Cablegate: Goma Notes 03/08/08 - Abbe Malumalu Goes to the Mountain

DE RUEHKI #0238/01 0692009
O 092009Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Abbe Muholongu Malumalu, the newly-appointed
National Coordinator for the Goma peace process, traveled March 8 to
Kirolirwe to meet with Nkunda and find a way to move beyond the
procedural wrangling that has prevented the establishment of the
Joint Technical Committee on Peace and Security (JC) called for
under the Goma Acte d'Engagement and subsequently mandated by
Presidential Decree 008/08. Assuming that understandings reached at
the meeting are upheld in a formal meeting in Goma scheduled for
March 9 and (more problematically, perhaps) in Kinshasa, the
Malumalu-Nkunda meeting appears to have been a great success, both
in clearing away the CNDP's procedural objections in return for a
few technical adjustments to JC structures that have always been
something of a work in progress, and in establishing a direct,
personal and productive link between the Goma process's two key
players. The two men got along very well, and now have a warm
personal link that can easily be activated if and when the Goma
process again bogs down, as it almost certainly will at some point.
End summary.

Mission to Masisi

2. (SBU) As agreed March 7 (see Goma Notes 03/07/08), Abbe
Apollinaire Muholongu Malumalu, the newly-appointed National
Coordinator for the Goma peace process, traveled March 8 to
Kirolirwe in Masisi territory to meet with Chairman Laurent Nkunda
of the CNDP. The journey was made by road, in a MONUC convoy, as a
helicopter could not be secured in time. Abbe Malumalu was
accompanied by Jean-Michel Dumont (EU) and Willet Weeks (U.S.) for
the international Facilitation and by Nicolas Scherlen and Christina
Human for MONUC. Rene Abandi, Betrand Bisimwa and Jean-Desire
Muiti, the political wing of the CNDP's delegation to the Goma
talks, also joined the MONUC convoy, and Major Seraphim Mirindi, of
the delegation's military wing, followed along on a motorcycle.

3. (SBU) The MONUC convoy arrived at Nkunda's cottage at around 1030
and left at 1500. A number of CNDP senior officials were present in
addition to those who had come from Goma. These included General
Bosco Ntaganda, who was decked out in camouflage fatigues with
"United States Army" disconcertingly emblazoned on his chest.

4. (SBU) Abbe Malumalu had prepared an icebreaker, and so once
everyone had all settled into their seats, instead of the usual
chitchat, he immediately engaged Nkunda in a conversation in Swahili
and pulled out a study he has commissioned from some university
research groups (including that of his own university in Butembo) on
the rehabilitation and expansion of the North Kivu road network.
The document included charts and maps, but, he explained, the
sectors under CNDP control had not yet been filled in -- they were
still huge blanks -- and the CNDP's help was urgently required to
complete the task. This elicited much excited conversation between
the two, with other CNDP members joining in. The Abbe and the
Chairman pored happily over all this for 15 or 20 minutes, and from
then on everything seemed almost painless.

5. (SBU) When the conversation switched to French and substantive
discussions began (with the internationals sitting by in discreet
silence), it became clear that Abbe Malumalu had been well-briefed
and was prepared to make concessions that he later explained as
being relatively minor but essential to ensuring that the CNDP came
into the JC. Each of the items was discussed frankly, with Abbe
Malumalu occasionally saying, in effect, help me out here - give me
a break - I'm trying to do everything I can think of to help you
guys out and meet your concerns, but there are things (such as
repudiating Decree 008/08) that I can't do.

6. (SBU) His determination to come away with a deal was clear, and
his delight in doing this with Nkunda himself suffused the room and
caused Nkunda to light up. "We have the advantage of being sons of
this place - we know what the pitfalls are," he said. He also was
at pains to point out that he and Nkunda had been in regular phone
contact, and that he had journeyed to Kirolirwe two years ago to ask
for Nkunda's assistance in ensuring that the constitutional
referendum and the presidential and parliamentary elections could
proceed in areas under Nkunda's control. (This support had been
granted, and the elections had proceeded smoothly.)

7. (SBU) Abbe Malumalu further delighted the CNDP by making it clear
that in all significant respects the JC would, once established,
mostly be a matter between himself and the CNDP, at least as far as
North Kivu was concerned. (Nkunda made it pretty clear that South
Kivu matters were of little or no interest to him.) The Mayi-mayi,
he made clear, would be a minor irritant. Presidential Decree
008/08 was an opportunity, not an impediment, as it had given
"national impetus" to the Goma process and ensured that the work of

KINSHASA 00000238 002 OF 003

the JC would not be done at cross-purposes with other government or
donor programs. His experience as chairman of the Independent
Electoral Commission had shown him that, once backed by a
presidential decree, his own job would empower him to go to the
government to tell it what the JC was doing, not to ask what it
should do.

8. (SBU) For each of the innovations listed below, Abbe Malumalu
presented proposals that were constructive without giving away the
farm (e.g. provincial-level coordination offices, but only as
implementing bodies). In each case, CNDP officials raised the same
kinds of objections that had led to such wrangling in Goma in recent
weeks, only to be overridden by Nkunda who, with a little give and
take, essentially acceded to the Abbe's suggestions.

Proposed JC changes

9. (SBU) While the changes seem relatively minor, they were made by
Abbe Malumalu to seem like significant concessions. Here are the

-- To address CNDP concerns about its levels of representation
relative to the other signatories', two new positions and structures
will be created at the apex of the JC structure.

-- There will be a permanent secretary of the Joint Commission, who
will be a voting member of its national coordinating body, and this
position will be set aside for a CNDP nominee. (The international
Facilitation members were told informally that this will be Abandi.)

