Cablegate: Eu Special Envoy Meets Nkunda

DE RUEHKI #0151/01 0421446
O 111446Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: EU Special Envoy meets Nkunda

Ref: A. Kinshasa 144 B. 06 Kinshasa 1405

1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting at Kirolirwe with EU Special Envoy
Roeland van de Geer February 9, Laurent Nkunda affirmed his
commitment to the Kivus conference Acte d'Engagement. He said that
the future of Tutsis in Congo could only be assured through the Goma
peace process rather than through continued armed conflict.
However, he said, the Congolese government had vitiated the Acte
with Kabila's decree of February 2. Van de Geer said that it was
possible to view the decree as creating a superstructure, only
superficially linked to the Acte's Technical Commission, which would
still be autonomous and Kivus-based and include strong involvement
of the international community. Van de Geer said he would attempt,
on returning to Kinshasa, to clarify the matter with the Minister of

2. (SBU) Summary, continued: Nkunda said he was preparing a
six-year implementation proposal (in contrast to the 40-day
timetable proposed by Vice-Admiral Etumba) but he had no
interlocutor in the government. Van de Geer said that he foresaw
establishment of a task force in Goma for implementing the Acte,
similar to that which now existed for the Nairobi process. Nkunda
said that he foresaw brassage within two to three years, much more
quickly if the FDLR were dealt with sooner. Brassage for his forces
would take place within the Kivus. Van de Geer said that Nkunda had
a negative image that could be improved only if he acted more
forcefully to deal with human rights abuses. End Summary.

3. (SBU) Laurent Nkunda received EU Special Envoy Roeland van de
Geer February 9 at a farmhouse overlooking the village of Kirolirwe
and its adjacent MONUC operating base, where van de Geer and an
international delegation had arrived by MONUC helicopter. The
meeting lasted four and a half hours. Nkunda, dressed in a simple
black safari suit, was accompanied by several non-Tutsis, including
CNDP Secretary General Deogratias Nzabarinda and humanitarian and
health affairs chief Dr. Alexis Kasanza, Col. Claude Mucho and
lower-ranking military officers. Van de Geer was accompanied by
MONUC-Goma political affairs director Gernot Sauer, van de Geer's
political adviser Jean-Michel Dumont, EUSEC Lt. Col. Tim King, and
Poloff Haywood Rankin.

Preceding Meeting with Nkunda's Team

4. (SBU) Bishop J. M. Runiga's account of his meeting with Nkunda
February 6 (ref A) suggested that Nkunda was on the brink of
rejecting the Goma process, mainly on account of Kabila's February 2
decree setting up a "Peace Program" for the Kivus. A meeting
February 8 in Goma between several of Nkunda's key advisors and
MONUC and international facilitators (not including van de Geer, who
was in transit) confirmed that Nkunda appeared to be on the verge of
walking away from the peace process.

5. (SBU) The CNDP team, composed of political spokesman Rene Abandi,
military spokesman Seraphin Mirindi, political advisors Bertrand
Bisimwa and Desire Muiti, and Col. B. Masuzera, said that CNDP had
no choice but to go to the media with an absolute rejection of the
February 2 decree. They said that the decree vitiated the Technical
Commission under the Acte d'Engagement. In the decree, they said,
the Steering Committee was the supreme organ and gave no role to the
international community or CNDP, and they cited many other
objectionable aspects. They said that they felt that the CNDP had
been duped. MONUC SRSG Chief of Staff John Almstrom and the EU's
Dumont urged the CNDP to wait at least a few days before going to
the media with a rejection of the decree.

