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Cablegate: Drc: Scenesetter for Codel Feingold (August 24-26,

DE RUEHKI #0983/01 2291230
P 171230Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The Democratic Republic of the Congo is
slowly feeling its way in the search for solutions to
fundamental governance, security and development challenges
following historic 2006 national elections. Achievements to
date, the promise of peace and democratization, and the
importance of the DRC as the linchpin of central Africa and
beyond have made it one of the Department's seven priority
assistance countries in Africa. Your visit will reinforce
U.S. commitment to a long partnership with the Congolese
people to develop democratic institutions and reinforce our
shared objective of a peaceful and prosperous DRC. End

2. (SBU) Your August 24-26 visit to the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, on the heels of recent visits by the Ugandan
Foreign Minister and by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
will be the first visit by a senior U.S. official since the
installation of the DRC's first freely and democratically
elected government in over 40 years. It comes at a critical
time following a difficult transition from dictatorship,
mismanagement and devastating wars and provides a timely
opportunity to build on the successful presidential and
parliamentary elections in 2006. The electoral process
produced a government which is now confronting the challenges
of developing democratic institutions amid popular
expectations of change. This situation calls for continued
and sustained U.S. engagement in a country the size of
western Europe that could be the linchpin for the development
of all of central Africa.

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3. (SBU) The Department's 2006 decision to identify the DRC
as one of seven priority assistance countries in Africa
reflected achievements to date, the promise of the peace and
democratization processes, and the country's importance to
regional stability and development. Our assistance program
fully supports and reflects the transformational diplomacy
goals laid out by the Secretary. The Mission's overriding
policy goals focus on implanting a culture of democracy and
accountable governance, while promoting broad economic
development in a stable Congo at peace with its neighbors and
itself. USAID's 2006 budget for DRC programs totaled USD 68
million, including funds received from central accounts but
excluding IFDA (disaster assistance). Comparable figures for
2007 have risen to USD 71 million (with supplemental
funding), and are projected to rise in 2008 to USD 80.2
million, including increases in the areas of peace and
security, governing justly and democratically, and economic


4. (SBU) The security situation remains precarious in many
areas, particularly in the eastern provinces. The Congolese
military (FARDC) suffers from weak command and control,
corruption, poor operational planning, limited training, and
questionable loyalty on the part of some troops. Military
forces are also responsible for some of the worst human
rights abuses in the country. The Kivu provinces merit
particular attention. Tensions in North and South Kivu are
on the rise. The challenges posed by dissident General
Laurent Nkunda and the Rwandan Hutu fighters of the
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are
testimony to long-standing and unresolved differences among
local communities. In South Kivu, the Congolese military
launched operations in July 2007 against a small group of
armed insurgents, most of whom belong to a specific Congolese
Tutsi ethnic sub-group called Banyamulenge. Government
officials are currently planning for an inter-ethnic
conference to be held at the end of September to address
specific issues and grievances.

5. (SBU) The government's approach to military integration in
the Kivus has added to security concerns. In January 2007
the government abandoned its traditional integration program
-- known as "brassage" -- in favor of a new arrangement that
"mixed" soldiers loyal to Nkunda and pro-government forces
into new units. The "brassage" process attempted to break up
former chains of command and regional ties by combining
troops from different armed groups, providing them with a
common training plan, and dispatching them away from their
past area of operations. By contrast, "mixage" kept these
new units in North Kivu, allowing pro-Nkunda elements to

KINSHASA 00000983 002 OF 005

spread their influence and control throughout the province.
The deployment of these forces -- particularly of the Nkunda
loyalists who had recently fought against some of the local
population where they were now stationed -- exacerbated
ethnic tensions, increased security fears, and contributed to
a deterioration in the province's humanitarian situation.

6. (SBU) Foreign armed groups operating in the DRC are a
source of friction between the Congo and its neighbors.
While the number of foreign fighters has diminished in recent
years, they still pose a threat to a country's overall
security and stability, and the FARDC has been largely unable
to eliminate them. The FDLR, formed from the remnants of the
Army for the Liberation of Rwanda and former Interahamwe
fighters, remains the largest of these groups, with
approximately 6,000-8,000 combatants in the Kivus. An
estimated 500 members of the Allied Democratic
Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU)
operate in northeastern North Kivu along the Ugandan border.
In addition, a small number of fighters with the Lord's
Resistance Army operate in a remote northern section of
Garamba National Park on the Sudanese border.

