Cablegate: Goma Situation Report for December 22, 2007

DE RUEHKI #1405/01 3600816
R 260816Z DEC 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma situation report for December 22, 2007

REF: Kinshasa 1391


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

1. (SBU) Summary: The North Kivu military situation remained stable
during the previous week. However, FARDC continues to move
reinforcements into and around the province. Pro-Nkunda and Pareco
militia forces clashed again in a remote area of Masisi territory.
Inhabitants of Rutshuru town protested against perceived MONUC
brakes on FARDC military action and against continued IDP occupation
of its principal school. FARDC has taken no action against
commanders in the aftermath of the failed Masisi offensive, perhaps
in fear of defection. Despite unprecedented military buildup during
the last months, it has been unable to provide weapons to soldiers
of the new 16th Integrated Brigade. FARDC chief of staff Kayembe
has submitted his report on the offensive, but Kabila told North
Kivu officials he was strongly opposed to punishing any of those
involved. Belgian military sources (pls protect) allege FARDC
soldiers were intentionally mutilated by pro-Nkunda troops after
being taken prisoner during the fighting. Neither the press nor the
GDRC has mentioned these allegations, which we are investigating.
End summary.

Military situation stable

2. (SBU) The military situation in North Kivu remained stable
through the end of last week. "No major clashes, nothing to worry
about," MONUC North Kivu Brigade Commander General Indrajeet Narayan
told us December 22 during his briefing on recent developments.
FARDC continues to shift reinforcements into and around the
province. Narayan said that the 8th Integrated Brigade (IB) was
reported moving north from South Kivu, along with equipment and
supplies. Both the 9th IB and two battalions of the 7th IB were on
the move to Nyanzale, formerly held by the discredited 15th IB, from
positions further south in Rutshuru territory.

3. (SBU) In Masisi territory, pro-Nkunda forces and fighters of the
Hutu Pareco Mai-Mai militia again clashed, this time at Kuobo, north
of the site of the MONUC helicopter crash earlier in the week
(reftel). Narayan also cited reports of Nkunda troops on the move
toward Kibati on the road to Kitchange. He said MONUC had
transported 81st Brigade commander Colonel Philemon Yav and 15
others back to Masisi via helicopter.

4. (SBU) In Rutshuru territory, Nararayan said MONUC had also
provided transport for visits to Nyanzale and Rutshuru towns by a
group of senior FARDC officers, including 8th Military Region
Commander General Vainqueur Mayala and FARDC operations chief
General Amuli Bahigwa. (Note: Amuli, a former MLC commander,
served as naval forces chief of staff during the transition. End
note.) He noted some infiltration of Nkunda loyalists at Lalingara
on the road to Tongo off the Goma-Rutshuru road.

5. (SBU) Narayn reported two protests in Rutshuru town. In the
first, about a thousand civilians demonstrated against MONUC for
supposedly preventing FARDC action in the eastern border enclave
controlled by pro-Nkunda forces under Colonel Sultani Makenga. In
fact, said Narayan, the North Kivu Brigade had attempted to
safeguard 6th IB commander Colonel Antonio by convincing him to
return to Rutshuru after he personally led -- without orders -- a
small patrol of 30 soldiers into the enclave and ended up in a
firefight at Tanuganya near Bunagana. In the second incident,
students temporarily blocked the main road outside the offices of
Territorial Administrator Dominique Bofondo as protested against the
takeover by IDPs of the town's principal school as living quarters.

State of the FARDC

6. (SBU) Narayan again expressed concern about the state of the
FARDC, which he characterized as "increasingly weak." Narayan said
no commanders had been sacked. Yav and deputy regional military
commander Colonel Delphin Kahimbi, both under suspicion for their
actions in the Masisi offensive, were active once again. He said
FARDC leadership is afraid sacked officers could defect to Nkunda.
He cited conflicting reports that 14th IB commander David Ruguyi was
either under arrest or had defected with 700 troops.

7. (SBU) Narayan said MONUC was providing training to two battalions
of the new 16th IB. However, FARDC had sent all 1,500 men from
brassage centers without giving them weapons; 750 fighters from the
Jackson Mai-Mai militia also had no uniforms. He said MONUC

KINSHASA 00001405 002 OF 002

trainers had only 30 borrowed weapons to train all 1500.

8. (SBU) Clovis Muni, an adviser to Governor Julien Paluku who is in
regular contact with the Nkunda camp, told us later in the day that
100 14th IB troops had in fact defected. However, he said President
Kabila told him and other North Kivu officials during meetings last
week in Kinshasa that he was adamantly opposed to the group's calls
to punish Defense Minister Chikez Diemu or senior military officers
for the failure of the Masisi offensive. Muni said Kabila told them
he would always regret having ordered the execution for treason of a
group of officers during the civil war who turned out to be
blameless, and would not repeat that mistake now.

9. (SBU) A North Kivu official of the national intelligence service
ANR ("Agence Nationale de Renseignements") told us December 22 that
FARDC chief of staff General Dieudonne Kayembe had forwarded his
report on the offensive to Kabila, and singled out, among others,
land forces chief General Gabriel Amisi, Yav and Kahimbi. He said
that officers cited in the report would be called to Kinshasa to
provide their own declarations in response to the accusations.

10. (SBU) Belgian Consul General Hugues Chantry (pls protect),
visiting Goma from his post in Bukavu, cited first-hand reports by
Belgian military officers that a number of FARDC soldiers had been
seriously wounded and were being treated out of public view at a
military camp in Kinshasa. The officers claimed that some had been
intentionally mutilated by pro-Nkunda troops after being taken
prisoner, to spread terror in FARDC ranks -- a war crime. Chantry
said Kabila and Chikez are aware of the situation and extremely
concerned about public reaction if information were to leak. The
press has apparently not picked up on these reports. We will
continue to monitor.


© Scoop Media

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