Cablegate: Goma Report for January 11-13 - Ethnic Groups

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E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report for January 11-13 - ethnic groups
get their say; convergence to go after FDLR

1. (SBU) Summary: The Kivus Conference is moving toward the end of
its lengthy plenary phase. Ethnic communities and armed groups in
both Kivus have, for the most part, had their say and the more
difficult phase of bringing them together on a concrete way forward
will soon begin. Amid the sometimes hateful language and many
divergences, there were points of convergence, in particular, all
parties' wish to deal with the FDLR. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Kivus Conference is still projected to conclude
January 20, even though the plenary sessions are stretching beyond
the original estimate. The presentations by ethnic communities
finally got under way on January 11 with speeches by representatives
of North Kivu communities, as well as an important speech by
Presidential Advisor Ngwej on the plan to deal with the FDLR, and a
speech by Tim Shortley, Senior Adviser to Assistant Secretary
Frazer, who had arrived January 10. On January 12, the South Kivu
communities began their speeches, which were ever lengthier and
carried over to half of January 13. The armed groups of North Kivu,
starting with CNDP, had their say on the afternoon of January 13.
Armed groups from South Kivu will speak on January 14 and may carry
over to January 15, meaning that the time for discussion at the
level of workshops will be compressed (assuming that the closing
date of January 20 is maintained).

North Kivu Ethnic Groups

3. (SBU) The twelve North Kivu speeches on January 11 were a mix of
good and bad, though most communities made an effort to get into the
conciliatory mood of the Conference. The main exception was the
Hundes and Niangas of Walikale and Masisi Territories, who were
aggressively hostile toward the Tutsis, disputing the Tutsis'
Congolese nationality and seeking to reserve for themselves a
territory where, effectively, no other Congolese could enter without
their approval. The Hutu spokesman, on the other hand, reserved his
ire for the Nandes from northern North Kivu, while calling for
return of all refugees (including Tutsi). The Pygmy speaker
reminded the audience (now grown to over 1,000 Conference
participants) that the Pygmies were the original inhabitants and had
suffered more than anyone else. The Tutsi, being last
alphabetically, spoke last, to a largely silent but respectful
audience, emphasizing their victimization over several decades. He
called for a special territory or zone of protection for the Tutsis
within North Kivu and a system of quotas for Tutsis in government
and military positions, the only occasion in his speech that the
audience reacted with loud "Nos."

4. (SBU) Common elements in these speeches were a call for
restoring the authority of the state, condemnation of the army as a
major human rights violator and call for its reform, call for
brassage of all armed groups, and the importance of finding a way to
get the ex-FAR/Interahamwe (FDLR) to go back to Rwanda. The name
Nkunda was only mentioned once, but all speakers talked about FDLR.
There was mostly agreement on the need for return of Congolese
refugees, so long as those are properly identified, including input
from village chiefs. Afterward, international community observers
debated whether the exercise had done more good than harm. They
concluded that it had been a cathartic event, for the most part
moderate, and therefore a good thing.

Government reiterates call for action against FDLR
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) Presidential Advisor Ngwej gave a lengthy afternoon
discourse on the government's plan, submitted to Rwanda December 1,
to repatriate ex-FAR/Interahamwe (FDLR) as required under the
Nairobi Communique. Ngwej's presentation essentially initiated the
non-military component of the December 1 plan. Ngwej, a Katangan,
was one of the few non-Kivusians to address the Conference, but he
did a convincing job. The thrust was that all the people of the
Kivus had to join together in this two-month period of
"sensitization" (awareness-raising) during which the FDLR could
voluntarily go to transfer centers and be repatriated to Rwanda or
outside the Kivus. He noted that 30 percent of the 6,000 FDLR
elements were Congolese, and he focused particular importance on the
Conference as a "sensitization" vehicle. The voluntary phase would
end in mid-March, whence would begin the military phase. He said
that, contrary to claims by some Congolese, Rwanda's reinsertion
program was effective. "Rwanda has made considerable efforts, and
life in the bush here is unjustifiable." The threat of FDLR to
Rwanda was "real," while to Congolese it was "constant." If there
were a need for inter-Rwandan dialogue, that was an issue solely for
Rwanda not for DRC; DRC just needed the FDLR to go home. DRC would
turn over any FDLR elements pursued by international justice, as DRC

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wanted nothing to do with genocidaires.

