Cablegate: Goma Notes: 04/04/08 - Goma Process: The Jtcps Gets Down To

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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The Amani Program's Joint Technical Commission on
Peace and Security (JTCPS) convened for its first working session
April 4. Abbe Muholongu Malumalu was very much at the center of
things in his role as National Coordinator. Much of what happened
must have resonated deeply with the past experiences of at least the
Congolese who had been through high school. The only order of
business was to establish three initial working groups: 1)
Calendar; 2) Provincial Structures; and 3) Internal Rules. The
groups then met briefly. Participants seemed a little stunned by
the freedom all this has conferred on them, and the level of
seriousness is for now very high. End summary.

2. (SBU) After the previous day's events, which were largely
ceremonial (but important in their own right), the Amani Program's
Joint Technical Commission on Peace and Security (JTCPS) convened
for its first working session April 4 at 1500 at the secluded
Ishangu Hotel. FARDC General (a title he prefers to his official
designation as Vice Admiral) Didier Etumba assumed his role as
co-chair, but Abbe Muholongu Malumalu was very much at the center of
things in his role as National Coordinator. The other co-chair was
Jean-Michel Dumont, for the EU, which left the U.S. delegation
somewhat perplexed, as MONUC is the Commission's designated
co-chair. MONUC was almost totally absent, with only a lieutenant
colonel and a junior political officer in attendance.

3. (SBU) The 1500 opening was arranged by Dumont in a phone call to
Abbe Malumalu instead of the planned 1100 start in order to
accommodate International Facilitation commitments at the weekly
meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group Task Force (JMG-TF). Within
the Facilitation, only the U.S. has the personnel on the ground to
cover both processes at the same time. In terms of senior
representation, even MONUC does not, so the entire JTCPS rearranged
its schedule accordingly and the signatories had to hang around all
day. This may not have been entirely a bad thing, as it appears a
lot of behind-the-scenes prep work went on while several of the
facilitators were sweating out yet another JMG-TF.

4. (SBU) Once everyone was in place, execution of the meeting was
vintage Malumalu. As always, the Abbe had worked out his
stage-setter. In this case, and before any other words were spoken,
it was the distribution to the assembled members and functionaries
of their letters of appointment, accompanied by a copy of the
special issue of the Journal Officiel that had been custom-printed
at the his behest and that included under one cover all the Amani
decrees. In his softest voice, the Abbe read out each name, and
those called approached the high table to receive their letters of
appointment from the hands of the JTCPS's permanent secretary,
Maitre Rene Abandi of the CNDP. The high symbolism of the moment
can have been lost on no one, and the members-or-other-functionaries
stepped forward much like (and this can't be entirely fortuitous)
parishioners taking communion.

5. (SBU) The rest of the afternoon proceeded much like the first day
of school -- perhaps the first day of junior high, with the pupils
coming from a variety of primary schools. Again, much of what
happened much have resonated deeply with the past experiences of at
least those who had been through high school: in Congolese
high-school terms, the Abbe Recteur made a few wise comments, then
the Proviseur (General Etumba -- or maybe he was the Prefet de
discipline) proceeded to dress the pupils down and straighten them
out: Be punctual! Behave yourselves! Stick to the tasks ahead of
you! Get your work done! Our job is to bring peace to this country!
Don't you realize that the distinguished members of the Facilitation
have other things to do? All of this interspersed with ritualized
jokes of the heavier-handed francophone variety that everyone had
heard hundreds of times before and was still required to smile at.

6. (SBU) Not that everyone there had been through high school: one
of the few, timid comments from the floor was from a Mai-Mai member
worried that not everyone spoke French that well and that there
might be a need for interpreters. The Abbe stepped right up to this
one with his most winning and tolerant smile: who needs
interpreters when you have each other? Help each other! Sit with
those who don't have enough French and make sure they understand!

7. (SBU) It all worked perfectly: the conditioned reflexes clicked
in, and the pupils remained on their best behavior. One unruly
pupil did begin something that might have evolved into a rant, but
he was cut off drily by General Etumba: "Je vous retire la parole."
And, in terms of unruliness, that was that, at least for the day.