6. (SBU) The CNDP team said that they took particular umbrage at a
recent communique of the DRC and Ugandan defense ministers, in
which, it claimed, CNDP was mentioned as a negative force that had
to be eliminated. They claimed that FARDC was moving tanks, troops,
and ammunition into North Kivu, and they objected to MONUC's
reinforcements and redeployments, because the Acte did not call for
such redeploments until establishment of the Technical Commission.
MONUC Eastern Division commander General Bikram Singh told the CNDP
team (which included two lawyers, Abandi and Bisimwa) not to be
over-legalistic. He assured them there was no rearming by the FARDC
going on, and he urged them to understand that MONUC's redeployments
were essential to protecting the ceasefire.

On the Hilltop

7. (SBU) Nkunda said that he was very happy to receive this

KINSHASA 00000151 002 OF 004

important international delegation and grateful that the
international community had played a tireless and decisive role in
bringing about the "Goma Accord." That accord, he said, aimed at
addressing the future of DRC, while the Sun City accord had only
divided up spoils. President Kabila "and the extremists around
him," Nkunda believed, had not wanted a Kivus Conference nor the
Acte d'Engagement and, without the determined intervention of the
international community, these would not have come about.

8. (SBU) Nkunda said that his focus was on protecting his Tutsi
community (although he also stressed that the CNDP was a
multi-ethnic party and pointed out that the staff around him were
non-Tutsi, just as the CNDP delegation to the Kivus Conference had
been predominantly non-Tutsi), and he said that he realized that in
the long term he could not assure that objective through military
means. "There is a big difference between winning a battle and
finishing a war." He said that with the signing of the Acte he had
felt his work was "almost finished." He said that Abandi had
advised him not to sign the Acte, as Abandi had seen too many
potential pitfalls in the Acte for the CNDP, but Nkunda said he had
decided to go forward anyway, and he said he was fully committed to
what he (through his delegation) had signed.

9. (SBU) Nkunda said that the Kivus Conference and the Acte had
seemed to imply a rapid establishment of the Mixed Technical
Commission for Peace and Security, so that at last the CNDP would
have a direct interlocutor with the government. For too long, the
CNDP had been isolated, including by MONUC, which had refused to
meet him except at a mid-grade military level and had refused to
give CNDP an airing on Radio Okapi. Now had come the decree of
February 2. (Nkunda brought out a copy of the decree and read
through parts.) The decree established a Steering Committee with no
Kivu or CNDP participation and no role for the international
signatories of the Acte.

10. (SBU) Article 8 stipulated that the Technical Commission would
be under control of the Kinshasa superstructure, and it set out a
list of participants in the Technical Commission (including
"representatives of the government" without saying how many) that
had not been previously discussed nor foreseen in the Acte. It
provided for participation of all the Mai Mai signatories of the
Acte, when it was well known that they were fabricated by the
government. There were provisions for provincial institutions that
seemed to have no relationship to the Acte and gave the governors of
North and South Kivu undue power. It created a vast bureaucracy
that seemed to be designed to divert millions of dollars into
Kinshasa pockets.

11. (SBU) In sum, the decree kidnapped the Acte, and the decree
therefore had to be withdrawn or fundamentally changed. Meanwhile,
Nkunda lamented that Defense Minister Chikez, in the meeting at Beni
with his Ugandan counterpart, had called for the destruction of the
CNDP, in violation of the Acte.

Human Rights and Image

12. (SBU) Van de Geer said that Nkunda had a very negative image
both among the Congolese population and elsewhere and that he needed
to take actions and to make public declarations that would improve
it. Van de Geer cited instances of rape and use and recruitment of
child soldiers. He said that there had been a report, as yet not
confirmed, that CNDP had badly mutilated sixty prisoners of war (ref

13. (SBU) Nkunda responded that he had moved forcefully to reduce
the incidence of rape by his soldiers. The CNDP high command had
instituted the death penalty for collective rape and had already
carried out that sentence when such cases arose. Unfortunately, the
CNDP had attracted many troops from the FARDC, where the habit of
rape was widespread. Similarly, Nkunda said, CNDP had inherited
child soldiers from RCD-Goma and FARDC, and it had worked with
Caritas to demobilize over 2,500 of them since 2004. Unfortunately,
these child soldiers tended to come back, due to the poor conditions
of their demobilization. He was now arresting officers who allowed
them to return. CNDP did not recruit child soldiers, Nkunda