-- There will be a new Technical Harmonization Bureau, made up of
six members (three each for North and South Kivu, representing in
each case the government and the Mayi-mayi, plus the CNDP in North
Kivu and the FRF in Sourth Kivu). Its members may later be given
the title of commissioner by the JC's internal regulations, which
the JC will draft and adopt once it has been established by
presidential decree. Its members will coordinate the work of the
provincial coordination offices, presumably (per discussions on
March 7) presiding the latter, rotating monthly.

-- There will still be two linked interprovincial subcommissions,
one military and the other humanitarian and social.

-- The national coordinating body and the interprovincial
subcommissions will collectively be the JC's decision-making

-- There will be a coordination office for each province, to be
presided by members of the new Technical Harmonization Bureau.
These, and their respective committees (replicating the dual
subcommissions), will be implementing bodies ("organes
d'execution"). But the creation of a provincial-level coordinating
structure will go a long way toward assuaging CNDP's concern that
the North Kivu processes of refugee return could get out of synch
with military disengagement. (Nkunda said that this concern had
been exacerbated by Presidential Decree 008/08's placement of the
military subcommission in Goma and the humanitarian and social
subcommission in Bukavu, where CNDP is not popular.)

-- While it was agreed to recommend that the JC adopt a voting
procedure whereby a three-fourths vote would be required to validate
decisions in the event that consensus is not achieved (a key CNDP
demand), this procedure would be established by the JC itself, not
by the upcoming new decree. The idea here is to give the CNDP a
blocking minority in the event that the GDRC and Mayi-mayi
delegations gang up on it. In fact, given the number of Mayi-mayi
groups (there is some debate about how all these numbers add up),
the minority might have to be increased to four-fifths. Either way,
Abbe Malumalu told the CNDP that it would have his support in
seeking this once the JC is established, though he warned that it
could also give the notoriously cranky Mayi-mayi a blocking
majority, too.

10. (SBU) Once these agreements had been hammered out, Nkunda and
the Abbe moved onto the cottage's verandah for a private
conversation of about 45 minutes. Following this, Nkunda withdrew
with his entourage to one of his bedrooms, leaving the Abbe and the
internationals alone to eat the lunch that had been prepared. The
group returned an hour or so later, and their agreement to the
points above (with occasional carping from Muiti or Bisimwa) was
confirmed. A subcommittee spent considerable time (as usual) trying
to figure out how to draw a new organigram, always a complicated
task, with lots of drafts wadded up and thrown aside.

KINSHASA 00000238 003 OF 003

11. (SBU) Assuming these proposals are endorsed by a full-dress
meeting of the Goma signatories (including most North and South Kivu
Mayi-mayi groups, but not the South Kivu FRF) scheduled for March 9
in Goma, the CNDP will hand Abbe Malumalu their list of nominees and
he will return to Kinshasa on March 10 and seek to have them
enshrined in a new presidential decree. At this point, only the
FRF's nominee to the new Technical Harmonization Bureau would be
missing. Abbe Malumalu planned meet that evening with the Mayi-mayi
groups in town for the ILCCE workshop to try to line up their
support at tomorrow's meeting. He seemed confident that he could
make this happen.

Other concerns

12. (SBU) Following the conclusion of these matters, Abbe Malumalu,
with support from the EU and the U.S., raised current humanitarian
concerns, saying that he hoped for "a powerful sign" (in French, un
geste fort) from Nkunda.

13. (SBU) Nkunda replied that, first, he had dispatched a colleague
named "Manzi" (presumably Emmanuel Kamanzi) to Goma with his full
proposed disengagement plan, which was to have been presented at a
cease-fire meeting -- later canceled -- at MONUC that morning. This
could, he said, be implemented in a day, if the conditions were
right. He further said that he was prepared to travel on next
Friday and Saturday to IDP camps, jointly with Abbe Malumalu and
MONUC, to brief communities on how they might safely return, and how
the withdrawal process would work.

14. (SBU) Nkunda asked when it might be possible for CNDP to open an
office in Goma. Abbe Malumalu said he had a better idea: Projet
Amani (the national-level project established under Decree 008/08
and which CNDP had in the past disowned, saying it had nothing to do
with them) was renting a building in Goma. CNDP would be free to
use this as its home away from home, and, since it has three
storeys, its officials would be welcome to stay there instead of
paying for hotels. Nkunda and his colleagues seemed delighted by

15. (SBU) Once this business had been dispatched, Nkunda asked to
see Malumalu's roads plan again, and the two, joined by others,
spent another half-hour or so poring over these like boys with an
erector set, as the 1400 ETD went by and MONUC's IndBatt escorts
grew increasingly impatient.

Return to Goma

16. (SBU) Following the convoy's return to Goma, Malumalu and the
internationals met with General Etumba and explained what had been
decided. Etumba seemed reasonably pleased -- it seemed to be about
what he had expected -- though he did take out his pen and start to
redraw the new plan and add up who had how many votes at what levels
of the JC. As usual, this proved more than a roomful of adults
could cope with, and in the end it was decided to leave things
deliberately vague and hope that the goodwill from the meeting would
let participants float through that of the next day and on to
something more substantive, even if no one can figure out exactly
how that something is supposed to work. Abbe Malumalu is clearly
confident that none of this will matter in the end, once he gets his
commission into a room and can close the door and get down to issues
of substance.


17. (SBU) Assuming everything goes to plan, Abbe Malumalu has moved
the Goma process out of the doldrums into which it has been plunged.
He will then have to go back to Kinshasa and steer his plan through
the shoals here and get it converted into a new decree. There will
surely be very difficult moments ahead, but we can hope that the
futility of the past few weeks will be behind us. End comment.


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