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Cablegate: Another Step Along a Rocky Road: Belgian Ministers Visit

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PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0410/01 1321347
ZNY EEEEE ZZH
P 111347Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7966
INFO RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 4649
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS EFTO SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000410

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SENSITIVE
NOFORN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EMIN CG BE
SUBJECT: ANOTHER STEP ALONG A ROCKY ROAD: BELGIAN MINISTERS VISIT
DRC


1. (SBU/NF) Summary: Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht's
meetings with President Kabila April 20-21 in Kinshasa aggravated
pre-existing bilateral tensions on both sides. Belgian Ministers of
Defense and International Cooperation accompanied De Gucht during
his April 20-26 visit to the DRC. The Belgians also met with port
officials in Bas-Congo, authorities in Lubumbashi, Amani Process
officials in North Kivu, and international and local NGO's in Goma
and Bukavu. At an April 28 breakfast with Western ambassadors the
Belgians were critical of Congolese Defense Minister Chikez and
called for greater cooperation between donors. Chikez later told us
the Belgians, particularly De Gucht, had treated Kabila in ways
unbecoming a sovereign head of state and had even criticized the
President in front of his advisors. Bilateral relations between
Belgium and the DRC, never smooth, continue to be prickly and impact
upon the DRC's interactions with other European nations. End
summary.

2. (SBU/NF) Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, accompanied by
Defense Minister Pieter de Crem and International Cooperation
Minister Charles Michel, emphasized good governance, human rights,
corruption and transparency during his April 20-26 visit to the DRC.
DeGucht's message was not welcomed by President Kabila, who
publicly questioned Belgium's commitment to good bilateral
relations. The three Belgian ministers expressed concern over lack
of progress on these issues to Kabila in meetings on April 21 and
22. Kabila bristled at their message and tone. His statement to a
Belgian newspaper that "Belgium must decide whether it wants normal
ties or seeks a master-slave relationship" received wide play here.
A Belgian Embassy political officer told us the meetings with Kabila
were tense and confirmed the accuracy of the quote.

3. (SBU/NF) The ministers discussed economic investment and
cooperation with Matadi and Boma port officials April 22. De Crem
also met with Defense Minister Chikez Diemu to follow up meetings in
Brussels on military assistance (see para 6). Although MONUC's
Radio Okapi reported the signing of a new bilateral agreement, the
Belgian political officer said this had not happened. De Gucht and
Michel discussed mining issues with Katanga Governor Moise Katumbi
in Lubumbashi on April 23 while De Crem returned to Belgium. They
also visited two mining projects. They concluded no new agreements
or investments.

4. (SBU) De Gucht and Michel traveled to eastern DRC April 24 for a
two-day visit to Goma and Bukavu to demonstrate support for the Goma
and Nairobi processes and call attention to weaknesses of the
justice sector, the prevalence of impunity and the problem of sexual
violence. They discussed the Amani Program with National
Coordinator Apollinaire Malu Malu in Goma and accompanied him and
members of the Joint Technical Committee on Peace and Security on
public awareness missions to Masisi and Uvira.

5. (SBU/NF) The Belgian Consul General (protect) in Bukavu told us
they also met with representatives of the EU-funded Restoration of
Justice in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (REJUSCO)
program, Avocats Sans Frontieres, and MONUC-Goma's Human Rights
section to review the state of the justice system, and specifically
address the progress in establishing mobile courts. They discussed
the widespread problem of sexual violence against women with the
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and local and international
NGOs in Goma and Bukavu.

6. (SBU/NF) On April 28 the ministers met with ambassadors resident
in Kinshasa from the EU and the United States. Cooperation minister
Michel took the lead, explaining that Belgium wants the Congolese to
treat the Chinese the way they treat other donors, i.e., to require
transparency, conditionalities, etc. He also called for greater
coordination between the donor community, including regular
systematic reviews of what all countries are doing in order to avoid
duplication, etc. Defense minister De Crem was critical of his
counterpart Chikez, referring to an earlier meeting with Chikez in
which the Congolese officially allegedly made request for assistance
in areas that are not related to the military. (Note: Chikez later
told us the Belgians, particularly De Gucht, had treated Kabila in
ways unbecoming a sovereign head of state and had even criticized
the President in front of his advisors. End note.)

7. (SBU/NF) Comment: Belgian-DRC relations, never smooth, continue
to be conflicted. Senior Belgian officials visit the Congo
frequently, raising important issues like human rights, justice and
corruption, but in a manner that appears pitched more to audiences
back home than to their Congolese counterparts. This hobbles the
relationship with Kabila and his advisers and often spills over onto
a wider stage, impacting negatively on DRC relations with other

KINSHASA 00000410 002 OF 002


European nations. End comment.

GARVELINK

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