Cablegate: Goma Report September 12:

DE RUEHKI #0757/01 2571337
P 131337Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report September 12:
Aftermath of CNDP Withdrawal Declaration


1. (SBU) Summary: On September 12 the MONUC military facilitated
CNDP withdrawal from recently-occupied areas, giving CNDP an
ultimatum of 12:00 September 13 to make a complete withdrawal. EU
Special Envoy van de Geer will meet CNDP at Kimoka September 13.
FARDC's willingness to make a reciprocal gesture (withdrawal from
points occupied August 28-29 and PARECO's incursions) remains an
open question. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The declaration by CNDP (reftel) on the evening of
September 11 of a unilateral withdrawal from recently occupied areas
ushered a much quieter day in North Kivu militarily than had been
the case for the previous two weeks. The only exchange of fire
noted by North Kivu brigade occurred in the hills above Kirotshe
(south of Sake), which unfortunately coincided with the visit of
Minister of Defense Chikez and the governor of North Kivu, who
sought to make a road tour (to demonstrate government control over
an area that had been briefly in CNDP hands). The governor stated
publicly that the firing was an assassination attempt by CNDP and
showed CNDP's bad faith, although the exchange of fire apparently
occurred several kilometers from where the minister and governor
were located.

3. (SBU) Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Cunliffe and his staff on
September 12 gave a briefing to EU Special Envoy Roeland van de Geer
(just arrived in Goma for a five-day visit) and the facilitation
team. He said that the day opened with an order from Force
Commander General Gaye to the North Kivu brigade to generate space
and security for the withdrawal of CNDP forces. CNDP was to be
given until 12:00 September 13 to make a complete withdrawal from
all areas occupied in the recent fighting. (The principal zone of
withdrawal is the Katsiru-Nyanzale-Kibirizi-Kayala sector to the
north, with possibly some CNDP elements remaining in the south, and
one CNDP forward position in the Rutshuru corridor.) Cunliffe said
that some of the CNDP field commanders were showing "resentment" at
the declaration of withdrawal and might cause difficulties. The
situation in Kibirizi remained particularly unclear. North Kivu
brigade had given free passage to CNDP trucks heading south with
casualties and equipment. Cunliffe noted that a "massive" internal
displacement issue remained. "Medecins Sans Frontieres," in a
September 12 press release, estimated that as many as 250,000 people
had been re-displaced or newly displaced in the recent fighting.

4. (SBU) Cunliffe said that he was in frequent meetings with the
new FARDC Kivus commander, General Lukama (formerly only in charge
of the anti-FDLR operation, now both anti-FDLR and Kivus), stressing
to him that it was essential FARDC fully reciprocate the CNDP
withdrawal. The MONUC military spokesman had earlier in the day, he
said, given an Okapi interview underlining MONUC's "expectation" and
"insistence" that FARDC reciprocate. Cunliffe said that FARDC's
occupation of Ntamugenga and Mutabo in the Rutshuru buffer zone
remained at the heart of the upsurge in fighting since late August.
However, he said, he was not sanguine that FARDC would cooperate.
Philip Winter, deputy to Eastern Coordinator Alpha Sow, said that
Sow had been meeting Chikez also with the object of assuring FARDC's
return to original positions and an embrace of the Goma agreement as
the only way forward.

5. (SBU) Cunliffe said that, if CNDP withdrew as promised, MONUC
would attempt immediately to begin military-to-military
disengagement talks. He hoped to be able to helicopter two CNDP
military officers from Kimoka to the MONUC-controlled Goma air
terminal on the afternoon of September 14. He had already broached
this idea with General Lukama. If CNDP agreed, technical military
talks on buffer zones (or, he said, more accurately "zones of
separation"), would start in earnest, using maps being prepared by
MONUC. No political officials from either CNDP or FARDC would be
permitted in the talks, which would be restricted to military issues
such as present military positions and range of weapons and not
enter upon subjects such as property rights or humanitarian
corridors. (Note: This focus is narrower than contemplated in the
ad hoc working groups on disengagement that were to have begun work
on August 28.) Cunliffe said that General Gaye was returning to
Goma September 13 to refine these plans.

6. (SBU) Cunliffe said that MONUC now had confirmation of a serious
confrontation September 11 between CNDP and FDLR, also involving the
31st battalion (recently trained by MONUC for combating FDLR) and
PARECO. It occurred five kms. to the west of Kayala (from which
North Kivu brigade had evicted CNDP). CNDP suffered "significant
casualties," as well as 8-10 killed at Kirotshe by MONUC. Cunliffe
speculated that this reverse may have been a factor in CNDP's
unilateral declaration of withdrawal. He said that the
second-in-command of the 31st battalion had been killed. FARDC's

KINSHASA 00000757 002 OF 002

23rd battalion (also trained for action against FDLR) had been put
in readiness, also to be used against CNDP.

7. (SBU) Van de Geer said that he would be meeting a CNDP team at
Kimoka the next morning, with the object of seeking a political
commitment from CNDP to return to the Joint Technical Commission and
Goma/Amani process. The government at the highest levels in
Kinshasa had urged him to meet the CNDP and see Nkunda if possible.
He said he would urge CNDP to participate in the
military-to-military talks on September 14 at the Goma air terminal.
He would see Chikez and underline the vital importance of FARDC's
reciprocity, despite the angry mood of the populace and the
government's sensitivities about sovereignty. Van de Geer regretted
that it had been necessary for the MONUC military to take action
against CNDP, as he was certain that FARDC had provoked CNDP, but
CNDP had far overreached and there had been no alternative. He
hoped that this military action would have now opened diplomatic


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