Cablegate: Scenesetter for Visit of Usaid Administrator And

DE RUEHKI #0246/01 0720750
O 120750Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
is slowly grappling with fundamental governance, security and
development challenges following historic 2006 national
elections. The promise of peace and democratization and the
importance of the DRC as the linchpin of central Africa and
beyond have made it one of the Department's top five priority
assistance countries in Africa. The January 2008 Goma
accords between the government and armed groups, facilitated
by the U.S., UN and EU created a process to achieve peace,
security and development in the country's eastern provinces.
Widespread insecurity only amplifies a political and judicial
vacuum throughout the country, contributing to a pervasive
climate of impunity in which armed men routinely abuse
civilians, particularly women and children. There are clear
signs the population is growing impatient with the pace of
the government's efforts and skeptical that democracy can
solve the country's problems. Your visit will reaffirm U.S.
commitment to a long partnership with the Congolese people to
develop democratic institutions and reinforce our shared
objective of a peaceful and prosperous DRC. End summary.

2. (SBU) Your visit to the DRC is a reaffirmation of U.S.
support for the country and its fledgling democracy. It is
the first visit by a senior Administration official since
President Joseph Kabila's meeting with the President at the
White House in October and the signing of the Acte
d'Engagement by the government and armed groups at the
January Kivu peace, security and development conference in
Goma. It comes a little over a year after the election of
President Joseph Kabila in the historic presidential and
parliamentary elections of 2006. Kabila had initially taken
power after his father, Laurent Desire Kabila, was
assassinated in 2001. He led the DRC during a difficult
transition from dictatorship, mismanagement and devastating
wars, which are believed to have taken the lives of over four
million people between 1996 and 2002. The electoral process
produced a government that has been confronting the
challenges of developing democratic institutions amid popular
expectations of change. This situation calls for continued
and sustained U.S. engagement.

3. (SBU) The DRC, a country the size of the United States
east of the Mississippi, has the potential to one day drive
the development of all of central Africa. The Department's
2006 decision to identify it as one of five priority
assistance countries in Africa reflected achievements to
date, the promise of the peace and democratization processes,
and the country's importance to regional stability and
development. Our assistance program fully supports and
reflects the transformational diplomacy goals laid out by the
Secretary. The Mission's overriding goals focus on

implanting a culture of democracy, accountable governance and
respect for human rights, while promoting broad economic
development in a stable Congo at peace with its neighbors and
itself. USAID's 2006 budget for DRC programs totaled $68
million, including funds received from central accounts but
excluding humanitarian assistance. Amounts for 2007 have
risen to $71 million (with supplemental funding), and are
projected to rise in 2008 to $107 million, including
increases for peace and security, governing justly and
democratically, investing in people, and economic growth

Current security challenges

4. (SBU) The security situation in the DRC remains precarious
in many areas, despite the promising processes begun by the
November 2007 Nairobi communique and January 2008 Goma
accords. Most recently, police and militants of the
politico-religious movement Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) clashed
beginning February 28 in Bas-Congo province, following a
series of violent incidents directed at pastors, teachers,
government officials and non-Kongo residents by young BDK
toughs. On March 8, special police forces assaulted BDK's
main compound in the provincial capital of Matadi, and
conducted similar operations in other areas of the province.
MONUC has issued a statement expressing strong concern, and
the EU is considering a proposed statement in Brussels.

5. (SBU) The Congolese military (FARDC) suffers from low
morale, weak command and control, widespread corruption,

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haphazard administration, poor operational planning, limited
training and equipment, and questionable military capability.
State and irregular military forces are responsible for many
of the worst human rights abuses in the country. The Kivu
provinces merit particular attention. Following a failed
FARDC offensive in early December 2007 against a renegade
militia led by dissident General Laurent Nkunda, a
self-proclaimed defender of the Congo,s small Tutsi
population, the government agreed to launch a peace process
with North Kivu and South Kivu armed groups at the Kivu
peace, security and development conference January 2008 in
the North Kivu capital of Goma. Achieving this result
required unflagging engagement by the U.S., UN and EU.
Follow-up will require our continued commitment and

