Cablegate: Task Force Held Hostage


DE RUEHKI #0215/01 0641249
O 041249Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Task force held hostage

REF: Kinshasa 196

1. (SBU) Summary. Predictions that Joint Monitoring Group Task Force
(JMG-TF) meetings would be short and productive were overly
optimistic. The February 23 meeting led off with a fascinating
four-hour briefing on DDRRR, then endured five-and-a-half hours of
Rwandan-led wrangling over minutes. Congo again failed to provide
information on its FDLR sensitization program. The Task Force
agreed to ask JMG Envoys for guidance regarding provision of
order-of-battle information on Congo's FDLR military plan. Other
members left the meeting demoralized, hungry and highly annoyed at
the Rwandans. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Nitpicking and intransigence by the Rwandan delegation
again dominated the weekly meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group
Task Force for the Nairobi communique February 29 in Goma. The
group's 11th session, chaired by MONUC-Goma political chief Gernot
Sauer, featured an informative four-hour DDRRR briefing by MONUC and
the World Bank (septel), followed by a five-and-a-half hour
discussion of minutes totaling a record nine-and-a-half hour
meeting. Other participants left the meeting demoralized, hungry
and annoyed at the time wasted by the Rwandans' insistence on again
rehashing the now-familiar litany of old concerns and diatribes.

3. (SBU) The Rwandans showed their willingness to argue over the
slightest deviation from "the norm" right from the beginning when
they questioned Sauer's decision to place briefings ahead of minutes
on the agenda, reversing the usual order. An extensive discussion
while the briefers waited patiently for things to be sorted out was
necessary before the Rwandans reluctantly agreed to the change "on
an exceptional basis."

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Congolese again fail to brief on sensitization program
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) The Congolese delegation again failed to provide a briefing
on the FDLR sensitization program. Acting delegation head Major
Ambroise Nanga apologized and claimed the "technical team" was
unable to brief the group. Sauer pressed him to provide some
details on the program. Nanga cited visits of Ambassador-at-Large
Seraphin Ngwej to Bukavu, the National Assembly President Vital
Kamerhe to Rutshuru, and North Kivu Provincial Assembly President
Leon Bariyanga to Walikale. He also noted a proposed visit to

5. (SBU) The Rwandan delegation was predictably furious. Its
members returned several times during the meeting to Congolese
inability or unwillingness to provide information. Other Task Force
members were also annoyed. The group agreed to "strongly urge" the
government to make its presentation next week, and note the
recommendation in its report.

Rwandans swing into full force

6. (SBU) Briefings by MONUC DDRRR chief Phil Lancaster and the World
Bank MDRP's Harold Henkel was followed by the five-and-a-half hour
review of minutes -- about one-half of a page of text -- of the
February 22 meeting. Efforts by Sauer and other international
members to implement the streamlined, action-oriented proposal made
by MONUC's Acting Political Adviser Christian Manahl (reftel) were
stymied by longwinded rhetoric and extensive posturing by the
Rwandan delegation. Adding to the confusion was the circulation of
various drafts: one from MONUC, one from Congo and one from Rwanda,
which was predictably longer and included the points its delegation
raises each week.

7. (SBU) Sauer's efforts to remind the group that it had agreed to
use the new format and to shorten the process were blocked at each
step the Rwandans. Their threats not to sign because "the Task
Force was proposing things that we cannot accept in the minutes"
held the group virtually hostage to their demands. They insisted on
making arguments raised in previous meetings, although it was not
clear whether they did so to convince other members or to ensure the
points would be included in the meetings of this meeting. Three of
the four Rwandan delegates often took turns making essentially the
same points.

8. (SBU) Sauer vainly attempted to shorten their presentations, or
not call on them individually. The Rwandans protested: "the
delegation from Rwanda would not allow Rwandan's sovereignty to be
questioned;" and "Rwanda would never allow others to dictate its
political positions."

9. (SBU) The Rwandans also questioned Manahl's interpretation and
authority. In the absence of a report of the JMG Envoys' meeting,
they insisted Manahl's views were his own and did not represent
official guidance. Members' attempts to remind them that the Task
Force had agreed to changes the week before were equally
unsuccessful, as Rwandan delegations used "agreements" listed in the
minutes as a basis for further harangues.

10. (SBU) The group agreed to ask the JMG envoys for guidance on the
only substantive issue discussed: did the requirement to provide
the order of battle mentioned in the Congolese military plan flow
from the Nairobi communique or the Tripartite-Plus Mechanism? After
consulting with other international members in an effort to break a
deadlock, Sauer agreed to Rwandan-proposed language in the "summary
of issues discussed," and request guidance in absence of consensus.
At this point, the Rwandans agreed to sign the document.


11. (SBU) The Rwandans' behavior is winning them no new friends.
Despite Manahl's clear message the previous week that too much time
was being spent on the minutes and his candid recommendation that
the Task Force change its ways, they yet again used the discussion
of minutes to raise their usual talking points. The contrast
between the first and second halves of the meeting was surreal: a
fascinating brief with follow-up questions followed by a ceaseless
wrangling over minutes dominated by the Rwandan need to hammer home
the same points and control the meeting. One international member
commented afterward that by the end he would have signed anything to
get out. End comment.


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