Cablegate: Goma Report for January 19 - Kabila

DE RUEHKI #0054/01 0210900
O 210900Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report for January 19 - Kabila
Meeting with Foreign Observers

1. (SBU) Summary: With forty-eight hours left in the Kivus
Conference, President Kabila summoned diplomats present in Goma
January 19 to outline the peace process that would be established by
the conference. The government and all internal armed forces and
ethnic communities in the Kivus would sign, with the international
community as witness. He was still pondering the structure of
follow-up mechanisms and whether he would issue a decree to support
the conference's pronouncements. He did not want to offer amnesty,
as it would reward those who taken up arms against the state. The
diplomats urged him to share the conference's final documents prior
to the conference's conclusion January 21, if possible. End

2. (SBU) President Kabila received eighteen international
representatives present in Goma in the garden of the governor's
office (former Mobutu mansion on the shore of Lake Kivu) for an hour
and forty-five minutes January 19 (EU/EC with three; Belgium,
Germany, Uganda, and U.S. with two each; and one each from African
Development Bank, AU, France, MONUC, Tanzania, UK, and Zambia).
Presidential advisers Tshibanda and Chissambo were also present.

3. (SBU) EU Special Envoy Roeland van de Geer opened with the
observation that the international representatives present in Goma
had worked closely and intensely over the past two weeks with each
other and with the leaders of the Kivus Conference and had talked
openly and sometimes bluntly with leaders of armed groups and ethnic
communities. He was optimistic that the conference would produce a
"Goma Process" for ending conflict among internal armed groups,
paralleling and reinforcing the "Nairobi Process" now underway, with
its focus on FDLR. He summarized for Kabila the preliminary
recommendations that the international representatives had presented
to the conference leaders, viz.: durable peace with formal
ceasefire, disengagement, and reintegration of armed groups (DDR);
effective stabilization through enhanced state capacity and improved
governance; social cohesion through return of IDP's, truth and
reconciliation, inclusivity, land tenure, and action to stop sexual
violence; security sector reform; and regional cooperation.

4. (SBU) Kabila described the objectives of the conference as being
an end of war in the Kivus, construction and consolidation of peace,
relieving the humanitarian crisis and ensuring development. He was
confident that all the armed groups and ethnic communities in the
Kivus were now determined to make and consolidate peace and begin to
live in harmony. The conference would have to come to a conclusion
on January 21, with a signature of an undertaking by all
participants, to include the armed groups and ethnic communities and
the government, witnessed by the international community. After the
signing, follow-up mechanisms would be established. Kabila said
that he had not yet decided (but would make the decision by end of
the day on) how many follow-up structures would be established and
whether the document would be supported by a presidential decree.
He said that the disengagement of forces would be a process
involving integration (brassage) of all armed groups without
exception. Signing the document and setting up follow-up mechanisms
would be important, but it would be even more important for the
people to see quick progress on the ground. In this, the
international community, through MONUC, would have a great role. It
would be necessary to define exactly where forces would be
relocated, where they would be placed in cantonment, and where
brassage would occur. Such technical questions would involve a huge
amount of work.

5. (SBU) Kabila said that there were a couple of "small
contradictions" that would need to be dealt with. The CNDP sought
to be accepted as a political party, but there were legal
requirements that the CNDP would have to fulfill. Formerly, RCD and
other such groups had had to meet the same requirements. There was
also the issue of amnesty. Kabila recalled that there had been
earlier demands for amnesty for perpetrators of massacres in North
Katanga and Ituri. The government had accepted demobilization of
most combatants in those conflicts, but it had pursued and arrested
the minority who had refused to demobilize. Only in the Kivus, for
the past couple of decades, every time there had been a "little
rebellion," its leaders had been given impunity, giving rise to
further rebellions and massacres. It was time to apply the law of
the land in the Kivus and bring those responsible for crimes of war
to justice. On the other hand, Kabila said, he realized that it
would not be wise to pursue rebels to such an extent as to ruin the
conference -- a way needed to be found to preserve both the
conference and justice.

6. (SBU) Van de Geer said that a distinction should be made between
amnesty for war crimes (a matter of international justice) and
amnesty for rebellion, which was a political affair in the hands of

KINSHASA 00000054 002 OF 003

a sovereign state. Belgian Special Envoy Jozef Smets said that he
appreciated that the president had raised the issue of amnesty, a
matter of great concern to the international community. He noted
that members of the National Assembly from North Kivu had earlier in
the day made accusations against the CNDP for very recent mass
killings. Such acts, if confirmed, would fit in the category of war
crimes, and would not be appropriate for DRC amnesty and, moreover,
could tempt FDLR genocidaires to ask for similar amnesty. Smets
noted that all conference participants had underlined the importance
of dealing with the FDLR, and the conference had rightly treated
separately the issues of internal combatants and FDLR.