6. (SBU) The DRC and Rwanda pledged to work together November
9 in Nairobi to end the problems posed by the
FDLR/ex-FAR/Interahamwe, by peaceful means if possible, by
force if necessary. The FDLR, formed from the remnants of
the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda and former Interahamwe
fighters, remains the largest of several foreign armed groups
operating in the DRC, with approximately 6,000-8,000
combatants in North and South Kivu. These groups pose a
threat to the country's overall security and stability while
remaining a source of friction between Congo and its
neighbors. Their leaders include a number of individuals
implicated in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Small groups of
Ugandan and Burundian fighters also continue to operate in
DRC territory.

U.S. leadership

7. (SBU) The United States has played a key role in efforts
to re-establish peace in eastern Congo. In 2004, the U.S.
launched the Tripartite (later Tripartite Plus) process, a
forum bringing together senior officials from the DRC,
Rwanda, Uganda, plus Burundi, to promote cooperation and
regional dialogue. A special Tripartite Plus summit chaired
by Secretary Rice December 5 in Addis Ababa brought together
three of the four Tripartite Plus heads of state. Although
Kabila was the only head of state who did not attend, the
three ministers representing him were active participants in
decisions to strengthen commitment to resolving conflict in
eastern Congo and increasing regional cooperation.

8. (SBU) Current active U.S. peacemaking efforts date to mid
2007. Eastern Congo was a major topic of Kabila's White
House meeting with the President. They discussed USG
assistance to the DRC, including increased funding to combat
malaria and AIDS, and the war on terrorism. The President
confirmed that the U.S. would open an Embassy office in Goma
in response to Kabila's request; the office has been staffed
since early November by Foreign Service Officers on detail
from Washington or Embassy Kinshasa. The Department is
currently reviewing the Embassy's proposal to maintain the
office throughout 2008. USAID now also maintains a regular
presence in Goma.

9. (SBU) Tim Shortley, Senior Advisor to Assistant Secretary
Jendayi Frazer, continues to play a major role in
consolidating the peace process. He concluded another
mission to the DRC in early March. He first visited the DRC
in September, meeting with President Kabila, senior
politicians and UN and NGO officials to present ideas for
achieving a negotiated settlement to end the threats posed by
Nkunda and the FDLR. Working closely with UN, EU and South
African special envoys, he helped broker the Congo-Rwanda
agreement in Nairobi. After President Kabila asked him to
return to the DRC in December following the failure of the
Masisi offensive against Nkunda, Shortley negotiated the
withdrawal of Nkunda's forces from territory abandoned by the
FARDC during its retreat. He was a key player at the Kivu
conference of January 2008, and he and the EU special envoy
this month succeeded in persuading Nkunda to resume
participation in the Goma process.


10. (SBU) The United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC)

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includes a 17,000-strong peacekeeping operation with military
contingents in all provinces and major cities and more than
3,000 civilian employees. Now led by SRSG Alan Doss of the
U.K., who previously headed the UN mission in Liberia, MONUC
was created in 1999 pursuant to the Lusaka accords and a UN
Security Council mandate. With an annual budget of over $1
billion, it is the largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping
operation in history. The U.S., as the largest contributor
to the UN peacekeeping budget, funds 27 percent of its
expenditures, i.e. approximately $300 million per year.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uruguay and Nepal
are the leading contributors of peacekeeping troops, each
with contingents of more than 1,000. Much more than a simple
peacekeeping operation, it provides military, transportation,
communications and administrative services in the absence of
a meaningful GDRC presence outside Kinshasa and some
provincial capitals. MONUC's Radio Okapi is the only FM
station broadcasting throughout the DRC in the country's five
main languages. MONUC also maintains regular flights to all
major Congolese cities.