7. (SBU) The Congo's relations with its nine neighbors are
relatively peaceful, though there are some underlying
problems. The USG-facilitated Tripartite Plus Commission --
composed of the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi -- has made
progress in reducing general cross-border tensions in the
Great Lakes region, but greater political will is needed to
normalize relations. The last meeting of the Commission in
June 2007 produced wide agreement to work cooperatively to
negate the influence of the region's armed groups, and
foreign ministers plan to meet again in Kampala in September.
Poorly-defined borders have become a recent cause for
concern. The Congolese government (GDRC) and Angola remain
at odds over control of a strip of land in a diamond-rich
frontier area, resulting in a outcries of protest in the
Kinshasa press. Both have agreed to resolve the disagreement
via a technical boundary demarcation with assistance from
former colonial powers Belgium and Portugal. In early
August, Ugandan and Congolese military forces exchanged fire
in Lake Albert, bordering Uganda and the DRC's northeastern
Ituri District, after an oil exploration team reportedly
crossed into DRC territory. The dispute centers on a small
piece of land occupied by Congolese but claimed by Uganda;
both sides have agreed to establish a joint commission to
resolve the issue.

8. (SBU) Donor-funded security sector reform (SSR) and
disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs
have achieved mixed success at best, and low-level conflict
remains in many eastern areas. More than 70,000 combatants
remain to be disarmed and demobilized nationwide. A new
phase of DDR in Ituri, with USD 500,000 from USAID, was
launched in early August 2007 with the aim of demobilizing an
estimated 4,500 militia members. The European Union has long
had a major involvement in the security sector, including
established European Security (EUSEC) and European Police
(EUPOL) missions directing programs in the Congo. Other EU
countries, notably France and Belgium, have provided
substantial funding support. South Africa and Angola have
also played major roles, including the training and equipping
of integrated military brigades.

9. (SBU) USG involvement in security sector reform has
received relatively little funding, but we anticipate
additional activities in the near future. A training program
for brigade-level officers is ongoing in Kinshasa. Thanks to
USD 5 million in funding from FY2006 PKO funds, we plan to
rehabilitate the officer training academy, provide officer
training, and make significant investment in the military
justice system. IMET funds U.S.-based courses that include
English-language training. NADR currently funds destruction
of obsolete ordnance. For FY2008, USD 8.4 million already
allocated from FMF, INCLE, NADR and PKO funds will enable
greater involvement in SSR activities including, for the
first time, police training.


10. (SBU) The Congolese people continue to hold high
expectations that the democratic process will improve their

KINSHASA 00000983 003 OF 005

lives. The relatively high voter turnout in the July and
October 2006 presidential and legislative elections
demonstrated citizens' engagement. The new institutions have
been slow to generate momentum. The National Assembly and
Senate have only a small number of members with legislative
or government experience and are just beginning to consider a
backlog of important legislation. Provincial officials,
lacking resources, money and experience, are unfamiliar with
exercising newly-decentralized authority. Elections for
local and municipal officials are tentatively scheduled for

11. (SBU) The role of the political opposition, as well as
its rights and responsibilities, remain to be defined.
Parties and candidates aligned with the Alliance for the
Presidential Majority (AMP), Kabila's electoral coalition,
won majorities in the National Assembly and Senate, as well
as eight of eleven provincial assemblies and ten of eleven
gubernatorial contests -- leaving the opposition with little
apparent political clout. The National Assembly and Senate
passed legislation giving the Opposition certain protections
and rights, and a conference bill is scheduled for debate in
September. Prominent opposition figure Jean-Pierre Bemba
departed for Portugal in April 2007, following fighting in
Kinshasa between government troops and his forces. He
remains there in de facto political exile. Members of his
party claim security forces harass their members and have
attempted to muzzle their media outlets. Bemba has
conditioned his return on concessions concerning his personal

