Cablegate: Goma Situation Report for December 19, 2007

DE RUEHKI #1391/01 3540814
O 200814Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Situation Report for December 19, 2007


Note: The following report was provided by Embassy Kinshasa's
political officer in Goma. End note.

1. (SBU) Summary: The military situation in North Kivu remained
calm for a second day December 19; reports of fighting in Masisi and
Sake appear to be incorrect. MONUC Generals Singh and Narayan
advised FARDC General Kayembe that FARDC could not mount a second
offensive for six months. FARDC morale is low, MONUC believes, and
its leadership is taking extensive steps to reinforce its positions
in the province. Pro-Nkunda forces are making no moves against
FARDC. FARDC General Amisi is emerging as the scapegoat for the
failure of the Masisi offensive. Pareco and Nkunda forces denied
looting a MONUC helicopter which crash-landed in Masisi territory.
Senior MONUC officials persuaded the Rutshuru territorial
administrator to release four WFP drivers he had illegally detained
for two days. There was an unconfirmed report of a case of ebola
fever near the Ugandan border. Goma riot police fired shots in the
air this morning to disperse a crowd of demonstrators protesting the
killing of a prisoner in police custody the day before. End

2. (SBU) The military situation in North Kivu was stable as of the
morning of December 19, with no overnight reports of renewed
fighting. Katale and Rugari, scenes of combat earlier in the week,
are silent, according to MONUC North Kivu Brigade Commander General
Indrajeet Narayan. "Nkunda is doing nothing," he said. Nyanzale
remains under FARDC control and Mushaki is with Nkunda forces.
MONUC-Goma political chief Gernot Sauer said reports of fighting in
Masisi town and Sake were false. Firing heard in Masisi was in fact
due to drunken soldiers. The major event of the previous day in
Sake was the visit of American actor Ben Affleck, who, reported
MONUC spokesperson Sylvie van den Wildenberg, trekked up Celtel
ridge as far as a landmark building known locally as the White


3. (SBU) Narayan said he and Eastern Division Commander General
Bikram Singh had counseled caution in their December 18 meeting with
FARDC Chief of Staff General Dieudonne Kayembe and senior
commanders. He said they had advised FARDC to use the next six
months to take stock of the situation, replace commanders, train
troops, and take military action only if political dialogue fails.
Returning to a consistent theme, Narayan said, "If they don't
realize the importance of the political process, it will be folly."
As to the state of FARDC morale, he stated: "Panic has really set
in everywhere."

4. (SBU) Current FARDC moves center on reinforcement. "They are
keeping their options open," said Narayan. Kayembe and his generals
remain in Goma, and held a lunchtime meeting with Mayala at the
dining room of Hotel Linda. FARDC has requested MONUC assistance to
reinforce Katale and to ferry the re-formed 81st Brigade back to
Masisi. Helicopter availability and fuel will affect MONUC's
ability to fulfill these requests as it is currently experiencing a
fuel crisis due to shortages in Kenya, its main source of supply.

5. (SBU) FARDC has also ordered the 1st and 13th Integrated
Brigades (IB) south from Ituri District. When the move is complete,
Narayan said, "Ituri will have virtually no troops." Half of the
15th IB remains in the Nyanzale area, with the rest having fled
north, while looting, toward Kibirizi and Riwinda. The brigade "has
completely disintegrated," said Sauer, and Kayembe has ordered the
7th IB to replace it after turning down a proposal by 9th IB
commander Colonel Smith Kihanga. Kihanga, like other former
commanders of the Rwandan-backed Congolese National Army (ANC) which
joined the FARDC, has been the object of rumors questioning his
loyalty because of previous association with Nkunda.

6. (SBU) FARDC Land Forces Commander General Gabriel Amisi appears
to be emerging as the scapegoat for the failure of the Masisi
offensive. Amisi, another former ANC colleague of Nkunda, is the
subject of a rumor alleging he arrived in Mushaki during the Nkunda
counter-offensive to bribe troops of the 14th IB to retreat. More
likely, said Narayan, he was there trying to rally them. Narayan
said 14th IB troops had been more interested in stealing cattle
while in Mushaki.

