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Cablegate: Mission Officer Goma Escapes Serious Injury When Un Car

VZCZCXRO2949
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0599/01 2040708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220708Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8211
INFO 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 SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000599

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KPKO CG RW
SUBJECT: MISSION OFFICER GOMA ESCAPES SERIOUS INJURY WHEN UN CAR
OVERTURNS ON ILL-FATED JULY 18 FIELD TRIP TO TERRITORY HELD BY
IRREGULAR ARMED GROUPS

1. (SBU) Summary: Mission officer Nicholas Jenks and a small
party of international functionaries assigned to Goma undertook to
visit territory held by irregular armed groups in outlying areas on
Friday, July 18, together with "Museveni" (nom de guerre),
representing the PARECO insurgency. The party was accosted by
hostile crowds on two separate occasions but was finally allowed to
leave without harm. The car carrying Jenks and other members of his
party overturned after nightfall during the return trip to Goma. No
serious injuries were sustained, although several party members
received cuts and bruises and were treated by MONUC medical
personnel. CNDP actions in harassing the party during the field
were clearly planned and particularly unhelpful. End summary.

2. (U) Mission officer Nicholas Jenks departed Goma at 9:00 am July
18 and not at 8:00 am as planned because of confusion over departure
time and location by Museveni, the PARECO representative in Goma
and/or MONUC staff. Also making the trip were Thomas Pravda from
the UK Embassy, Gloria Fernandez, Director of OCHA for the DRC,
and Patrick Lanvand'homme, head of OCHA for North Kivu. An hour
later, having arrived in Masisi (CNDP territory), Jenks' party was
supposed to meet the MONUC escort in Bihambwe, but was unable to do
so and had to double back to Osso to the South African SCD (standing
combat deployment), which kindly agreed to escort the party,
resulting in the loss of another hour. Progress west through Kibabi
and through the "exclusion zone" was without incident, and the party
arrived at Kiningi (first town in PARECO territory) to find that
Hassan Mugabo, a PARECO leader with whom the party had arranged to
meet, was not in Kiningi as agreed on, but rather in a place called
Luke. Having been told it was close by, party proceeded towards
Luke, but it turned out to be an additional hour's drive. In Luke,
the party found it was market day, and Mugabo was holding a town
hall meeting. He broke away from that meeting to receive Jenks and
the other members of the party.

3. (U) At this point Museveni reverted to previous behavior and
attempted to portray himself as leading the delegation and setting
the agenda. Jenks told him, not with great politeness, that he was
leading no delegation and that the trip was driven by the agenda.
Party met with Mugabo (now styling himself as "general") for about
20 minutes, and asked the following questions and made the following
points:

-- Did Mugabo agree to meet Roeland van de Geer, Malu Malu and the
facilitation on Wednesday morning in Kiningi? He agreed to be
there.
-- All North Kivu armed groups needed to stop brutalizing the
population, and (while not singling PARECO out for any more
criticism than any other group) PARECO needed to stop all such
behavior.
-- PARECO needed to ensure security for NGO's working in Masisi
(Note: MSF/Belgium is pulling up stakes. End note)

4. (U) PARECO responded (Mugabo himself saying very little but
giving party a document setting forth their concerns) that:

-- CNDP commits abuses and then tries to make it look like it was
PARECO.
-- PARECO has captured a Rwandese national from CNDP.
-- CNDP recently raped nine women in the Muheto exclusion zone.
-- CNDP refuses to let trucks into this part of PARECO territory,
and the population cannot sell its surplus production.
-- MONUC needs to deploy a SCD to Mema and do more patrolling of the
exclusion zone.
-- PARECO will go to brassage after CNDP disarms.