12. (SBU) USG governance and institutional reform programs,
budgeted at USD 10.2 million for FY2007 and a proposed USD 20
million for FY 2008, focus on combating corruption and human
rights abuses, developing independent judicial and
legislative institutions, and facilitating decentralized
state authority. Their objectives incorporate long-term
transformation as well as direct citizen access to services.
We continue to work with National Assembly deputies on
drafting key legislative proposals, including laws relating
to the financing of political parties, decentralization, the
establishment of a national election commission, and the
protection of human rights. We have also conducted
capacity-building seminars for deputies and their staffs,
supported the creation of provincial watchdog and advocacy
groups to encourage citizen participation in democratic
processes, and worked to develop skills of political party
members, foster grassroots anti-corruption initiatives, and
establish mobile courts and legal aid clinics.


13. (SBU) The Congolese population, estimated at over 60
million people, has not benefited from the country's vast
array of natural resources (minerals, forests, hydroelectric
potential). With over 90 percent unemployment and an
informal sector that rivals the formal economy, most people
survive on less than one dollar a day. Despite annual GDP
growth since 2003 of over five percent, per capita GDP is
only just over USD 100. It is estimated that at the current
growth rate, it will take until the middle of this century
for per capita income to reach pre-independence levels.

14. (SBU) Despite some progress on macroeconomic and
financial reform objectives since 2003, the International
Monetary Fund Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)
lapsed in April 2006, due mainly to continued government
overspending. This resulted in further losses of outside
assistance for a budget of only USD 2 billion in 2006. The
DRC has been granted Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)
status, but with no PRGF in place, is not making progress
toward achieving the debt reduction envisioned. If an IMF
program can be renegotiated before the end of 2007, the DRC
could see some debt forgiveness (including nearly half a
billion dollars still owed to the U.S.) by the end of 2008.

15. (SBU) The 2007 budget, signed into law by President
Kabila in the second half of this year, calls for an
unrealistic expenditure level of USD 2.4 billion, much of it
for government salaries (including civil servants, public
school teachers and military personnel) and the security
sector. Without much-needed outside budget support, the GDRC

KINSHASA 00000983 004 OF 005

faces large deficits again in 2007, which historically it has
reacted to with large amounts of currency issuance. The GDRC
is normally able to support less than half of its budget from
revenues. So far in 2007, GDRC spending has been strictly
contained within budgetary limits, but many of its expenses
come due only during the last quarter of the year.

16. (SBU) The GDRC is attempting to implement its Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) as approved in mid-2006 by
the IMF and World Bank boards. The five-year government
program approved by the National Assembly in February 2007 is
based on the PRSP and focuses heavily on the five areas
highlighted by President Kabila in his campaign:
infrastructure, employment, education, water/electricity, and
health. Economic growth depends upon all of these
objectives, but the GDRC will need to dramatically increase
revenues from the natural resource sector, continue to
control spending, and renegotiate an IMF program if it is to
achieve debt relief and obtain additional outside budget

17. (SBU) The USG is an active participant in the
international donors' Country Assistance Framework (CAF)
process for the period 2007-10, designed to align assistance
strategies and support GDRC efforts to implement the PRSP.
USG programs in support of economic growth are fairly modest,
with USD 4 million going to agricultural production, but this
may be doubled for FY2008. U.S. commercial interests in the
DRC are small but growing, with an American company running
the largest flour mill in the country and an American mining
company gearing up to produce an estimated 100,000 tons of
copper metal by the end of 2008. USAID and the British
Department for International Development (DFID) are
collaborating on efforts to help the GDRC implement the
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). USAID,
through the Central African Regional Program for the
Environment (CARPE) and the Congo Basin Forestry Partnership
(CBFP) is working to promoted better management of the
forestry sector. Finally, a U.S. Trade and Development
Agency (USTDA) initiative is looking at the hydroelectricity
and transportation (river and rail) sectors for opportunities
for U.S. business contributions to DRC infrastructure.


