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Cablegate: Kabila Speaks Out On Bemba, Monuc in "Jeune

VZCZCXRO2145
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0740/01 1841034
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031034Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6426
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000740

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPKO KDEM PINR CG
SUBJECT: KABILA SPEAKS OUT ON BEMBA, MONUC IN "JEUNE
AFRIQUE" INTERVIEW

1. (SBU) Summary: In an interview published in the latest
edition of the weekly "Jeune Afrique," President Joseph
Kabila said he wanted "justice to take its course" concerning
Jean-Pierre Bemba. Kabila claimed Bemba tried to "physically
eliminate" him during March fighting in Kinshasa, and that
those responsible for the loss of life must be held
accountable. Bemba responded to Kabila's comments in an
interview of his own, saying he still wished to return to the
DRC but needed security "guarantees" before he could do so.
Kabila criticized MONUC, saying the peacekeeping mission
needs to be more proactive, particularly in eastern DRC. The
President responded to charges his government has gotten off
to a slow start since he was inaugurated eight months ago,
promising there would be results visible by September of this
year. End summary.

-------------------------------------
ON BEMBA: LET JUSTICE TAKE ITS COURSE
-------------------------------------

2. (U) The June 24 edition of "Jeune Afrique" published an
extended interview, which has been widely circulated in
Kinshasa, with President Joseph Kabila in which he provided
his opinions on a wide variety of topics. Congolese media
reports concerning the article have focused primarily on
Kabila's responses to questions concerning Jean-Pierre Bemba
and the possibility of his arrest should he return to the DRC
from his self-imposed exile in Portugal. Kabila said the
Attorney General has opened an inquiry into the events of
March 22-23 during which forces loyal to Bemba and Kabila
fought in downtown Kinshasa, and has asked for Bemba's
senatorial immunity to be lifted. Kabila urged repeatedly
that "justice be allowed to take its course." His comments
reflect similar statements he made during his recent visit to
South Africa.

3. (U) Kabila said those responsible for the March violence
-- in which he claimed slightly more than 100 were killed --
should be identified and brought to justice. He claimed that
Bemba's objective at the time was to assault the presidential
residence, "eliminate (him) physically," and seize power.
Responding to critics that the Congolese military had used
excessive force against Bemba's militia, Kabila argued that
the army exercised a "force completely proportional to the
threat" it faced. He questioned why the Congolese army has
been criticized when the international community said little
when the Lebanese army took action against Islamic militants
hiding in refugee camps, resulting in significant casualties.

4. (SBU) Kabila mocked Bemba for leaving the country after
his electoral defeat, noting that French presidential
candidate Segolene Royal, who won 47 percent against Nicolas
Sarkozy, decided to stay and continue her political struggle.
Kabila said Bemba left the DRC because his fight, unlike
Royal's, "had nothing to do with politics." Declaring himself
"a man of consensus," Kabila said he was not hostile to a
political overture to Bemba. He added, though, that he is not
willing to join together with "anyone who wants to sabotage
the government." Kabila said Bemba is against a government of
national unity, and that he sees no reason to beg him to join
in one.

5. (SBU) Bemba responded to Kabila's "Jeune Afrique" comments
during a June 29 interview with the Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
He said he wanted to return to the DRC as soon as possible
but needed security guarantees for himself and the political
opposition. Bemba claimed he saw in the government "the will
to muzzle all forms of opposition." He asked rhetorically
whether Kabila was trying to install a democracy or another
system, and argued that if such a system is not a democracy,
then it "can only be a dictatorship." Bemba alleged there is
no freedom of expression or movement, and that members of the
opposition fear for their security. He vowed he would not
resort to violence, saying the country needs peace, not war.

----------------------------
MONUC MUST BE MORE PROACTIVE
----------------------------

6. (U) Kabila criticized MONUC for not assuming a more
proactive role. He alleged that MONUC peacekeepers in
Kinshasa did "nothing" to stop Bemba's militia from attacking
the military and police in March, even though they were
positioned around Bemba's headquarters. Kabila added that
MONUC plays an essential role in the East, but that it must

KINSHASA 00000740 002 OF 002


now be "more effective." He said there are "a thousand and
one questions" about why there is such insecurity in eastern
DRC even though MONUC has 80 percent of its forces there.
Kabila said that if MONUC does not become more "active" and
produce better results on the ground, and that if the
Security Council does not provide it the mandate to do so,
then MONUC "will not have much reason for staying."

-------------------------------
CONFIRMS WARRANT AGAINST NKUNDA
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) Speaking about dissident General Laurent Nkunda,
Kabila reconfirmed there is an arrest warrant against him.
Kabila claimed that Nkunda is not unique, however, noting
there are numerous war criminals hiding in the Kivus who are
being sought by national and international justice, though he
did not name anyone specifically in the interview. He went on
to list the various attacks Nkunda carried out against the
government and the population, including the late 2006
fighting at Sake, which he asserted was stopped by the
Congolese military. (Comment: The army had all but dissolved
in the face of Nkunda's attack on Sake, and Nkunda's advance
was stopped only after MONUC intervened forcefully, including
the use of helicopter gunships. End comment.) Nonetheless,
Kabila complained, MONUC and the international community
would like for him to negotiate with Nkunda to end the
conflict.

-------------------------
JUST WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER
-------------------------

8. (SBU) Kabila repeatedly maintained the public would see
the results of the government's work in September of this
year. He claimed "no one is more impatient" than he is for
reform and reconstruction, and promised that 2008 would be
the year for economic revival. Kabila claimed he has been
working without rest or vacation since becoming president. He
portrayed the Congo as a giant that has been asleep for the
last 40 years and is now just beginning to awake. He promised
that any of his ministers found to be corrupt would be
immediately sent to prison.

---------------------
CHINA: A NEW PARTNER?
---------------------

9. (U) Kabila played up his country's increasing ties to
China and the number of Chinese-led development projects
being launched in the DRC. Referring to the recent African
forum in China, Kabila said he hoped one day to be able to
host a similar event in Congo to highlight China. Kabila said
the Congolese have no worries about Chinese involvement in
their country, noting it was China who offered its services
to repair Kinshasa's main airport road after the European
Union allegedly was reluctant to do so. He said if the West
were truly interested in the well-being and development of
the Congo, it should shows its willingness to engage in such
projects.

-------------------------
COMMENT: A HARD-LINE VIEW
-------------------------

10. (SBU) Kabila took a harder public line against Bemba than
he has previously, signaling that he likely has no intention
of facilitating the return of his political rival to the DRC.
While he was quick to criticize MONUC for not ensuring
complete security in the DRC, he made no mention of the role
the Congolese military should be playing. End comment.
MEECE

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