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Cablegate: Kabila State of the Nation Address

VZCZCXRO9862
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1134 3531643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181643Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8932
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 KINSHASA 001134

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO CG
SUBJECT: KABILA STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

REF: KINSHASA 873

1. (U) Summary: President Joseph Kabila delivered the
constitutionally mandated State of the Nation address before
Parliament on December 13. The nationally televised speech fell on
the second anniversary of his presidential inauguration. Kabila
acknowledged security, social, and economic challenges, slow
progress on his five development priorities, and the persistent
problems of corruption and impunity. Echoing his October 9 speech
to the nation on the eve of Prime Minster Muzito's appointment
(reftel), Kabila called for national unity to address the
challenges. The leading opposition party criticized the speech as
an admission of failure and lacking in specific plan for action.
End Summary.

2. (U) Kabila alluded to recent diplomatic initiatives at national
and international levels to resolve security challenges in the
eastern DRC and improve regional relations. He acknowledged a lack
of progress on the five development priorities ("cinq chantiers" in
French -- a major theme of his election campaign in 2006) but called
them achievable goals nonetheless. He cited a road improvement
project in Katanga and the rehabilitation of a water treatment plant
in Kinshasa as examples of progress on development priorities.

3. (U) Turning to social issues, Kabila suggested that the recent
importation of 700 tractors will increase agricultural capacity and
decrease the DRC's dependence on food imports. Kabila reiterated
his faith in the judicial system despite its history of corruption.
He warned, however, that an independent judiciary is not above the
law itself. He saluted the efforts of Parliament in exercising its
oversight function. He noted the importance of the role of
political opposition to the democratic process, good governance, and
development.

4. (U) Leading opposition party MLC ("Mouvement de Liberation du
Congo" in French) criticized the speech harshly in a December 16
press statement. The statement called the speech an "admission of
impotence" and noted that the peace and security promised to eastern
voters "remains an illusion". The MLC also derided Kabila's
denunciation of corruption, noting the absence of prosecutions and
failure to identify specific measures to combat corruption.
Finally, MLC labeled the Kabila presidency a "failure of a militant
and partisan exercise of power" and called on Kabila to open the
political dialogue requested by the opposition since 2007.

5. (SBU) Comment: Kabila's speech was long on rhetoric and short
on substance. He emphasized the increasing diplomatic and political
initiatives to resolve the crisis in the east (Note: Not unexpected,
as Kabila is now forced to take a diplomatic course due to the
collapse of his armed forces in late October when they failed to
disarm rebel groups. End note.). The speech acknowledged the
potential difficult financial and social times ahead, and included a
call, much as in the October 9 speech, to national unity in the face
of difficulty. In the end, Kabila made the best of a bad situation,
going through the motions of addressing the nation - and fulfilling
his constitutional duties - even though his message was lacking in
substance and almost certainly failed to inspire the citizens of his
country. End Comment.

GARVELINK

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