Peace and security

11. (SBU) Reform of the DRC's security services has achieved
mixed success at best. DRC plans for reform of the military,
police, and justice sectors presented at a late-February
international conference on security sector reform (SSR)
lacked a sense of priorities and appeared little more than
laundry lists to which donors were expected to pledge. The
EU has long had significant involvement in the Congolese
security sector, including established European Security
(EUSEC) and European Police (EUPOL) missions. France,
Belgium and other EU member states have provided substantial
funding support. South Africa and Angola have also played
major roles, including the training and equipping of
integrated military brigades.

12. (SBU) USG assistance to DRC security services is set to
increase. New funding from International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement (INCLE), De-mining and Related Projects
Appropriations (NADR), and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) is
in the pipeline. An $8.4 million allocation from Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) is set for FY 2008. In
mid-February, a U.S. military team conducted an assessment
for training of a rapid-reaction force. We are currently
utilizing $5 million in FY 2006 PKO funds to rehabilitate the
officer training institute and provide training for staff
officers and military magistrates and investigators. The
International Military and Education Training Program (IMET)
funds U.S.-based courses that include English-language
training. NADR funds destruction of obsolete ordnance. In
addition, the $300 million in U.S. funding that goes to MONUC
now also supports its new FARDC training program.

13. (SBU) Donor-funded disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration (DDR) programs have achieved mixed success at
best. Approximately 8,000 Congolese combatants have yet to
enter a DDR process, and 40,000 of the 102,000 who have
already signed up for the World Bank/MDRP-funded national
plan have yet to receive reintegration assistance.
Reauthorization of the MDRP and increased funding of $72.5
million will be considered by the World Bank,s Board of
Directors on April 22. A new DDR program designed for Ituri
militias not eligible for the national plan launched in
August 2007. USAID provided $2 million to help fund this
&Phase III8 program to provide reintegration assistance to
the 1,658 ex-combatants who entered the process. In northern
Katanga, another $2 million in USAID funding is providing
reintegration services to a target population of 1,739
ex-combatants and community recovery for 6,000 civilians
affected by conflict.

Democracy and governance

14. (SBU) The Congolese people have had high expectations
that the democratic process will improve their lives. Their
relatively high turnout in the July and October 2006
presidential and parliamentary elections demonstrated their
hope in a democratic system of government. New institutions,
however, have been slow to generate momentum. The 500-member

KINSHASA 00000246 004 OF 007

National Assembly counts only a small number of members with
legislative or government experience. The Assembly and the
106-member Senate have only begun to consider a heavy agenda
of major legislation. Provincial officials are unfamiliar
with decentralized authority and lack resources, money and
experience. Elections for local and municipal officials are
tentatively scheduled for late 2008 at the earliest.

15. (SBU) Parties and candidates aligned with Kabila's
electoral coalition, the Alliance for the Presidential
Majority (AMP), won working majorities in the National
Assembly and Senate, as well as eight of 11 provincial
assemblies and ten of 11 governorships -- leaving the
opposition with little apparent political clout. Parliament
has now adopted legislation defining the rights and
responsibilities of the political opposition, which is in the
process of designating an official spokesman. Prominent
opposition figure Jean-Pierre Bemba departed for Portugal in
April 2007, following fighting in Kinshasa the month before
between his forces and government troops. He has conditioned
his return on a guarantee of personal security and immunity
from prosecution for the March disturbances. Some members of
his party claim security forces have harassed their members
and attempted to muzzle pro-Bemba broadcasters.

16. (SBU) USG governance and institutional reform programs,
budgeted at $10.2 million for FY 2007 and a proposed $19
million for FY 2008, focus on combating corruption and human
rights abuses, developing independent judicial and
legislative institutions, facilitating decentralization of
state authority, and support for local elections. Their
objectives include long-term transformation as well as direct
citizen access to services. We continue to provide
assistance to National Assembly deputies on drafting key
legislative proposals, including laws relating to the
financing of political parties, decentralization, the
establishment of a national election commission and the
protection of human rights. We have also conducted
capacity-building seminars for National Assembly deputies and
staffers, supported the creation of provincial watchdog and
advocacy groups to encourage citizen participation in
democratic processes, and worked to develop skills of
political party members, foster grassroots anti-corruption
initiatives, and establish mobile courts and legal aid

