Cablegate: Cndp Returns to Military Committee in Goma

DE RUEHKI #0110/01 0321114
O 011114Z FEB 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: CNDP Returns to Military Committee in Goma

1. (SBU) Summary: After a rocky couple of days, with revolts first
by CNDP and then by Mai Mai, Vice-Admiral Etumba's effort to bring
armed groups in North Kivu together concluded with symbolic success
January 31, even if confusion continued to reign. MONUC announced
setting up a cell for verifying ceasefire violations with the object
of reducing the groups' tendency to resort to the media. End

2. (SBU) After the CNDP walkout January 29 of the second meeting
with armed groups in North Kivu under the co-chairmanship of FARDC
Vice-Admiral Didier Etumba and MONUC SRSG Chief of Staff John
Almstrom and Eastern Division commander General Bikram Singh, MONUC
and international facilitators (EU, UK, U.S.) spent the day January
30 trying to salvage the effort to bring some consensus on next
steps, with a particular focus on how to handle ceasefire
violations. In a long meeting with Etumba and 8th Military Region
commander General Vainqueur Mayala, Almstrom, Singh, and
facilitators stressed that it was essential not to corner CNDP and
ineffective at this stage to try to get consensus on a timetable for
disengagement and brassage (Article 2 of the Kivus conference's Acte
d'Engagement), when the first step was to promote respect for the
ceasefire (Article 1).

3. (SBU) Etumba said that he well understood the real weight of CNDP
versus the Mai Mai groups. CNDP should, he said, understand that
there would be no decisions without consensus. Singh said that CNDP
would have to have more -- some direct acknowledgement of its status
as prima donna. Etumba said that he had specific instructions from
Interior Minister Denis Kalume (who, he said, would not after all be
coming to Goma) to get agreement on a structure for the military
committee and on a timetable, even though he said that no one
expected the timetable to be followed. He had garnered Kalume's
agreement to secure the release of the seven prisoners transferred
from Uganda, who were the proximate cause of the CNDP's walkout of
the meeting the day before. However, he was concerned that the CNDP
could advance new pretexts for walking out of every meeting.

4. (SBU) In a subsequent brain-storming session among MONUC and
international facilitators, Singh pointed out that there were only
two significant actors (Kabila and Nkunda) and that the Mai Mai had
only been "woken up" for purposes of bloating the Kivus Conference.
International facilitators undertook to contact the CNDP
representatives attending a reconciliation workshop in Goma being
conducted by a Wilson Center partner, while Almstrom said he was
trying to contact SRSG Doss in Addis Ababa for authorization to meet
or call Nkunda. (Note: Almstrom later said he eventually received
authorization to call, but not visit, Nkunda, by which time the
issue had been resolved by international facilitators at the CNDP
delegation level. End note.) Singh noted that one of the most
difficult issues would be handling the FDLR, which was not a
signatory of the Acte d'Engagement. He said that the three
ceasefire violations since the signing of the Acte -- while claimed
to be between CNDP and PARECO -- largely involved FDLR, with whom
PARECO was, he said, acting as a front.

4. (SBU) The international facilitators proceeded across Goma to the
Karibu Hotel and, to the consternation of the workshop organizers,
called the CNDP delegation out of the seminar for a pivotal
fifteen-minute conversation. In addition to the military officer
who had attended Etumba's meetings January 27 and 28, Capt. B.
Masuzera, two of the most important CNDP political figures, Didier
Muiti Ngashani and Bertrand Bisimina (both of whom had been members
of the CNDP delegation to the Kivus conference) participated.
International facilitators urged them to return to the fold,
stressing that Etumba was a man of good will and his effort was of a
technical and ad hoc nature, intended to protect the ceasefire.

5. (SBU) The three CNDP representatives were, to start with, angry
and emotional. Bisimina condemned Etumba's approach to the
meetings. CNDP had not been consulted in advance. Etumba had
commenced with a focus on Article 2 instead of Article 1, putting
the cart before the horse. He had pressed for acceptance of a
structure, without any decree from the president as required in the
Acte. The CNDP would not accept any structure or timetable imposed
by the government. As for the seven persons arrested in Uganda,
their transfer to Goma had occurred after the signing of the Acte.
Bisimina and Muiti said that these arrestees had been mistreated and
meticulously interrogated by military intelligence. CNDP had
delivered this information to Kivus conference leader Vital Kamerhe
before he had left Goma, and Kamerhe had promised that Etumba would
see to their prompt release, which had not occurred. There had been
other harassment of CNDP in Goma. CNDP needed a strong signal that
its representatives would be safe in Goma. Poloff suggested that
CNDP resume its attendance at Etumba's forum, with a larger
delegation to include political as well as military representatives,
in the spirit of discussion of interim technical modalities. EU

KINSHASA 00000110 002.2 OF 003

poloff called Etumba and got his accord to meet these CNDP
representatives at MONUC within an hour, and -- by now markedly
mollified -- they agreed.

6. (SBU) The Etumba-CNDP meeting at MONUC appeared to go off track
as Etumba assumed a paternalistic air, commencing with half an
hour's monologue. He recalled his participation at the Sun City
negotiations, where he had been as isolated as the CNDP
representative had been at the meetings January 27 and 28. It was
essential that CNDP continue to participate, he urged. He was
willing to talk to CNDP privately whenever necessary. Every subject
was open to discussion. It was time for all Congolese to put the
past behind and build a better future. As for the seven prisoners,
he promised that they would be released within 24 hours. Almstrom
stressed the need for resuming the meeting, to establish an interim
mechanism for dealing with ceasefire violations.