6. (SBU) International observers agreed among themselves afterward
that, while there was not the slightest chance that DRC would be
militarily prepared to take on the FDLR (the most powerful and
widespread armed group in the Kivus) any time soon, Ngwej had spoken
well and at a key moment, helping to galvanize Kivusians on this
subject. Foreign Minister Mbusa told the observers that it would be
best for Conference president Abbe Malu Malu, who was a precious
resource that should not be overused, not to engage the FDLR
leadership now in talks, but that rather such a role would be
assumed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Special advisor Shortley delivers message

7. (SBU) The final presentation of the day came from U.S. Senior
Adviser to Assistant Secretary Frazer, Tim Shortley. He emphasized
the importance of the Conference and the urgency of acting now to
end armed conflict in the Kivus. He called for a durable ceasefire
and highlighted the international community's willingness to support
reconstruction in post-conflict Kivu. Malu Malu concluded the day
with an emotional gesture, calling the 14 CNDP delegates -- who were
present in the cramped grand hall and not, as they had been, in one
of the ancillary rooms connected by television -- to come forward
and be recognized, which they were with tepid applause.

8. (SBU) The spokespersons for the South Kivu ethnic groups spoke
at much greater length January 12 than had their North Kivu
counterparts the previous day, and the spirit was less moderate.
The Bembe and Fulero relentlessly attacked the Tutsis/Banyamulenge
as being not Congolese, while the Buyu and Bwali attacked the Bembe.
The Banyamulenge speaker gave a polished address, more articulate
than the others, calling for an end of demonization of, and
discrimination against, Tutsis and the creation of a separate
administrative territory for the Banymulenge. Most speakers went
into history at great length, picking and choosing from Belgian
archives "facts" most suitable to themselves.

9. (SBU) Speaking to international observers afterward, Malu Malu
said that the Banyamulenge, Bembe, and Fulero constituted a
"triangle of hatred," to which other South Kivusian ethnicities
aligned themselves. He would ask President of the National Assembly
Kamerhe (a South Kivusian and president of the Conference's Wise
Men's Committee) to give particular attention to this triangle.
Mbusa urged the international observers to talk to Azarias Ruberwa,
a key Banyamulenge member of the Wisemen's Committee, to persuade
the Banyamulenge against pushing for a separate territory; Mbusa
said that this demand that would take the Kivus in the wrong

10. (SBU) Malu Malu said that he hoped the Conference would make
progress on nationality issues. It was necessary for the Conference
to agree, first, that all Congolese were "equally Congolese" with
equal rights, even if they had just arrived and just acquired
Congolese citizenship, and second, that all Congolese should have
the right to circulate and live anywhere in the country. Mbusa
pointed out that the new constitution should have resolved these
issues, but the Ministry of Justice, like the whole state apparatus,
was so weak and corrupt that nationality status went to the highest
bidder or according to ethnic prejudice.

Special Envoys Meet on Nkunda

11. (SBU) Senior Adviser Shortley met with EU and Belgian envoys
and MONUC January 12. Shortley said that Nkunda was focused not on
the Conference but on issues that would arise in the technical
committee that to be established by or after the Conference. In
Nkunda's concept, there would be four persons each from CNDP and the
government on the technical committee, with U.S. and MONUC as
observers (others, such as EU and Belgium, might be included).
Nkunda wanted the ceasefire to be extended, and he said he had not
been responding militarily to FARDC provocations. MONUC would need
to increase its presence inside Nkunda's territory as agreed by all
parties, to ensure protection of CNDP and the populace. He sought
brassage for all armed groups, but he wanted CNDP troops to be put
under brassage only within North Kivu. This position, Nkunda
implied, would be open to discussion within the technical committee,
where he hoped (but was not optimistic) that the government side
would have members capable of conducting a serious negotiation.
Nkunda rejected any discussion of exile. He sought amnesty for
insurrection and restoration of rank for all the CNDP troops. He
said that if the government continued trying the military option, he

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would, next time, not just stop at Sake but "go all the way."
Mainly, Nkunda sought serious dialogue.

