Cablegate: Goma Notes 03/21/08 - Goma Process: Two of Three "Exclusion

DE RUEHKI #0285/01 0821350
O 221350Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. Kinshasa 170 B. Kinshasa 278

1. (SBU) Summary. Goma process International Facilitation, CNDP and
PARECO established two of three planned exclusion zones (where no
armed men or men in uniforms are allowed, with the exception of
MONUC patrols) in North Kivu during the week of March 15-21. This
includes the sensitive zone of Moheto, located northeast of Nkunda's
Kirolirwe headquarters in an area hotly contested by CNDP and PARECO
and with a strong FDLR position within striking distance. CNDP and
to a lesser extent PARECO exhibited a spirit of compromise and
collaboration that allowed difficult negotiations to achieve a
disengagement agreement. End summary.


2. (SBU) The majority of the approximately 55 cease-fire violations
registered by MONUC since the January 23 Acte d'Engagement have
occurred in North Kivu, with over 50 per cent involving CNDP-PARECO
clashes. International Facilitators (MONUC, U.S. and EU) reached
agreement in mid-March with CNDP and PARECO to delineate and
establish three "exclusion zones" in areas with high violation
counts, with the objective of physically separating CNDP and PARECO
forces to reduce the likelihood of violations and permit freer and
more secure population movements and economic activity.

3. (SBU) Technically, setting up the zones is the responsibility of
the Joint Technical Commission for Peace and Security (JC) but, as
the JC remains to be established, the parties agreed to proceed in
this somewhat ad-hoc but nonetheless official process. The zones
define demilitarized areas where armed men or men in uniforms --
other than MONUC forces who are to patrol the area -- are "excluded"
from entering.

Mgungu exclusion zone

4. (SBU) The Mgungu zone is located west of Sake near the South Kivu
border. CNDP, PARECO and International Facilitation (MONUC and EU)
traveled to the area and established the zone on March 15. It is
two-kilometer wide strip, centered on the river Nubulu. Its
northern extremity is on the river between the villages of Kibabi
and Kininzi. From there, it extends south to the town of Nyabizamo,
then to the town of Mgungu and then farther to the west, north of
the road.

5. (SBU) CNDP and PARECO agreed to immediate and simultaneous
evacuation of their troops from the area. All parties signed a
memorandum to this effect. In addition to regular patrols, MONUC is
to establish a helicopter operating base (a mobile operating base
that will be airlifted to the area) in the town of Gasake within the
exclusion zone. U.S. facilitators were unable to participate in
this effort, so we have no direct information on the tone of the

Tongo exclusion zone

6. (SBU) Tongo is the town where MONUC South African peacekeepers
from the nearby mobile operating base (MOB) exchanged fire with and
captured (then released) eight CNDP troops engaged in brutalizing
and looting from the population in early March (ref A). It lies on
the edge of the hills rising out of the Rutshuru plain and the
Virunga National Park, across the valley from Rutshuru town.

7. (SBU) CNDP, PARECO and International Facilitation traveled to
Tongo on March 17 (ref B). This was a poorly planned and muddled
exercise that produced nothing positive while eroding the
credibility of MONUC and the rest of the International Facilitation.
The South African detachment was not prepared for this visit, and
the maps they had available did not permit identification of a zone
to be demilitarized. CNDP and PARECO got along extremely well, as
the only important discussions concerned the locations of cardinal
compass points.

8. (SBU) By mutual agreement -- as there was no way to determine
where anything was much less who was occupying which positions --
the group agreed to cut the mission short and return to Goma, with
the understanding that it would determine another methodology for
establishing this zone in the near future.

Moheto exclusion zone

KINSHASA 00000285 002 OF 003

9. (SBU) CNDP, PARECO and Facilitation (MONUC, U.S. and EU) traveled
March 20 to Moheto, located northeast of Kirolirwe in Masisi
territory, or a three-and-one-half-hour road trip in MONUC convoy at
12 miles per hour the whole way. Kirolirwe is a CNDP stronghold
which includes Chairman Laurent Nkunda's residence. The Indian
contingent based in the area was well-prepared for the exercise,
with accurate maps and a clear understanding of where CNDP, PARECO
and FDLR positions were located. It was thus possible to discuss
the exclusion zone with a reasonable mastery of the terrain,
topography, villages and markets, and the positions of the forces.