7. (SBU) Rather than bristling at Etumba's gentle paternalism,
Bisimina said that he and his colleagues were reassured by his
words. They could see that Etumba had the desire to make peace.
"It is important that Papa have the courage to listen to his
children." CNDP insisted that the seven be released, as Kamerhe had
promised. They were concerned about the several ceasefire
violations since the Acte was signed, some of which they claimed had
some FARDC involvement. They were also concerned that Etumba had
proposed a structure and timetable that had not been discussed in
advance. Muiti said that, having heard Etumba's words, he would
sleep better now. He saluted the initiative of the international
facilitators to bring them together. What CNDP had wanted most was
a chance for a direct talk. CNDP wanted to work for the good of the
country, but their members were discriminated against and threatened
constantly and they needed guarantees for their safety. An ad hoc
structure for dealing with ceasefire violations would be a good
thing for everyone, including CNDP, but they needed more specific

8. (SBU) Etumba said that he was deeply gratified by the
conversation. He said that he had feared it could have turned in a
negative direction. The government and CNDP would of course quarrel
in the future, but it was essential that they go forward together
for the sake of the country. The parties agreed to resume the
meeting with all the armed groups the next morning.

9. (SBU) MONUC now began to contact the Mai Mai groups to set up the
next day's meeting and learned that they now refused to participate.
The Mai Mai leaders made several complaints: lack of presidential
decree, confused objectives, inadequate time to get back to their
cadres, and -- most important -- insufficient monetary assistance.
(Note: Before his departure from Goma, conference leader Malu Malu
had handed 25,000 dollars to every Mai Mai group for the stated
purpose of informing their men in the field about the Acte, but they
evidently felt this amount insufficient.) Repeated efforts over
the evening and next morning, January 31, brought about a reluctant
willingness at least to hear MONUC out, on the margin of the
workshop at the Karibu Hotel.

10. (SBU) Almstrom and Singh convened the armed groups (both Mai Mai
and CNDP), with international facilitator present, and got their
agreement to attend Etumba's meeting, to occur immediately after.
They stressed that the meeting would serve all parties' interest in
promoting an interim means to deal with ceasefire violations. There
had been confusion where this effort fit into the overall scheme,
and in particular how it fit with the Task Force on Peace and
Security contemplated by the Acte, but it was essential to keep the
discussion going. Mai Mai representatives vented their grievances,
asserting that they were not a tool of the FARDC and could not be
ordered around. UJPS Mai Mai asserted that one of their
representatives had been arrested by FARDC at the previous meeting
in MONUC itself. Almstrom promised an immediate investigation.
Mollified, the armed groups agreed to be present at a follow-on
meeting with Etumba.

11. (SBU) Etumba followed his normal practice, with a monologue. He
recalled his meeting the previous evening with CNDP, and praised
CNDP for its willingness to work together for peace. He said he
understood well the Mai Mai groups' complaints and would address
them. The timetable would be adjusted by making "D-Day" the date of
the soon-to-come presidential decree establishing the Technical
Commission, and the Mai Mai groups would be given seven days within
that timetable for "sensitization" of their cadres. The calendar
would not be "fixed" but rather indicative. He would address the
need to "supplement" the funds they had already been paid for this
sensitization process. He would also intervene to ensure the
release of the UJPS officer, as he had done with the seven CNDP
prisoners. Without taking any vote or entertaining any discussion,
Etumba said that he believed he could now assume that all parties

KINSHASA 00000110 003 OF 003

agreed to the organigram and chronogram the he had proposed at their
first meeting, "modified as discussed."

12. (SBU) MONUC used the occasion to announce its setting up of a
24-hour "focal point" for the ceasefire, and handed out an
information sheet with six points:

-- In the event of information on a ceasefire violation or direct

-- Immediately inform MONUC by contacting its special verification
cell at a given telephone number (MONUC noted that for the time
being the cell would be staffed by non-French-speaking Indian
officers, but it would very soon be able to staff the cell with
francophone personnel);

-- Do not contact the media before receiving the result of the
initial investigation by MONUC;

-- MONUC will quickly dispatch its emergency verification unit to
lead the initial investigation;

-- MONUC will re-contact you within 36 hours to inform you of the
results of the investigation; and

-- If necessary, a meeting will be organized to examine the results
of the investigation, with the following participants around the
table: (a) MONUC, (b) FARDC, (c) international facilitators, and
(d) the armed groups implicated in the violation in question.

13. (SBU) Etumba adjourned the meeting, noting that the next meeting
would take place after President Kabila issued his decree (date

14. (SBU) In a discussion after this meeting, Etumba (wishing to get
back to Kinshasa) pressed MONUC to travel as soon as possible with
him to Bukavu to convene a similar meeting with armed groups in
South Kivu. It was agreed, however, that partly because of the
ongoing workshop at the Karibu hotel, such a meeting could not take
place before Monday, February 4.

15. (SBU) The prisoners -- previously talked about by the CNDP to be
seven, but actually eight -- were delivered to the CNDP shortly
afterward and their liberation was witnessed by MONUC and the
international facilitators. It did not appear that any had been
physically harmed during interrogation, although CNDP had claimed
that one had been badly beaten. Human Rights Watch interviewed them
all in advance of release, and learned that there were only two real
CNDP, the rest from Ituri, and they had gotten together in Uganda
just for the ride to DRC.

16. (SBU) Comment: The three meetings led by Etumba in Goma January
28-31 served to keep the momentum of the Kivus conference going in a
positive spirit. Confusion about the objectives of a Goma-based
security task force was to be expected, in the context of the
conference leader's inherently confusing and much wider concept for
the Task Force for Peace and Security, possibly based in Kinshasa.
It would have been better if one of the conference leaders -- or
some other senior political figure -- had remained in Goma, but
Etumba managed well enough. The key point was his willingness to
meet CNDP directly, because face-to-face contact seemed to be what
the CNDP wanted most. End comment.


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