5. (U) On the way back, party passed the Muheto exclusion zone
without incident, and entered into CNDP territory at Kibabi 2 (Note:
there are actually two Kibabis - 1 and 2.) In Kibabi 1 the trip
became interesting. The party's caravan consisted of an escort car
in first position, the OCHA car second, and a MONUC car carrying
MONUC staff and Museveni third. The first two cars got through, but
the civilian population blocked the third car with a boulder in the
road and a large crowd who refused to let it proceed. Facilitation
went back to sort this out, later supplemented by MONUC blue
helmets. The population was rowdy and displayed negative body
language, and said they wanted to "talk" to Museveni. Party
refused, asserting that Museveni was under UN protection in a
UN/diplomatic convoy, and that they had to get out of the way.
Party removed the boulder and crowd put it back. Crowd physically
restrained the vehicle by means of interposing itself and, in one
person's case, by trying physically to push the vehicle backward.
After a few minutes of this back and forth, the party was able to
get the vehicle loose, and sent it on its way, this time in the
front of the convoy.

KINSHASA 00000599 002 OF 002

6. (U) Party decided it was likely to encounter more of the same in
Mushake, the most heavily fortified CNDP town in the area and which
also boasts a serious roadblock. So, instead of leaving out its
escort in Osso, party prevailed on MONUC's South African captain to
send the escort with the party all the way to Sake. He and his
soldiers accepted gracefully and, sure enough, events repeated
themselves in Mushake. As the party approached the roadblock, CNDP
moved a large blue truck into position to completely block the road
on the other side of the barrier. Approximately 40 CNDP soldiers
and a larger number of civilians were present waiting for the
convoy. Sensing a situation was developing, Pravda and Jenks went
to see what was going on. CNDP said there were FDLR members in the
vehicles, which Jenks and Pravda denied. CNDP then spotted Museveni
and invited him out of the vehicle. He complied; Pravda and Jenks
interposed themselves to prevent CNDP from harming Museveni.

7. (U) There followed some ten minutes of hostile words and
negative body language from CNDP, while Jenks and Pravda explained
that this was a diplomatic convoy; they were not under any
obligation to ask for, nor would they seek to attain, CNDP prior
approval to take anyone through CNDP territory; and that Museveni
was under their protection. It was difficult to identify the senior
CNDP person present and the situation was somewhat confused. This
continued for quite some time, with the crowd getting a bit larger,
but not in any way out of control, and OCHA on the satellite phone
to MONUC in Goma, which set in motion the sending of reinforcements.
Suddenly a CNDP Colonel who Jenks had met in Kirolirwe on a
previous occasion arrived and, after the usual back and forth, said
he knew Jenks and what his party was doing, asking what he needed to
do. Jenks told him he needed to unblock the road and let the party
proceed; the Colonel complied immediately. At that point the
nature of the encounter changed dramatically: phone numbers and
pleasantries were exchanged; Museveni was greeted as a brother and
invited to return and stay with them; and all was very friendly.
The party departed with a show of good will on all sides.

8. (U) It was now dark and the road very dusty; the closest safe
haven was Sake. The party wanted to keep the convoy in close
formation, which it did, until the driver -- due to dust and
darkness -- inadvertently drove into a ravine which had taken over
half of the roadbed. Down the car went, with the vehicle about six
feet below road level, tilted about 120 degrees. All passengers
were shaken and two had minor abrasions. The party climbed out of
the car and left the ravine with the help of a motorcyclist shining
his headlamp on the scene and giving party members a hand coming
out. The rest of the convoy returned shortly, the South African
soldiers (who were superb throughout the day) retrieved backpacks
and personal effects, and the party continued on to Sake and Goma.
The Level III hospital in Goma disinfected small cuts and scratches,
gave party members tetanus shots, gave Pravda one stitch in his
forehead, gave out painkillers and discharged the group. MONUC's
Alpha Sow, Colonel Cunliffe, and Major Sanjay arrived to make sure
all was right and Deputy SRSG Ross Mountain called to express his
concern. Thus ended another day in the life of the U.S. Mission's
officer in Goma, in the wild, wild east of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo.

9. (SBU) Comment: CNDP behavior as described above was highly
unhelpful. It is clear that they had received information on the
party's passage after Kibabi and set up their "reception committee"
at Mushake. This was in no way unplanned. Ultimately the party
ended up with a number of "IOU's" that can be cashed in the future.
PARECO is in Jenks' debt, and CNDP's leaders will be told at a
convenient time about how badly their followers behaved. End
comment.
GARVELINK

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