Cablegate: Goma Notes 04/16/08 - Goma Process: Back to the Business At

DE RUEHKI #0359/01 1090854
O 180854Z APR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Kinshasa 349

1. (SBU) Summary: The Goma process Joint Technical Committee on
Peace and Security debated and approved bylaws for the conduct of
internal business in Goma April 15-16. The sessions were generally
businesslike, in contrast to an earlier meeting April 12. Many of
the most egregious passages had been massaged out by the time the
draft reached the plenary, thanks in particular to the patience and
skill of the Facilitation members within the working group. Under
the rules, decision-making will be by consensus among full members;
in case of "persistent" deadlock, the Facilitation will arbitrate.
The committee will next consider provincial structures and finally
the calendar. End summary.

2. (SBU) After a dreadful session on April 12, the Goma process
Joint Technical Committee on Peace and Security (JTCPS) resumed on
April 15 and 16 to review draft bylaws (internal rules) that had
been produced over the previous week or so by a working group that
included 11 representatives of the GDRC and of the Goma signatories,
plus members of the International Facilitation and sundry "experts"
who seemed more like enforcers and overseers for the JTCPS
Co-Chairman, Vice Admiral Didier Etumba.

3. (SBU) Etumba resumed his role as co-chair, joined by MONUC's John
Almstrom April 15 and the EU's Jean-Michel Dumont April 16 (with
Almstrom gone to Bukavu). Almstrom had had a talk with Etumba after
a brush with chaos at the April 12 meeting, and it appears that
others in his entourage had as well: while occasionally subsiding
into irrelevant soliloquy, both plenaries were generally
businesslike, and purposeful work even went on (with FARDC Regional
Commander General Vainqueur Mayala and his staff, as well as various
members of the Facilitation, rushing off at various times) after
news of the terrible aviation disaster reached the meeting room (ref

4. (SBU) Etumba was on the whole courteous to his interlocutors,
cutting them off unceremoniously only when they started (as is their
wont) trailing off into obsessive ranting or ineffectual petulance.
After a free-for-all the previous Saturday, everyone seemed a bit
startled that things were once again being taken in hand and, on the
whole, they shaped up accordingly.

5. (SBU) This was fortunate, as the business at hand was sensitive
and, if mismanaged, perilous. Since the resolution of many
contentious issues had been deferred on March 9 at the time of the
parties' recommitment to the Goma process ("we can deal with that
when we consider the internal rules"), and since granting the JTCPS
the right and duty to come up with its own internal procedures had
been a key GDRC concession, a lot was riding on the outcome.

6. (SBU) It was far from clear that a workable set of rules would in
fact come out of all this; what had emerged from some of the working
group's early sessions had been scary. Many of the most egregious
passages had been massaged out by the time the draft reached the
plenary, thanks in particular to the patience and skill of the
Facilitation members within the working group (particularly EUSEC's
Lt-Col J.-L. Colovan), but there were still a few land mines in the
working draft, places where either the government or the
Facilitation had to succeed in putting their foot down or the JTCPS
would have faced serious mischief going forward. (Comment: It
probably still does, but at least some obvious openings for this are
now shut. End comment.)

7. (SBU) After having alluded loosely and dangerously to "voting"
April 12, Etumba dropped any mention of it and insisted that each
article be adopted by consensus, with objections or suggested
changes being debated and with the self-evident rightness of a
position or the clear determination of the co-chair or the
Facilitation to block a recommendation eventually prevailing. In
fact, on the key issue of JTCPS decision-making (where shifting
formulas for super-majorities and blocking minorities had a few
weeks ago been a make-or-break issue for CNDP), the working group's
draft position -- that decisions be taken by consensus and that the
Facilitation be asked to negotiate a compromise in the event of
deadlock -- was assented to without a murmur. (Comment: The
Facilitation may not fully realize what it has gotten itself into
thereby, but that will be a matter for another day. End comment.)

