Cablegate: Goma Situation Report for December 28-29, 2007

DE RUEHKI #1427/01 3651023
R 311023Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma situation report for December 28-29, 2007

REF: (A) Kinshasa 1423

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

1. (U) The subject line in ref (A), the most recent report in this
series, is incorrect. Subject line should read: "Goma situation
report for December 27 (not December 22), 2007." This is the last
report for 2007; reports will resume January 2, 2008.

Conference Update

2. (SBU) Father Apollinaire Muholongu Malumalu, one of the four
speakers at yesterday's convocation ceremony, had breakfast with the
EU representative and embassy's officer in Goma January 28. At the
breakfast Malumalu stated that Nkunda will not be present at the
Conference but will send eight representatives. Malumalu also
requested Tim Shortley's presence as an outside participant to
augment that of the other two special envoys who will reportedly
attend, Joseph Smets (Belgium) and Roland Van der Geer (European
Union). Malumalu would also like to see groups such as the
International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Carter Center participate
as conferees as well. Malumalu requested that the U.S. contact FDLR
and NALU contacts in the Grand North to inform they are not invited
to the Conference although they are welcome to pass messages to the
Conference through interlocutors. Embassy officer in Goma conveyed
this message to Embassy Kinshasa.

3. (SBU) Latest reports indicate that 'civil-society' is posing a
problem for conference organizers. NGO's continue to press for more
delegates than they are allotted. Besides having a greater voice in
the conference, each delegate will reportedly receive a $200 daily
stipend for lodging and food, undoubtedly a factor in the high
demand for Conference participation.

Prepcom is in full swing

4. (SBU) December 27 opening ceremony included speeches from the
interim governor of South Kivu (FNU LNU) which was reportedly
ill-prepared and poorly received. Things picked up with the speech
by Governor Paluku of North Kivu, followed by the Fr. Malumalu and
the President of the National Assembly, Vital Kamerhe. Also seen
(and greeted by Embassy officer in Goma) was General Mayala,
commander of the 8th Military Region, as well as the DRC Ambassador
to the United States, Faida Mitifu. Ambassador Mitifu apologized
for not visiting the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa, as she not have time
to do so due to the quick pace of recent events. She plans to visit
the embassy when she passes back through Kinshasa.

Security Situation

5. (SBU) The situation on the ground between the FARDC and Nkunda
has been fairly quiet in the past three days with minor skirmishes
initiated by the FARDC in Rutshuru territory last reported two days
ago. MONUC now officially considers the roads from Goma to Sake as
safe to traverse. Nkunda already controls the roads to Rutshuru and
Kirolirwe. According to some reports, this explains why Goma
residents have seen a 50 percent rise in the cost of nearly all
staple products, such as beans, bananas, etc.). Were Nkunda able to
cut the road at Masisi, he would control all three points of access
to Goma, leaving the city in a stranglehold. FARDC and MONUC
apparently realize this and are moving to reinforce Masisi to
counter the threat. The FARDC is sending an estimated 600 troops to
reinforce Masisi. MONUC is providing air transport for at least 240
of them. Those awaiting transport can be seen on the southeast side
of the Goma airfield.

6. (SBU) A MONUC transport helicopter crash landed recently west of
Sake in disputed territory. All crew and passengers safely returned
home, though the aircraft was reportedly looted. One eyewitness
reports observing the damaged aircraft carried back to Goma by a
larger transport helicopter yesterday. One MONUC source states that
Nkunda's forces were the first on the scene and made every effort to
speed the injured to safety. Shortly afterward, FDLR and PARECO
soldiers arrived at the scene and the source believes that these
forces would have harmed, rather than helped the crew and

Civilian life in Goma

KINSHASA 00001427 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) Within the city of Goma, life goes on. As mentioned
earlier, prices have increased markedly due to the informal "taxes"
and roadblocks along the three major routes into and out of Goma.
There continue to be reports of theft, rape, and murder, but
residents have come to live with this. Some believe that such
crimes have become so commonplace that they are attributable to
simple "jealousy." As one story goes, if a miscreant feels his
rival has something he would like (money, a woman, or a valuable
such as a television), he will attempt to kill or rob the rival.
The weapon of choice is the AK-47 assault rifle. Streets are
crowded with people all day and into the early evening (8:00 - 9:00
pm). Select shops remain open later into the night.

More on the Conference

8. At least one major hotelier claims he was not informed of
conference details, to include the new dates and estimated number of
attendees. Even with the possibility of an influx of 2000 plus
people in Goma, this hotel manager believes that there will be
enough hotel rooms to accommodate the conferees. He believes that
many will find rooms in town at friend's and acquaintance's homes,
or rent one of the many newly constructed homes. Furthermore, he is
concerned that many of the conferees will stay one or two nights and
then check out after they find other, less expensive accommodations,
so that they can save as much of their per diem as possible.


© Scoop Media

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