Cablegate: Goma Report September 19: Masisi Fighting

DE RUEHKI #0778/01 2660633
O 220633Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report September 19: Masisi Fighting

1. (SBU) Summary: MONUC helicopters fired on CNDP four miles south
of Masisi, forestalling a possible CNDP move on Masisi or Katale.
Minister of Defense warned the facilitation team that it had only
two more days to get Nkunda's agreement to the disengagement plan
and then use of force ("contraindre") would be necessary. End

2. (SBU) CNDP official Muiti called poloff mid-morning September 19
to say that FARDC, PARECO, and FDLR were continuing to attack CNDP
from the west (from the direction of Masisi and 81st brigade
headquarters at Katale). He described President Kabila's statements
to the press the previous day as a "declaration of war." He
repeated CNDP's insistence on direct talks with the government in
Addis Ababa or Nairobi and CNDP's refusal to meet either at Kimoka
or Goma air terminal, whatever security assurances MONUC might give.
CNDP did not, he said, trust MONUC.

3. (SBU) North Kivu brigade commander Brigadier General Rawat told
facilitation members late afternoon September 19 that fighting over
the past 36 hours had shifted to the Masisi area. North Kivu
brigade had detected several columns of CNDP, from 20 to 60 men,
moving out of CNDP territory both north and south of Masisi and
Katale. There have been skirmishes between CNDP and PARECO. On
September 18, North Kivu brigade had already detected a camp of CNDP
troops four miles south of Masisi, well west of CNDP territory, and
had warned them to leave the area. Two MONUC attack helicopters
were dispatched in the morning September 19 and fired warning shots
at the camp. The helicopters then returned to the camp, ascertained
that the CNDP troops had not departed, and fired ten rockets, with
six of the rockets hitting the CNDP camp. The CNDP troops
immediately withdrew. (Note: FARDC also sent in two attack
helicopters, which also fired shots, but ineffectively at too far
distance. Reports that a FARDC helicopter was shot down are
inaccurate. End note.) Rawat regretted having to use the attack
helicopters, but his assessment was that CNDP was attempting a move
against Masisi and Katale. He said that the South African
contingent present in Masisi town was under pressure from the 15,000
IDPs who gathered around the contingent and had begun to throw
rocks, out of fear of a CNDP attack and because the contingent had
run out of food to hand out.

4. (SBU) Midday September 19, Minister of Defense Chikez (who has
been in North Kivu for two weeks) called a meeting of MONUC and the
facilitation team. Amani National Coordinator Malu Malu, Joint
Technical Chairman Etumba, "Operations Commander" General Lukama,
and North Kivu Governor Paluku were present. There was much
discussion of the disengagement plan which, Chikez said, the
government embraced with its "whole heart." But his main purpose
was to convey to the facilitation team that it was the latter's
responsibility to get Nkunda on board with the plan, that it had
only two more days to accomplish that essential goal (according to
the plan's calendar), and that if that were not accomplished, then
MONUC would have to move quickly from a persuasive ("convaincre")
posture to a compelling ("contraindre") posture against CNDP.
(Note: "Contraindre" means use of force or a believable threat of
use of force.) Malu Malu said that, in a telephone conversation he
had just had with SRSG Doss, Doss had assured him that MONUC would
"do everything necessary" to use force against CNDP in Masisi.
Chikez and Etumba asserted that CNDP had launched an offensive in
Masisi, and Malu Malu said that CNDP had made multiple attacks on

5. (SBU) Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel Cunliffe, after giving a
review of the disengagement plan, related that there had been
persistent exchanges of fire in the environs of Masisi and Katale.
The North Kivu brigade, he said, had sent out patrols who, in one
area (Kahengole), had observed FDLR and PARECO operating together in
the early hours of the morning, with FARDC not far away. This
statement (implication of FARDC complicity with FDLR) incurred a
barrage of outrage from Chikez, Etumba, and the governor of North
Kivu, who condemned Cunliffe personally and threatened to have him
thrown out of the country. (Note: Twenty minutes was consumed by
this kind of vituperation; fortunately, Col. Cunliffe has little
French and no one on the facilitation side cared to translate the
increasingly abusive language that the Minister and Etumba heaped on
him. End note.) Etumba also objected to what he described as an
incident of North Kivu brigade's firing on FARDC.

6. (SBU) Minister Chikez reiterated that on Day D plus 3 there
would be an "evaluation" of the international facilitation, and that
if CNDP had not agreed to comply with the disengagement plan, the
Minister implied, there would be dire (but unspecified)
consequences. (Note: Earlier in the day, a member of the Amani
hierarchy who has regular contact with CNDP said that senior
Kinshasa officials presently in Goma, including Minister Chikez,
have been in contact with civil-society leaders about organizing

KINSHASA 00000778 002 OF 002

anti-MONUC and possibly anti-Facilitation demonstrations. An
expatriate who has close ties to CNDP, in a subsequent conversation,
told us that the CNDP operations to which MONUC responded were not
in fact directed against FARDC but were responses to PARECO/FDLR
moves toward CNDP territory. The expatriate said that unless MONUC
is even-handed with respect not only to FARDC vs. CNDP, but also
PARECO and its FDLR allies, there was little chance that CNDP would
respond to efforts to get it back into a cease-fire process. End

7. (SBU) Minister Chikez further announced that he was prepared, at
SRSG Doss's request, to issue a statement reaffirming the
government's commitment to the January cease-fire and its urgent
demand that all armed groups adhere to it. The drafting of this
statement (presumably now issued to the press) was done on the basis
of Etumba's hand-written notes, transcribed by a French MONUC
officer sitting at a computer and trying to keep up with drafting
suggestions coming from all sides.

8. (SBU) Eastern Coordinator Alpha Sow afterward told poloff that
the government (through Tutsi businessmen Emmanuel Kamanzi and
Bizima Karaha) and MONUC had thus far failed to reach Nkunda or
persuade CNDP to agree to a meeting to discuss the disengagement
plan. MONUC Force Commander General Gaye is due back in Goma
September 20, and one of his objectives is to try to meet Nkunda to
present the MONUC disengagement plan. As of September 19 at 19:00,
no contact with the CNDP leadership has been established, and there
is no realistic prospect that there will be anyone available on the
CNDP side for General Gaye (whom CNDP has been attacking in its
website, referring to a French arrest warrant against him).


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