Cablegate: Catholic Cardinal Issues Incendiary Statement Re

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1. (SBU) Summary: The Catholic Cardinal of Kinshasa,
Frederic Etsou, conducted a November 13 interview from Paris
with Radio France International(RFI)where he is being treated
for illness , and issued a written statement, attacking the
integrity of the DRC elections and accusing the West of
seeking to impose a president. In the current tense climate
of Kinshasa just prior to an expected announcement of
election results, and given the importance of the Catholic
Church, the statements pour fuel on a potential fire in
Kinshasa. We strongly urge that Embassy Vatican express USG
concerns about the statement and interview centered on the
partisan nature of the comments, and the potential for
contributing to renewed and serious violence in the DRC. End

2. (U) Cardinal Frederic Etsou, Catholic Cardinal of Kinshasa
and the ranking member of the Catholic Church hierarchy in
the DRC, conducted an interview with RFI on Monday, November
13 explicitly casting doubt on the validity of election
results posted to-date by the Congolese Independent Electoral
Commission (CEI). In addition, Etsou issued a written
statement (informal translation below), explicitly calling on
foreign government to cease interfering in the Congo,
suggesting that the "West and the USA" are seeking to impose
a president on the Congolese people, and reinforcing the idea
that major electoral fraud is in the process of being

3. (SBU) The interview and statement specifically picks up
and essentially summarizes a series of charges by radical
politicians in the DRC who are seeking to undermine the
ongoing electoral process. Given the very significant
influence of the Catholic Church in the DRC and existing
general tension, particularly in Kinshasa, the statement
could have a major incendiary effect to give rise to renewed
violence in the capital. (Note: The CEI is expected to
announce in coming days the total "provisional" results, long
regarded as the most sensitive time of the DRC's long
transition period. End note) The Cardinal's observations in
the interview and statements fly in the face of all
observations by the substantial corps of international and
national observers in the DRC, who have all attested in
statements to-date that the elections and subsequent vote
compilation appear fundamentally sound. Indeed, the general
consensus by the 16 members of the International Committee to
Accompany the Transition (CIAT) and observers has been that
the electoral process has represented a great success. The
Cardinal's statements certainly also run precisely counter to
that of numerous foreign senior African and Western
officials, as well as responsible Congolese leaders
(including Congolese Church leaders), seeking to reinforce a
general atmosphere of calm, and to head off renewed violence.

4. (SBU) The CIAT conducted an extraordinary meeting November
14 to discuss the current situation. All 16 members shared a
high degree of concern over the Cardinal's statements and the
potential impact in Kinshasa particularly and the DRC
generally. Some members observed that the statement is
likely to exacerbate divisions within the Church itself in
the Congo, but in any case could have no beneficial effect.
Members speculated as to what the Cardinal's motives may have
been, with several reduced to speculation that the Cardinal,
aging and ailing in Europe, may have been manipulated by
others pushing their own agenda. The Cardinal's written
statement is itself rather sloppily drafted, referring for
example to "EUFOROR" (an apparent reference to EUFOR, the
European Standby Force), the European Union delegation as
distinct from the CIAT (the EU Presidency and Commission are
members of the CIAT), and the "West and the U.S.A." also as
separate entities.

5. (SBU) CIAT members debated several methods of seeking to
mitigate the negative effect of the Cardinal's statement
without seeming to directly attack the Cardinal or the
Catholic Church. CEI President Abbe Malu Malu, himself a
priest, plans a press conference the evening of November 14,
and he can be expected to respond in some fashion to the
statement. CIAT members also agreed to urge observer groups,
particularly the group of over 10,000 observers representing
religious faiths and also headed by a Catholic, to make a
public statement as soon as possible asserting the views they
have already communicated to us. These affirm that CEI
results to-date correspond to their own observations, and to
the basic integrity of the electoral process. The Nuncio in

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Kinshasa in earlier conversations, asserted that he needed to
see the full text for the Cardinal's statement before being
able to comment further. The CIAT plans to meet again the
morning of November 15 to review further options.

6. (SBU) Action requested: Post strongly urges the
Department request Embassy Vatican as soon as possible to
express USG concerns over the Cardinal's statements and their
dangerous potential effects in a volatile environment to the
Vatican Secretariat. The partisan character of the comments,
essentially picking up all major themes of critics of
President Kabila, is of concern itself, but the real danger
is the contribution the comments could make to feed renewed
violence in the country, and in particular the capital. Any
steps the Vatican could take to mitigate the thrust of the
statements and help calm general tension would be most
helpful. Given existing tensions, and that the CEI may be at
a point of an election announcement at any time, such a
demarche is urgent.

6. (U) Informal translation:

Declaration by His Eminence Cardinal Etsou Nzabi Bamungwabi
Archbishop of Kinshasa on the Coming Electoral Verdict in the

To You, my dear faithful of Kinshasa,
To the CEI,
To the CIAT,
To the Delegation of the European Union
To EUROFOR (sic),

I sincerely thank you, my dear parishioners, for your high
degree of responsibility and love for our Homeland which
motivated your joy to go vote, on October 29, for the one who
will be called to the High Office of President and will, with
the people, have to pull our country out of the economic and
social morass and stagnation where it has been thrown and to
guide it toward a better tomorrow of peace, justice,
prosperity and dignity.

I congratulate you for your courage and your determination to
end this long transition by way of the ballot box.

You have thereby confirmed before the International Community
that the Congolese people are free and sovereign to choose
their own President and his administrators.

I call upon the CEI, the CIAT, MONUC, the Delegation of the
European Union in the DRC strictly to respect the result
summaries as recorded at each polling station, collected and
aproved by the political party witnesses, by your own
representatives, by the Carter Foundation as well as by other
credible institutions which saw fit to accompany the DRC in
the last phase of the birth of the future executive.

I firmly say no and again no to any sort of maneuver which
would threaten the free, transparent and democratic choice of
the Congolese people, and which would risk throwing the
country into useless confusion.

The International Community should cease all efforts to
impose on the Congolese people the one they have not chosen
as President. All such attempts would be a grave,
irresponsible act and could jeopardize and diminish all which
makes up the pride and prestige of the West and the USA.
Therefore no, to fraudulent manipulation of the ballot boxes.
No, to that which is not the will of the Congolese people.
No, to all attempts to impose on the Congolese people a
candidate expected merely to satisfy the gluttonous and
predatory appetites of his foreign commanders for the surface
and underground resources of the Congo.

To officials of the CEI, particularly Abbe Apollinaire Malu
Malu, we call upon you to declare and announce true and
credible results which reflect the true vote of the
Congolese, necessary for a true peace and the beginning of a
new era of reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, of respect for its sovereignty and national unity. We
want peace through the ballot box. We want peace.

May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Suffering, inspire feelings
of pity toward the people who have so long suffered because

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of everyone's selfishness, including that of the Congolese
who, for money or power, lend themselves to jeopardizing the
future of their country, pushing aside the fundamental rights
of the Congolese people.

To you, my dear faithful of Kinshasa, to you Congolese,
courage and patience. May God bless the DRC, may he grant us
peace, understanding and love to reconstruct our country and
deliver it from misery and poverty.

My blessing also goes with you!


(end text)

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