12. (SBU) EU envoy Roeland van de Geer characterized the Conference
leadership as effective and said that the Conference could give a
good impetus to the follow-on technical committee, but van de Geer
worried that the government in Kinshasa would not be forthcoming.
The international community would need to bring great pressure on
Kabila. Belgian envoy Jozef Smets said that Foreign Minister Mbusa
had told him the previous day that his standing was fragile and that
Kamerhe was "in disgrace." On the other hand, the Conference was
building up tremendous momentum and might almost take on the force
of a referendum.

13. (SBU) The January 13 plenary opened with lengthy presentations
by four more South Kivu communities, with the Bashi (Shi)
presentation being a model of moderation (Presidential Advisor
Chissambo said later that he had read it in advance) and the Vira
community wavering between denying Tutsi/Banyamulenge nationality
and calling for reconciliation.

Armed groups have their turn

14. (SBU) CNDP opened the afternoon January 13 with the first
presentation by an armed group. The address, given by CNDP
delegation head Kambasu Ngene, a short round man with none of the
"classic" Tutsi morphology, artfully combined calls for peace and
reconciliation with a repetition of well-known CNDP demands. The
CNDP, he said, recognized the legitimacy of the government after the
election of 2006, but those elections were not a blank check for
permanent legitimacy. CNDP regretted that the government had
preferred a military option. The great threat to DRC was the
ex-FAR/Interrahamwe. All Congolese outside the country should be
assured return -- including opposition head Bemba. (Note: Mention
of Bemba was perhaps the greatest surprise in the speech. End
note.) The process of brassage would have to be "completely
revisited," citizens could not be exiled, and "arrest warrants
against some military chiefs" would have to be retracted
unconditionally. CNDP would accept direct negotiations, with
neutral mediation, as soon as possible.

15. (SBU) There followed speeches by Pareco and North Kivu Mai Mai
groups. The spokesman for the Autochthonous Armed Groups of North
Kivu, Didier Bitake, followed the pattern of the Hunde and Nianga
communities but at greater length and with even more pointed
antagonism toward the Tutsis. It was the most hard-line speech of
the Conference, to date. He called for the removal of FDLR but
emphasized that that must be accomplished peacefully, else the
autochthonous peoples would suffer reprisals. The speakers for the
more Hutu-oriented Pareco and Mongol Mai Mai were less immoderate,
focusing on return of all refugees (not to exclude fellow
Rwandophone Tutsis), the urgent need to deal with FDLR, and the need
for a special tribunal to investigate the massive killings of Hutus
in DRC in the post-1996 period. After these speeches, moderator
Kamerhe commented that there were several common elements among the
armed groups, viz., the need to strengthen the Congolese state, the
need to respect the Constitution, the urge for peace, the general
feeling of being marginalized, the failure of army integration,
concerns about nationality and the need for reintegration of
transplanted populations, problems with hate language and pandering
to ethnicity, and wanting release of prisoners. He hoped the
Conference would be able to build on these points of commonality.

16. (SBU) Speaking afterward to the international observers, Malu
Malu said that when the presentations of the armed groups concluded
(South Kivu groups would have the floor January 14), the Conference
would enter its most difficult phase. The Conference would have to
produce concrete actions and the populace would need to see
immediate results. MONUC representative Steve Jackson described to
him a plan for immediate stabilization of the region to cover the
gap between humanitarian and developmental assistance and expected
that the newly-arrived head of MONUC would come soon to Goma to
discuss it. Malu Malu noted that much of the government was in Goma
or could be quickly summoned there, to discuss this matter. Van de
Geer said that the international observers would ponder proposals
for concrete actions for the Conference and would share them with
Malu Malu.


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