10. (SBU) Right from the beginning, negotiations with PARECO and
CNDP were very difficult, with both sides trading accusations.
PARECO's General Theophile Museveni said repeatedly that MONUC is
not responsive or neutral, CNDP is duplicitous and has taken
positions in violation of the Acte d'Engagment, and that PARECO
would leave the Goma process and go back to war with CNDP. CNDP
returned fire with a number of barbed comments indicating that
PARECO did not control anything, had never controlled anything, and
never would, and so on.

11. (SBU) Facilitators, citing all the reasons that the two sides
were morally obligated to reach agreement and implement the
cease-fire, were able to push them into delineating an exclusion
zone. They reached initial agreement on a northern limit at the
town of Bushenge; eastern and western limits, respectively one
kilometer to the west and two kilometers to the east of the river; a
special provision to include the entire town of Moheto in the zone;
but not on a southern limit, with PARECO wanting it to extend
considerably farther than CNDP wanted.

12. (SBU) During these negotiations, CNDP showed a welcome spirit of
cooperation, collaboration and compromise, repeatedly accepting to
cede more territory and access to the main north-south road and
hill-tops in comparison to PARECO's concessions. PARECO took a
relatively hard position on most issues. It argued that the zone
should include all the various positions that, they claimed, CNDP
had taken over since the beginning of the cease-fire. CNDP said
that it was willing to give up Moheto town, and the northern reaches
of the river, but were opposed to having the zone extend further
south than Mumba, as this would weaken their defenses of the
Kirolirwe area at a time it was expecting a PARECO/FLDR attack.

13. (SBU) Facilitators recognized that things had reached an impasse
and, as it was getting late in the day, departed to drop off the
CNDP officers in Kirolirwe and continue on back to Goma. U.S. and
EU facilitators (Jenks from USAID and Covolan from EUSEC) pulled
CNDP Colonel Antoine into their car for the hour's ride. During the
trip they told him in very strong terms that the Facilitation needed
the agreement, and more importantly that CNDP needed it. They
argued that CNDP was viewed negatively by the outside world, that it
needed to be seen collaborating and working for peaceful solutions
and that agreeing to this exclusion zone was vital.

14. (SBU) Colonel Antoine said that military considerations limited
CNDP's ability to make more concessions. Jenks and Covolan
countered that military issues were only part of the equation, that
optics and political issues were also in play and needed to be
addressed. Following this intensive browbeating, Colonel Antoine
said he would consult with Nkunda and get guidance for a follow-on
meeting in Goma on scheduled for the following day.

15. (SBU) International facilitators met as scheduled with CNDP and
PARECO on March 21. CNDP had modified its position to accommodate
PARECO's on the southern limit of the exclusion zone. This enabled
to group to reach agreement and sign a memorandum establishing the
zone. The final agreement differed somewhat from the terms outlined
in para. 10: it extends the zone south to Kasenge (what PARECO
wanted) and two kilometers west of the river (CNDP's quid pro quo.)
and includes the demilitarization of Kalonge (already agreed to but
PARECO insisted it be included in the memorandum).

16. (SBU) Colonel Antoine told us that CNDP delegates had had a long
discussion the previous evening with Nkunda, and ultimately agreed
with the logic that it had to make visible commitments to the peace
process, and that establishing this exclusion zone, even if it
disadvantaged them militarily, was part of that commitment. A/F
Special Adviser Tim Shortley had spoken with Nkunda on this and
other subjects the day before, enabling CNDP to hear the same line
from both Washington and the Goma-based U.S. Facilitation.


KINSHASA 00000285 003 OF 003

17. (SBU) CNDP made significant concessions and ceded significant
territory in a sensitive area during the Moheto negotiations. Even
if it is ultimately in their best interests overall, CNDP
willingness to make concessions disproportionate to those made by
PARECO needs to be recognized. PARECO also deserves credit for
participating in establishment of the zone. Whatever the
motivations of both parties, we now have two of the planned three
exclusion zones established, with a third in process, a small
victory for the Goma peace process. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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