7. (SBU) Narayan identified two reasons for Nkunda's continued
battlefield successes, despite enormous deficits in men and
materiel. First, Nkunda has convinced his men that they are
fighting for a cause, and is able to play off FARDC abuses and
atrocities to continually make his point. Second, in contrast to
FARDC, his forces have good officers and leadership. Without MONUC,

KINSHASA 00001391 002 OF 002

Narayan said, Nkunda's forces could have routed FARDC and moved into
Goma. He estimated that 15 per cent of pro-Nkunda fighters are

Developments in Masisi

8. (SBU) In Masisi territory, a MONUC helicopter which crash-landed
at Matanda, 10 kms. west of Mushaki, was "completely looted" after
Nkunda and Pareco fighters appeared on the scene soon after the
crash, Sauer said. There were no casualties from the crash, but one
crew member died of a heart attack soon after all 11 passengers and
crew fled an exchange of fire between the belligerents. Sauer said
the helicopter was on a regularly-scheduled flight to Walikale when
it developed mechanical problems. MONUC troops remain at the site
after rescuing the accident victims, who are being treated at the
North Kivu Brigade hospital in Goma. When contacted by MONUC,
representatives of Nkunda and Pareco blamed each other for the

9. (SBU) Sauer said the MONUC troops diverted to the crash site had
been investigating reports of the killing of 27 Hutu villagers in
Musangati, a remote site five hours by foot from Mushaki. They
found that Nkunda troops had killed one person, a teacher, and
abducted 17 others -- men, women and children -- for reasons that
remain unknown.

Developments in Rutshuru

10. (SBU) In Rutshuru territory, Singh, Narayan, MONUC Head of
Office Ulli Mwambulukutu and civil affairs chief Joseph Ingangi
persuaded Territorial Administrator Dominique Bofondo at a December
17 meeting in Rutshuru town to release four WFP drivers he had
ordered arrested and detained over two days. WFP and the NGO
Solidarite suspended their activities in protest. WFP provincial
chief Aya Scheerson called this only the latest in a long series of
outrages by Bofondo, accusing him of regularly inciting IDP's
against MONUC and NGO's. A visiting UNICEF official from Kinshasa
said December 17 he had protested to Governor Julien Paluku about
Bofondo's contact; Narayan said UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres had
promised to raise the issue with Paluku as well. Ingangi said he
planned a follow-up visit with Schneerson to see Bofondo later in
the week pending availability of MONUC escort.

11. (SBU) Elsewhere in Rutshuru, Sauer noted a report of a case of
ebola hemorrhagic fever in Ishusa, northeast of Rutshuru town near
an area of Uganda which has had cases in the past. He emphasized
that the report remained unconfirmed. He also provided additional
information on the PNC officer killed by FARDC during the December
16 Rugari firefight. He said FARDC alleged the officer and a
colleague had fired small arms from behind positions of the 2nd IB,
which shot the first dead and arrested the second. Sauer said MONUC
was attempting to get the second officer released. He reported five
fighters -- four Mai-Mai, one Nkunda -- had surrendered at MONUC's
base outside Rutshuru.

Developments in the Grand Nord

12. (BU) According to MONUC DDRRR's section, members of the FDLR
Musari faction attempted to prevent the surrender of 40 FDLR
fighters who had turned themselves in at Lubero. Sauer said MONUC
was able to extract the 40, and will repatriate them to Rwanda. He
also noted an unconfirmed report that one of Nkunda's senior
commanders, General Bwambale Kakolele, a Nande originally from
Ituri, had been seen in Lubero meeting with the city's mayor.

Situation in Goma

13. (SBU) Sauer clarified that shots heard in Goma on the morning
of December 19 were fired into the air by riot police attempting
disperse a crowd protesting the death of a prisoner at the Birere
police station the day before. The protest tied up traffic for most
of the early morning. Sauer had no information on possible
casualties, but said MONUC had met this morning with the PNC
provincial inspector general, who claimed he had not ordered the use
of firearms.


© Scoop Media

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