8. (SBU) The school in session, though, turned out to be of the more

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progressive kind: the first and (aside from the bestowal of the
letters of appointment) only order of business was to establish
three initial working groups: 1) Calendar (a reworking or -- it is
to be hoped -- a total rethinking of the original Acte d'Engagement
calendar; 2) Provincial Structures; 3) the ever-delicate Internal
Rules. Each of you will sign up for one of these groups. We set no
schedule or timetable, but we expect at least one of the groups to
have its assignment done and ready to present to the rest of us on
Wednesday, and we expect all of you to have completed your
assignments by next Friday. Naturally, each group will probably
want to name a moderator and a rapporteur. We will also have
resource people, who are NOT voting members of the Commission, don't
worry, but we need their help, so don't be surprised if some of
these show up to help you in your work. Choose which group you want
to join, come up to the table when you have made your choice and
sign the appropriate list. Set your own hours, work at your own

9. (SBU) At this point, a hand was raised from the floor: Sir,
wouldn't it be best if the provincial caucuses could get together to
figure out who would be most appropriate for each group? Ah, the
Abbe replied, that sounds like a good idea, let's take a break and,
if you wish to, by all means caucus in your provincial groups. It
would be astonishing if this exchange was unanticipated.

10. (SBU) The provincial groups duly withdrew into caucuses, and
there ensued about 40 minutes of earnest discussion between the
members of armed groups (and of the provincial governments) who had
a few months ago been at each others' throats (but who do have the
not-dissimilar experience of the Goma conference between them, or
most of them), or at least have been (and still are) at the throats
of the civilian population.

11. (SBU) When the session resumed, attendees stepped shyly forward
and signed up on one of the three lists, with the Abbe, the General,
the Permanent Secretary and assorted dignitaries (including 8th
Region Military Commander Vainqueur Mayala, North Kivu Vice-Governor
Feller Lutaichirwa -- the South Kivu regional government was notable
by its absence -- and, of all people, Bizima Karaha, at whose feet
all of Goma once trembled) looking benignly on. By no conceivable
coincidence, each list ended up with exactly 11 names, with
provincial and armed group representation, inevitably and
predictably, evenly distributed, the ingenious device of having
three (not two or any multiple thereof) working groups ensuring
maximum brassage.

12. (SBU) The meeting reconvened, and were given further ground
rules by the Abbe himself: the working groups were established, now
the work begins. This is a technical (he emphasized) commission,
and I remind you that you have specific tasks to plan and oversee:
disengagement, demobilization, brassage, social reintegration, and
the return and reintegration of IDPs and refugees. We are not here
to do politics -- if that's what you want to do, go find another
forum. We require reasoned arguments, not overweening position
statements. And we require confidentiality. Keep everything to
yourselves, but be sure to share among yourselves and within your
organizations: I don't want to hear that someone in some
organization is upset because he quote-unquote hadn't been informed
of something we have discussed or decided. Now, go meet in your
groups and get organized. I'll be contacting all of you
individually in the coming days, but as for any plenaries, see you
next week. The U.S. added that the working groups must think of
themselves as temporary, and that once their tasks are done, members
will go on to other tasks in other groups. The Abbe nodded

13. (SBU) The groups then met briefly. Some chose chairmen (there
is not a single woman in any of this), others decided to do this the
following day. In the Provincial Structures group, the only
decision was to meet at 9:00, and the only discussion was about
whether this would be decided by a show of hands (democratic, but
favoring those who stay in Goma) or by reasoned argument (favoring
those who have to travel some distance, and who have a case to
make). The group had both -- reasoned arguments led to a conclusive
show of hands in favor of 9:00, showing solidarity. Other groups
will meet at 9:30. There are no agendas and no scopes of work, but
it would not be surprising if there was a bit of technical
assistance at some point.

14. (SBU) Comment. Participants seemed a little stunned by the
freedom all this has conferred on them, and the level of seriousness
is for now very high. As for the International Facilitation, in a
progressive-school environment like this, we will ideally be in the
background. To continue the Congolese high-school analogy, for now

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we are the surveillants. End comment.


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