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Cablegate: Goma Notes 03/26/08 - Briefing in Beni

VZCZCXYZ0043
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKI #0301/01 0871127
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271127Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7735
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000301

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS MARR PGOV SOCI KPKO CG UN UG
SUBJECT: GOMA NOTES 03/26/08 - BRIEFING IN BENI

REF: Kinshasa 283

1. (SBU) Summary: MONUC assesses the situation in North Kivu's
Grand Nord region as much calmer than that further south near Goma.
Combat is occurring only between PARECO and FDLR/RUD forces
southwest of Lubero, with relatively limited disruption. There is a
significant presence of foreign armed groups in the region;
FDLR/FOCA is particularly well-integrated into the local community.
Reliable estimates of these groups' numbers remain elusive. MONUC
has established bases at Kokola and Kanango to pressure FDLR
positions. Many FARDC troops have been moved out of the region, and
the three battalions that remain are not prepared to undertake
meaningful operations against the FDLR. End summary.

2. (SBU) Lt. Colonel Santosh Nair, commander of MONUC forces based
in Beni in the Grand Nord region of North Kivu, led a staff briefing
for USAID Liaison Officer March 26, 2008 about cease-fire
violations, negative forces and the general state of play in the
region. Highlights of that briefing follow.

Overview
--------

3. (SBU) The overall situation is much calmer than further south in
the Goma hinterlands of the Petit Nord. No Goma process ceasefire
violations have been recorded, with the exception of the FARDC tank
movement south from Beni (reftel). This is primarily due to the
fact that no Congolese armed groups are currently facing off against
each other. Active or semi-active combat is occurring only between
PARECO and the RUD faction of the FDLR, southwest of Lubero. This
is producing new IDPs and disruption. Ex-combatants, many of whom
have not been properly reintegrated, are floating around cities and
major towns, and are a source of instability. However, this is a
chronic, rather than acute, problem.

"Negative forces"
-----------------

4. (SBU) There is a significant presence of "negative forces" in
the Grand Nord. Foreign armed groups include:

-- ADF/NALU. East and northeast of Beni toward the Ugandan border.
They avoid contact with MONUC and the FARDC so MONUC is not certain
of their precise location. They have also reportedly moved to areas
east of Butembo. MONUC estimates they number 400-500 and are 60 per
cent Congolese. They use North Kivu as a sanctuary, and have no
economic interests in the DRC. They do not harass or brutalize the
local populations in areas they are occupying. They are quiescent
at this time and are not mounting any armed offensives in Uganda.

-- FDLR/FOCA. West of Lubero, extending down to north of
Kanyabayonga, and farther south to near Rwindi. There is also a
pocket south of Lake Edward in the Virungas. They are fully in
charge of the areas they control, providing security, administration
and tax collection. They are firmly integrated into the communities
and getting along with their lives in a fashion that would be judged
to be normal if they were not armed and organized as a fighting
force. They do not brutalize or harass the local population, and
have perhaps 1,000 men under arms (light weapons, mortars and
rockets.) FOCA has a lock on the area around Fatua, where gold
mining is king. Gold -- not Congolese francs or dollars -- is the
medium of exchange. FOCA take 8 per cent of all commercial
transactions, payable in gold, as taxes.

-- FDLR/RUD. Southwest of Lubero, west of Kanyabayonga. Less
radical than FOCA. Still led by General Mushaere.

5. (SBU) Congolese armed groups in the Grand Nord include:

-- PARECO (La Fontaine). Southwest of Lubero, spread out but
concentrated between Bingi and Buniatenge. Claim to have 1,000
fighters, but MONUC estimates 150-200, including many minors.
Currently involved in clashes with RUD.

-- Vurondo Mai-Mai. Southwest of Beni and northwest of Butembo,
near the town of Vurondo. Seems to have split into three factions:
General Baraka faction -- small, with 15 officers; Vurondo
faction,"riffraff," in MONUC's characterization; Hundule faction --
10 officers. (Note: This is not the story told us by Mai-Mai
spokesman Didier Bitaki and Colonel Mbusa Ndime, the latter from the
Vurondo Mai-Mai. End note.)

-- Rwenzori Mai-Mai. West bank of Lake Edward in the forest. They
apparently moved to this area around the time of the Goma
conference. In MONUC's assessment, not a real group. They cannot
produce any fighters when asked to do so. (Note: This tracks with
Bitaki's assessment. End note.)

-- MRC. A big question mark. Unconfirmed rumors place them in the
Grand Nord, but if they are, they have less than 100 men under arms
and are east-northeast of Beni. It is not clear whether the group,
if it exists, is loyal -- or not -- to Nkunda.

-- CUDTE/ACOA. Same questions, same general area.

Goma and Nairobi processes
--------------------------

6. (SBU) Nairobi process:

-- MONUC has established a mobile operating base (MOB) at Kokola
and a helicopter operating base (HOB) at Kanango to put pressure on
FDLR positions in the Grand Nord.
-- FARDC has only three battalions in the region, which are not
prepared to undertake any meaningful operations against the FDLR.
Many troops have been moved to the Petit Nord, and others are in
training in Nyaleke.
-- FDLR deserters average one per week from RUD and zero from
FOCA.

7. (SBU) Goma process: there do not seem to be any major issues in
the Grand Nord.

GARVELINK

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