14. (SBU) Nor, he said, did it mutilate prisoners, some of whom
preferred to stay with CNDP. ICRC had access to prisoners, and
MONUC knew perfectly well there had never been any such mutilation.
Separately, MONUC's Sake base commander Col. Chand Saroha affirmed
that he had never seen any mutilated prisoners. (Note: These
reports appear to have been the result of conclusions drawn by

KINSHASA 00000151 003 OF 004

Belgian military officers from observation of soldiers hospitalized
in Kinshasa. In fact, we have confirmed that an unusually high
number of medical amputations were performed on FARDC wounded in the
aftermath of the December fighting. This could well be the source
of the confusion. End note.)

15. (SBU) As for public declarations about CNDP's policies on human
rights, Nkunda lamented that MONUC had denied CNDP access to Congo's
most important radio station, Radio Okapi. Sauer stated that he
would discuss the matter with his hierarchy but thought it likely
that CNDP would be allowed access to Radio Okapi.

Viewing the Decree Two Ways

16. (SBU) Van de Geer acknowledged that Kabila's February 2 decree
had come as a surprise and contained many confusing elements. The
Steering Committee indeed did not include the CNDP and the
international community. However, van de Geer said, the structure
elaborated by the decree could be interpreted as involving two
virtually unconnected parts, the first part relating only to the
government's role in Kinshasa with an emphasis on attracting donor
money for the Kivus, and the other dealing with the Technical
Commission to be located in the provinces. Rather than call for the
outright withdrawal of the decree, it would be better to
"reinterpret" it.

17. (SBU) Nkunda agreed that outright withdrawal might be difficult.
However, he feared that it might also be impossible to go forward
with the decree, however much it was reinterpreted. Van de Geer
said that he would return to Kinshasa in the coming days to try to
clarify the matter with the government. Nkunda cautioned him not to
fall into the trap in which the international community had found
itself during the pre-election Transition, in which the
international community was meant to be guarantor of the transition,
but constantly faced the belligerence from the Kabila-led

18. (SBU) What was essential, in Nkunda's view, was that the
Technical Commission not be fettered by the government. It needed
to be autonomous, with the international community as guarantor, as
spelled out in the Acte. It would have to have executive authority.
Its membership would need to have a balance between the government
and CNDP, for example, fifty percent participation of government,
forty percent CNDP, and ten percent the various Mai Mai groups.

19. (SBU) Moreover, Nkunda said, all the commissions created to
address issues in the Acte would need to spring from the Technical
Commission. It was especially important that the military and
humanitarian sub-commissions work at roughly the same pace, since it
was as important to prepare society to accept the Tutsis as it was
to integrate CNDP forces into the Congolese army; these two efforts
had to go hand in hand.

Long-Term Proposal -- No Brassage with FDLR Still a Threat

20. (SBU) Nkunda said that the CNDP's concept of a timeline, in
stark contrast to the government's (as exemplified by Vice-Admiral
Etumba's 40-day timetable), was of a six-year program, renewable.
CNDP would not present this Proposal for Pacification and Security
until the Technical Commission was established in accordance with
the Acte. CNDP, he said, was not interested in fictional deadlines,
such as the March 15 deadline imposQ on DRC by the Nairobi

21. (SBU) Nkunda said that he would never risk integration of his
forces into the Congolese army so long as the FDLR remained a threat
to his people or to his forces. Unfortunately, the reality was that
the FDLR had long been a tool of the government and remained so.
Rwanda did not want the FDLR back in Rwanda and the DRC needed and
used the FDLR and did not want to push FDLR's combatants back into
Rwanda. Nkunda recognized the importance of the provision in the
Nairobi communique allowing the FDLR to resettle in DRC far from the
border, but the break-up of the FDLR would be difficult and take
time. As for other key elements of the Acte, Nkunda particularly
focused on the return of refugees. He scoffed at the idea that
their return could adequately be prepared in anything like the 40
days contemplated in Etumba's calendar.