8. (SBU) There remain a few items that are not entirely to the
Facilitation's liking, but they are now reasonably hedged in by
qualifiers. Some key items:

-- Since who votes and who doesn't is no longer an issue, the full

KINSHASA 00000359 002 OF 003

membership of the JTCPS now unequivocally includes the co-chairs,
the permanent secretary, the Technical Harmonization Bureau and,
importantly, the entities of the Facilitation (UN, EU, US, AU,
IC/GLR -- the latter two have been notable by their absence).

-- Decision-making is by consensus among full members. In case of
"persistent" deadlock, the Facilitation is asked to arbitrate.

-- The JTCPS has reaffirmed that it deliberates and acts
autonomously with respect to the implementation of the Actes
d'Engagement, but may not revisit the terms of the latter.

-- Its main job is to set out and implement a calendar for
achieving the stated goals of the Actes. A proposal to develop a
full "work plan to implement" specific clauses but not others was
beaten back. The danger that the JTCPS could become some kind of
rump Parliament has receded.

-- After much debate, members may call themselves "Commissaires"
(which could mean either commissioners or commissars). Etumba was
among those against, pointing out that a "Commissaire de Police" is
equivalent in military rank only to a second lieutenant and that he
prefers being a general, but the demand for the title was so great
that it prevailed. Since, as many speakers pointed out, they will
not be "commissaires de" anything at all ("commissaires de paix" was
suggested at one point, which would have been a bit much,
considering who they are), the internal rules will untranslatably
grant them the protocol title of "Commissaire."

-- Co-chairmanship by and presence of the Facilitation within the
plenary and every subcommission, committee, subcommittee and working
group has been recognized. The co-chairmanship must be present (in
addition to a quorum) for a meeting to convene validly.

-- The JTCPS is headquartered and convenes in Goma, but may decide
to convene elsewhere upon a decision by the plenary.

-- The provincial "Cadres de Concertation," the only vehicle in
which real-world civic bodies (including traditional chiefs, the
provincial assemblies, the judiciary, religious institutions and
other civil-society groups) can interact with the JTCPS remain as
originally envisaged and have not become, as suggested, yet another
forum for the same ratios of armed groups-plus-GDRC to have yet more

-- There will be no provision for automatic remuneration for

-- A bizarre and overreaching provision by which the JTCPS members
would have extra-legislatively awarded themselves some kind of
blanket immunity from prosecution for their actions within the
JTCPS, for membership in banned groups, and for any and all previous
criminal activity has been twisted and scrubbed into an obscure and
reasonably harmless clause invoking Constitutional free-speech
provisions. Pending agreement on the final text, it probably has no
legal force or standing, but it makes everybody feel better.

-- A lengthy list of perks and allowances has been honed down to
more than it should be but less than it could have been. Members
are to receive: a salary; a fixed allowance for miscellaneous costs
(housing, transportation, etc.); per diems for travel; reimbursement
of medical expenses; a final lump-sum payment, of an amount to be
determined (six months' pay had been modestly recommended). The
Facilitation insisted on wording specifying that all of this must
derive exclusively from GDRC sources.

9. (SBU) The internal rules took effect immediately upon adoption by
the Plenary. Again looking slightly dazed, the group rose to its
feet and gave itself a standing ovation.

10. (SBU) Comment: This (and many other lesser but still important
points that were on the whole sensibly resolved) may not seem like
much to show for ten or so days of mind-numbing working group
discussions and two (very) long days of plenary debate, but they
measure a long journey away from much that had been loony or
dangerous. The principle of decision-making by consensus has been
reaffirmed, and its importance demonstrated. Now, on to provincial
structures (some more silly ideas to beat back there) and then on to
the calendar that is the heart of the matter.

11. (SBU) Comment, continued: At one point during the lengthy
discussion of the pseudo-amnesty, a CNDP rep stood up and said,
"Well, in fact we should suspend all activity until the Amnesty Act
has been passed." This was a provocation, not a serious proposal,

KINSHASA 00000359 003 OF 003

but it highlights a real issue. The Amnesty Act is a specific
undertaking of the Goma Actes, a solemn promise of the GDRC. The
continued absence of any visible movement toward its passage leaves
us with a land mine: any and all groups can use it as a pretext to
pull out, or threaten to, whenever it suits them. End comment.


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