Economic growth

17. (SBU) Most of the Congolese population, estimated at over
60 million, has not benefited from the country's vast array
of natural resources, including minerals, forests and rivers.
With over 90 per cent unemployment and an informal sector
that rivals the formal economy, most people survive on less
than one dollar a day. Despite annual GDP growth of nearly
six per cent in 2007, per capita GDP is only around $120. At
the current growth rate, per capita income will not reach
pre-independence levels until the middle of the century.

18. (SBU) Despite some progress on macroeconomic and
financial reforms since 2003, the IMF Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility (PRGF) lapsed a year ago, in March 2007, due
to continued overspending and failure to meet structural
reform targets. The DRC received little or no direct outside
assistance to support a budget of only $2.5 billion. The DRC
has been granted Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) status,
but with no PRGF in place, is not making progress toward
achieving the nearly complete debt forgiveness envisioned.
Despite reported progress in late 2007 toward a new PRGF,
macroeconomic instability resulting from overspending in
December and January has pushed the negotiation back to
mid-2008. If an IMF program is put in place by July, the DRC
could receive some interim debt forgiveness during the second
half of 2008 from the Paris Club.

19. (SBU) The 2008 budget, signed into law by President
Kabila in January, calls for expenditures of $3.6 billion,
much of it for government salaries (including civil servants,
public school teachers and military personnel) and the
security sector. Without much-needed outside budget support
in 2008, the GDRC may again face large deficits, to which it
has historically reacted with large amounts of currency

KINSHASA 00000246 005 OF 007

issuance. The GDRC is making a concerted effort to raise
revenue levels, but this may not solve the budget shortfall
problem. Since January, GDRC spending has been apparently
contained within budgetary limits, but many of its expenses
will come due only during the last quarter of the year. The
security situation in eastern Congo has been the cause of
much of the recent overspending, according to GDRC officials.
That and resolution of the Mining Commission Contract Review
process will have a major effect on this year,s budget.

20. (SBU) The GDRC is working to implement the Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approved in mid-2006 by the
IMF and World Bank boards. The government's five-year
program, approved by the National Assembly in February 2007,
is based on the PRSP and focuses heavily on President
Kabila,s five priority areas: infrastructure; employment;
education; water/electricity; and health. Economic growth
depends heavily on progress in these areas, but the GDRC must
also dramatically increase state revenues, control its own
spending and renegotiate an IMF program before mid-2008 if it
is to achieve desperately-needed debt relief and outside
budget assistance. In 2007 the GDRC signed agreements with
the Chinese government that focused on infrastructure
creation in return for mining concessions. Few details of the
resulting contracts have been made public. Those that have
been show that these projects will be &infrastructure for
natural resources8 deals.

21. (SBU) The USG is an active participant in international
donors' Country Assistance Framework (CAF) process for the
period 2007-10, designed to align assistance strategies and
support GDRC efforts to implement the PRSP. Bilateral USG
foreign assistance funding for economic growth is modest,
with only $4 million designated for activities to increase
agricultural productivity, although this is supplemented by a
$30 million, three-year Food for Peace program to help spur
rural development. USAID has active global development
alliances with mining, agro-business and health partners.
U.S. commercial interests in the DRC are small but growing,
with a U.S. company (Seaboard Corporation) running the
largest flour mill in the country and an American mining
company (Freeport McMoRan) gearing up to produce an estimated
100,000 tons of copper metal by the end of 2008. USAID and
the British Department for International Development (DFID)
are collaborating on efforts to help the GDRC implement the
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). USAID,
through the Central African Regional Program for the
Environment (CARPE) and the Congo Basin Forestry Partnership
(CBFP) is working to promote better management of the
forestry sector. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency
(USTDA) has granted $500,000 for a hydroelectric sector
pre-feasibility study, and is looking at the transportation
(river and rail) sector for further opportunities for U.S.
investments in DRC infrastructure.

