
on September 19. He later spoke with representatives from
the humanitarian community, thanking them for their hard work
and reiterating his support for humanitarian operations in
the province. Kabila traveled to the town of Sake, 20 miles
west of Goma, on September 21 to review the area's security
situation two weeks after fighting ceased between government
and Nkunda forces. In Sake, he held a closed-door meeting
with local residents. One participant told MONUC's Radio
Okapi Kabila promised to bring peace back to the region and
to punish those who collaborate with the insurgents.

6. (SBU) Kabila's visit has received mixed, albeit
predictable, reviews in North Kivu. Former governor and
current provincial parliament member Eugene Serufuli, who met
with the president, told us Kabila was able to assure the
population he had the situation well in hand and had a plan
to eliminate the threat of negative forces. Didier Iwondo,
the head of North Kivu's immigration authority, told us
Kabila did not ask many questions during his meetings with
provincial officials and did not appear particularly
well-informed. Iwondo added, however, that he believed
Kabila now has a better appreciation of the province's
problems.

7. (SBU) Those close to Nkunda were more negative in their
assessments. Prominent local Tutsi businessman Victor
Ngezayo told us Kabila refused to meet with any
representatives from Nkunda's political party, the National
Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), or with any
groups opposed to him. Ngezayo said this showed Kabila has
little interest in hearing from all the people of North Kivu,
only those who agree with him. CNDP spokesmen argued
Kabila's visit "changed nothing" and only served to increase
tensions. They told us Kabila refused to negotiate a peace
with Nkunda and threatened "war" against those even suspected
of being associated with the renegade general.


KINSHASA 00001139 002.2 OF 002


8. (SBU) Comment: Kabila's visit to North Kivu may have been
unannounced but was certainly not uncalculated. The trip was
clearly a maneuver to shore up his support in a region that
voted overwhelmingly for him and in advance of a high-profile
international tour. The president's popularity has been
eroding since the government launched its ill-fated "mixage"
plan, and it fell further -- particularly in the
international community -- with his militaristic stance on
Nkunda and the army's poor performance against him. It is
unlikely, though, that Kabila's short stay -- with no change
in policy or attitudes -- will soon end the deteriorating
security conditions in the province. End comment.
BROCK

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