7. (SBU) Senior Adviser to the Assistant Secretary for African
Affairs Tim Shortley congratulated Kabila on the conference, which
he hoped would be a great success. Leaders of the conference had
been wonderful to work with. Very much work remained to be done in
the forty-eight hours remaining before the conclusion of the
conference. Shortley recommended "test-running" the conference's
documents with key armed groups and the international community. As
facilitators, the international representatives needed to work
closely with their home offices and prepare them for the conference
results. Even more important was communication with the armed
groups, who were all ready to sign but would benefit from liaison to
avoid a breakdown at the closing. Shortley emphasized that it would
be important to present the conference's final documents as a legal

8. (SBU) MONUC political director Christian Manahl said that MONUC
stood ready to assist in every way possible in the follow-up of the
conference's agreement. The conference, he said, must not fail. A
successful result would transform the Kivus. Manahl underlined that
while war crimes gave individual states no discretion, in the case
of insurrection amnesty was a measure which the DRC government had
often applied.

9. (SBU) Kabila demurred, saying that only once had the DRC
resorted to amnesty. Aside from the fundamental lack of justice and
disregard of law involved in amnesty, it was also a lengthy process,
requiring action by the National Assembly (which would be highly
resistant), and there was not time to go through that process. Most
combatants in armed groups, including senior officers, would not
need amnesty in order to integrate in the army. DRC had shown that
it did not punish rebels who lay down their arms. The issue was one
of trust.

10. (SBU) As for ex-FAR/FDLR, Kabila noted that that issue had
persisted for many years, since before he had arrived in Kinshasa in
1997. "No one can say that he has done more than ourselves to solve
the ex-FAR than we -- no one." Rwanda had occupied the Kivus
1998-2003 -- "ask them how many ex-FAR they took back to Rwanda
then." But Kabila said he had overseen the repatriation of nearly
20,000 ex-FAR, not through military action, but via persuasion
backed by military pressure. Now the number of ex-FAR was down to
5,000. Was he being asked to burn down the Kivus to get at 5,000
men? It would be senseless. Yet, with the signing of the Nairobi
communiqu, DRC had decided now to deal with the ex-FAR once and for
all. A plan was in place. Kabila said that he had just seen the
pamphlets that had been prepared for distribution in the
sensitization phase.

10. (SBU) Kabila said he was planning to invite most of the ex-FAR
leaders for a meeting in DRC, with the international community
present as witnesses in order to meet Rwandan anxieties. The
message to the ex-FAR leaders would be that they had come to the end
of the road in DRC. They would have to disarm and go home, or stay
in Congo with refugee status far from the Kivus, or be disarmed by
force. The meeting would take place by the end of January, perhaps
in Kisangani, and would involve 20-30 ex-FAR leaders, including
those in Europe. Internal and external armed groups needed to be
dealt with separately. Ex-FAR was indeed a threat to DRC, but one
which had to be handled by the national army, not by any individual
who thought he had a role in fighting the ex-FAR. Dealing with the
ex-FAR, as promised in Nairobi, would help undercut Nkunda's claim
to that role.

11. (SBU) Van de Geer said that he hoped that the momentum of the
conference would be maintained through its last 48 hours and that
it would be the beginning of a real Goma Process. Nairobi and Goma
were separate but, as the president had said, would have a
significant influence on each other. Van de Geer acknowledged that
the international community carried a major responsibility because
of the FDLR leaders present in Europe (Netherlands, Germany, UK,
Belgium, and France). In November he had asked all EU states to
answer questions about these FDLR leaders and what the governments

KINSHASA 00000054 003.2 OF 003

intended to do with them. All governments were investigating. The
Goma Process, van de Geer said, would put him in a stronger position
to the EU states to say that the DRC had moved on and it was time
for them to do more. Countries with legal impediments should
politically name and shame the FDLR leaders. Van de Geer said that
he would also stay in close touch with the United States and Canada
on the matter.

12. (SBU) Van de Geer said that a successful conclusion to the last
forty-eight hours of the conference would require Kabila's personal
leadership and political courage. Van de Geer believed that the
international community had made a contribution, in its many
meetings and its tough talk with armed groups and ethnic community
leaders, to a more realistic and harmonious mood in the conference,
but there were limits to what the international community could
accomplish. The international community wanted to accompany DRC on
its way forward if there were a successful result to the conference.
Van de Geer underlined that it would be helpful for the
international community to receive some prior indication of the
documents emerging from the conference. "We wish you all the wisdom
you will need at this historical juncture in the life of the

13. (SBU) Kabila remarked with a smile, in closing, "Wisdom does
not grow on trees." He turned to his counselor Tshibanda and gave
him instructions to share the conference documents when they were
ready. (At a later meeting with the international community,
conference president Father Apollinaire Malu Malu indicated that
such documents were far from being finalized.)


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