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Cablegate: Violent Clashes Between Police and Political- Religious

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O 111131Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7353
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS KINSHASA 000025

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PINS PTER PREL CG
SUBJECT: VIOLENT CLASHES BETWEEN POLICE AND POLITICAL- RELIGIOUS
SECT


1. (U) Summary: Clashes between police and members of the
political-religious sect Bundia dia Kongo (BDK) on January 5 in
Bas-Congo Province left at least six people dead and dozens more
injured. The violence is the latest manifestation of tension
between the BDK and the Congolese government. The BDK, a mysterious
and secretive sect which mixes mysticism, political activism, and
Bakongo nationalism, has as its stated goal the establishment of a
"Bakongo Kingdom" encompassing Bas-Congo Province as well as parts
of Angola, the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville, and Gabon. The
ongoing tension presents still another challenge to the government
of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its goal of achieving peace
and unity in a country where the threat of ethnic separatism remains
a reality. End Summary.

2. (U) On January 5, Congolese police clashed with supporters of the
BDK in Vanga, Bas-Congo Province. The BDK had apparently kidnapped
a policeman in an attempt to force the release of BDK militants held
by security forces. When the police attempted to rescue their
colleague, five BDK supporters were crushed under a police vehicle
when they refused to get out of the way, and one agent of Congo's
national intelligence agency (Agence Nationale de Renseignement) was
also killed. Other violent incidents in recent years involving the
BDK and its supporters include clashes in January-February 2007
following the BDK's protests against alleged corruption during
gubernatorial elections which resulted in more than 100 deaths,
violent protests in the port city of Matadi in 2006 over alleged
favoritism in hiring shown to persons originating outside of
Bas-Congo at the expense of natives, and clashes in July 2002
following the BDK's refusal to cancel an unauthorized ceremony to
celebrate the "40th anniversary of the Central Kongo Province
Foundation" which killed approximately forty people.

3. (U) Comment: While the BDK is small in numbers, with an
estimated 200 hard-core members, it wields significant influence in
Bas-Congo province due to the large number of BDK sympathizers and
supporters among the Bakongo people, the largest ethnic group in
Bas-Congo Province, and the fact that its spiritual leader, Ne
Mwanda Nsemi, is an elected member of the National Assembly. If the
level of violence escalates, it could present a serious challenge to
the central government, which is currently preoccupied with armed
insurgencies in North Kivu. The BDK's ethnocentric and separatist
agenda is worrisome given the Congo's fragile national unity and
history of attempted secession along ethnic lines. End Comment.

Garvelink

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