22. (SBU) Nkunda said that his proposal would propose
confidence-building measures, with elements of the mixage process
that had been attempted in 2007. He described mixage as having been

KINSHASA 00000151 004 OF 004

a good idea in concept, but one on which the government never
followed through. In any case, brassage could only take place step
by step, with confidence-building measures and, in particular, clear
progress on dismantling the FDLR and assurance of security. The
faster FDLR was addressed, the faster brassage would take place.
Nkunda said his forces were attached to the Kivus and would expect
to remain there. Moreover, he would advocate mixing only those
forces that had equivalent training.

No One to Talk To

23. (SBU) Van de Geer asked whether, in formulating his proposal,
Nkunda had any interlocutor with the government. Nkunda said there
was "only an absence." He had had the visit of Bishop Runiga, and
his people in Goma had met with MONUC and the international
facilitators but, otherwise, there was nothing. He hoped, at least
as an interim measure until the Technical Commission could be
acceptably established in accordance with the Acte, that a "modality
of concertation" be established between CNDP, FARDC, MONUC, and the
international facilitators. He lamented that Etumba had been sent
to Goma in lieu of senior political figures capable of taking
decisions. He advocated also establishing a Wise Men's Committee
alongside the co-presidency of the Technical Commission.

24. (SBU) Meanwhile, Nkunda said, he was putting two of his staff
permanently in Goma, but he remained very concerned about their
security. Van de Geer thought that the Goma process would be well
served by a task force on similar lines to the one now functioning
in Goma under the Nairobi process. It was essential, in van de
Geer's view, that there be close coordination between the two

25. (SBU) Nkunda said that the Kinshasa aspects of the February 2
decree were of no interest to him. Going to Kinshasa was all about
collecting per diem. Essential was the establishment of an
autonomous body with decision-making capability in Goma. Nkunda
said that he preferred that the Technical Commission meet in a
"neutral zone." Perhaps MONUC could erect a tent near Sake and
Kimoka where such meetings could be held. Meanwhile, he advocated
also that patrols of MONUC's North Kivu Brigade include elements of
CNDP and FARDC, and even PARECO in those areas where PARECO was
operating, in order to "promote a better image" of these patrols.

26. (SBU) Sauer asked whether any credence should be put in reports
of a split in the CNDP. Nkunda asserted that Colonel Sultani
Makenga remained in the high command and had willingly accepted the

Van de Geer and SRSG Doss

27. (SBU) On return to Goma, van de Geer gave a briefing to SRSG
Alan Doss, who was on a stop-over from Bukavu to Kinshasa. Van de
Geer said that he had concluded, from his conversation with Nkunda,
that Nkunda was prepared not to reject the February 2 decree
outright but give the international community a chance to persuade
the government to "reinterpret" it. He said he would change his
plans and return to Kinshasa, with the object of joining Doss in a
meeting with Minister of Interior Kalume. Most essential would be
to persuade the government to start implementing the Acte at the
provincial level as soon as possible, with creation of an autonomous
commission there with a substantial role for the CNDP. Van de Geer
said that it was essential for the international community to commit
itself to the Goma process with experienced full-time political
staff in Goma. The work would be immense.

28. (SBU) Doss said that MONUC was in full tilt ramping up its
military and political presence in North Kivu. He agreed that
Kalume needed to understand that if the government tried to hijack
the Goma process it would wind up with less than nothing.


29. (SBU) The van de Geer-Nkunda meeting was their first direct
contact in North Kivu, and the first political contact between MONUC
and Nkunda for some years. Nkunda was dispassionate, logical,
articulate, and well-prepared. From start to finish, he was an
impressive interlocutor. End comment.


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