Humanitarian assistance

22. (SBU) Disaster relief and food assistance represented
approximately one-half of all bilateral U.S. foreign
assistance to the DRC in FY 2007. The International Rescue
Committee estimates that over 5.4 million people have died as
a consequence of 10 years of war and conflict. Low-level
combat continues to cause large-scale population
displacements in eastern areas of the country. Many social
and economic support structures have collapsed as a result of
neglect, corruption and lack of resources, leaving victims
without livelihoods, access to medical services and in many
cases, places to live.

23. (SBU) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Assistance estimated there were more than 1.1 million
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC in July 2007,
mostly in the eastern regions of North Kivu, South Kivu and
Ituri District. While the number of IDPs has now
substantially decreased in Ituri, the number of displaced in
North Kivu has dramatically increased due to recent combat.
An estimated 321,000 Congolese refugees remain in neighboring
countries awaiting repatriation.

24. (SBU) Non-food IDFA funding totaled $28.5 million in FY
2007. The U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

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provides transportation and a start-up cash package to
returning IDPs, and is mounting labor-intensive road
rehabilitation programs. The USG provided $37.8 million of
food assistance in FY 2007, most channeled through the World
Food Program for distribution in conflict areas.


25. (SBU) Congolese social indicators are dismal: the DRC
ranked 167th out of the 177 countries in the 2006 UNDP Human
Development Report. Health indicators are among the worst in
the world. Infant and child mortality are 126 and 213 per
every thousand live births, respectively. Many preventable
infectious diseases are prevalent, notably malaria, HIV/AIDS
and tuberculosis. HIV prevalence stands at 1.3 per cent of
all adults, or approximately 800,000 people -- among the top
ten totals in the world.

26. (SBU) Health constitutes the USG's most important
development effort. Public health care is in near complete
collapse throughout the country. Lack of equipment, trained
personnel, adequate facilities and supplies continue to
prevent access to basic health care for most of the
population. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide an
estimated 80 per cent of the limited care available. We plan
to program over $55 million for primary pediatric health care
in 82 rural health zones over the next three years, and
continue to support national tuberculosis and polio
eradication efforts. USAID plans to provide $12 million over
four years for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. CDC funds
surveillance and pediatric HIV/AIDS programs. DOD has
programs for military HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The
Department of State has created an innovative public
diplomacy program to increase HIV/AIDS awareness.

The scene today

27. (SBU) Your arrival comes at a moment of great tension as
well as great hope. The Congolese people look to their
government, and the international community, for help to
bring an end to conflicts that have cost millions of dollars,
uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in
millions of deaths. These conflicts have also created an
atmosphere of widespread insecurity, contributing to a
political and judicial vacuum in which women and children are
routinely abused, and in which the perpetrators go
unpunished. There are clear signs the population is growing
impatient with the pace of the government's efforts and
skeptical that democracy can solve its problems. In this
environment, we ask you to help us to reinforce the following

-- The Congolese people rightly expect responsible leadership
at home as well as supportive international partners. We
will continue to support the new leadership to develop
transparent practices, establish good governance for the
well-being of the Congolese people, and improve the
stewardship of its abundant natural resources.

-- They are eager to realize tangible benefits from their
investment in democracy. They must cease being made victims
of violence. Human rights must be respected and violators

-- Congo has taken remarkable strides to replace war with
peaceful democratic change. The successful elections were a
tangible demonstration of the people's desire for peaceful
governance. The United States is eager to see that momentum

-- We encourage political and military authorities to pursue
a peaceful resolution of the security problems which persist
in Congo.

-- The United States will continue to support and work
closely with the GDRC and MONUC to bring about political
reconciliation and to prevent further conflict in the DRC and
the region.

-- We strongly support the Nairobi and Goma processes and are

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contributing funds and expertise to ensure their success will
bring lasting peace and stability to the region.

© Scoop Media

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