18. (SBU) Disaster relief and food assistance funds represent
approximately one-half of all U.S. foreign assistance to the
DRC, excluding support to MONUC. Four million people are
estimated to have died as a consequence of 10 years of war
and conflict. Low-level combat continues to cause
large-scale population displacements in eastern areas of the
country. Many social and economic support structures have
collapsed as a result of neglect, corruption and lack of
resources, leaving victims without livelihoods, access to
medical services and in many cases, places to live.

19. (SBU) A July 2007 report from the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance estimated there are
more than 1.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in
the DRC, most in the eastern regions of North Kivu, South
Kivu and Ituri. While the number of IDPs has substantially
decreased in Ituri in recent months, the number of displaced
in North Kivu has dramatically increased due to pervasive
insecurity. An estimated 321,000 Congolese refugees remain
in neighboring countries awaiting repatriation.

20. (SBU) Total non-food IDFA funding in FY2006 was USD 26
million. The U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
(OFDA) provides transportation and a start-up cash package to
returning IDPs, and is mounting labor-intensive road
rehabilitation programs. The USG provided USD 36 million of
food assistance in 2006, most channeled through the World
Food Program for distribution in conflict areas.


21. (SBU) Congolese social indicators are dismal: the DRC
ranked 167th out of the 177 countries in the 2006 UNDP Human
Development Report. Health indicators are among the worst in
the world. Infant and child mortality are 126 and 213 per

KINSHASA 00000983 005 OF 005

thousand live births, respectively. Many preventable
infectious diseases are prevalent, notably malaria, HIV/AIDS
and tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS infection rates stand at 4
percent of all adults, or approximately 1 million people --
among the top ten totals in the world.

22. (SBU) Health is our largest development effort. The
public health care system is in near complete collapse
throughout the country. Lack of equipment, trained
personnel, adequate facilities and supplies are among the
obstacles preventing access to basic health care.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provide an estimated 80
percent of the limited care available. We plan to program
over USD 55 million for primary pediatric health care in 82
rural health zones over the next three years, and continue to
support national tuberculosis and polio eradication efforts.
USAID plans to provide USD 12 million over four years for
HIV/AIDS prevention and care; CDC funds surveillance and
pediatric HIV/AIDS programs DOD has programs for military
prevention and care; and State has an innovative public
diplomacy program to increase HIV/AIDS awareness.


23. (SBU) Currently the mood in Congo is hopeful, as the
Congolese people look to their newly-elected leadership to
put in place institutions and practices which will build on
its democratic gains, and urgently address their very real
needs. There are, however, signs the population is growing
impatient with the pace of the government's efforts. We ask
that you help us to reinforce the following messages:

-- The Congolese people rightfully expect responsible
leadership at home as well as supportive international
partners. We will continue working with the new leadership
as it develops transparent practices and establishes good
governance for the well-being of the Congolese people.

-- Voters are eager to realize tangible benefits from their
investment in democracy. They must cease being made victims
of violence.

-- Congo has taken remarkable strides to replace war with
peaceful democratic change. The successful elections were a
tangible demonstration 's desire for peaceful governance.
The United States is eager to see that momentum continue.

-- The Congolese population deserves to live in peace with
itself and its neighbors. We urge the government to
facilitate the completion of the military integration process
and the return of all foreign armed groups to their countries
of origin. We encourage political and military authorities
to pursue a peaceful resolution of the security problems of
eastern Congo.

-- Intensifying diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis all neighboring
countries is key to consolidating peace in the region. We
encourage increased contacts with Ugandan and Rwandan
officials to resolve issues of mutual concern. We applaud
the recent agreement with Angola to delineate the border with
support from the former colonial powers.

-- The United States will continue to support and work
closely with MONUC to bring about political reconciliation
and to prevent further conflict in the DRC and the region.

24. (SBU) Demonstrating your appreciation of the difficult
problems the country faces and encouraging the government to
work together with its partners to solve the DRC's many
challenges will emphasize the USG's engagement with the
Congolese people. These messages will also reassure them
that we look forward to a long partnership to help address
longstanding structural issues while promoting tolerance and
shared commitment.

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