Cablegate: Goma Report September 23:

DE RUEHKI #0797/01 2690616
O 250616Z SEP 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Goma Report September 23:
Goma quite, FARDC Makes Promises

1. (SBU) Summary: Despite FARDC's misbehavior at Sake September 20
and 22, MinDef promised September 23 that FARDC would withdraw, as
scheduled in the disengagement plan, from forward positions in the
Rutshuru corridor beginning September 25. However, the populace is
still blocking MONUC in the area. Meanwhile, FARDC has occupied
Kashuga, at the far northwest extremity of CNDP territory. Life
appeared to return to normal in Goma, with FARDC's artillery quiet
at Sake. End Summary.

2. (SBU) September 23 was an unexpectedly quiet day, both in Goma
and on the military front. The only significant military
development to come to light was FARDC's apparent occupation of
Kashuga, at the far northwestern part of the territory which was
occupied by CNDP prior to August 28. Kivus commander General Lukama
two days earlier had told the North Kivu brigade commander Brigadier
General Rawat that he "might do something" in the Mweso area as a
way to relieve CNDP pressure on Masisi and Sake, and MONUC had
detected a FARDC build-up at Katsiru, from which FARDC might be
expected to launch an attack against Mweso.

3. (SBU) Already on September 22 CNDP complained that FARDC had
occupied Kashuga, but North Kivu brigade did not send a patrol into
the area until late on September 23 and still had no absolute
confirmation. (Note: CNDP vacated Kashuga during its advance north
beginning September 5, apparently because it could not spare its
forces to continue to hold Kashuga. Other armed groups -- variously
thought to be PARECO, Mai Mai Mongol, or FDLR -- had immediately
filled the vacuum. After the September 11 unilateral withdrawal by
CNDP, North Kivu brigade believed that these armed groups had
departed Kashuga, leaving it looted and largely devoid of
inhabitants. End note.) As the road from Katsiru to Kashuga passes
through CNDP-controlled territory at Mweso, the FARDC would have had
to get to Kashuga by foot. A FARDC presence there may be small, but
would nonetheless constitute another ceasefire violation by FARDC.

4. (SBU) In a press statement issued at 1630, CNDP spoke of clashes
in Kashuga, with attacks by the "FARDC/FDLR/ PARECO coalition". The
statement goes on to say that either the government has no intention
of honoring its cease-fire declaration, or its own forces are acting
in defiance of orders.

5. (SBU) Mid-morning September 23 MONUC, led by Rawat, had what it
considered a "good meeting" with Minister of Defense Chikez, Lukama,
General Etumba, Abbe Malu Malu, and North Kivu Governor Paluku.
According to Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Cunliffe, Chikez
re-reaffirmed the government's "total adherence" to the ceasefire
and to the disengagement plan which it had embraced on "D-Day"
September 18. He said that he had now issued orders for the army to
abide by the ceasefire and that those orders should "very soon" be
filtering their way down the chain of command. He claimed that
FARDC would stick closely to the timetable outlined in that plan,
working intimately with MONUC as partners. He said that FARDC would
have to defend itself against imminent attack, but it would put
itself in "active defensive mode."

6. (SBU) Cunliffe said that Rawat stated to Chikez and the others
that MONUC was "prepared to continue to use force against the armed
groups (i.e., CNDP) if they do not disengage." (Note: This
formulation would suggest that the North Kivu brigade intends to
tell CNDP what the disengagement lines will have to be and to force
CNDP out of positions held prior to August 28, where MONUC
determines that CNDP's present positions are too threatening.) The
most important test case will be at Rugari, the southernmost town on
the Rutshuru road within Rutshuru territory, where CNDP occupies the
strategic prominence called Himbi Height a mere kilometer (i.e.,
within easy artillery range) from the road. MONUC's present plan
(not yet presented to CNDP) calls for CNDP's withdrawal a further
three kilometers eastward of Himbi Height.

7. (SBU) According to Cunliffe, Minister of Defense Chikez
concurred that, as foreseen in the disengagement plan, the first
disengagement of forces is to occur in the eastern sector (the
Rutshuru corridor) at D-Day plus seven, i.e., Thursday September 25.
Chikez stated that FARDC would withdraw on that day from its
forward positions at Ntamugenga, Mutabo, and Kisherero, held since
August 28-29. He appeared to agree that FARDC would not await a
CNDP further withdrawal (for example, from Himbi Height). (CNDP has
already withdrawn from the one forward position it occupied on
August 28, at Kanombe.)

8. (SBU) At the meeting, according to Col. Cunliffe, Rawat raised
the issue of sensitization of the populace to stop blocking the
North Kivu brigade and allow it to move forward into the eastern

KINSHASA 00000797 002 OF 002

zone of separation. (North Kivu brigade has been blocked for
several weeks from moving forward to Ntamugenga, has continued to be
stoned intermittently by the populace all over Rutshuru area, and on
September 23 was blocked by the populace from moving beyond Mutabo
toward the area of Rugarama and Kishebero.) Rawat called for
beginning "information operations" (sensitization of the populace)
simultaneously with FARDC's withdrawal from the zone of separation.

9. (SBU) Governor Paluku objected that the populace would "go mad"
if FARDC attempted to withdraw from (and MONUC attempted to occupy)
Ntamugenga, Mutabo, and Kisherero. We have now learned that MONUC
plans to dispatch a francophone team to Rutshuru tomorrow September
24, a day before the scheduled establishment of the eastern zone of
separation, to try to persuade the fiery territorial administrator,
local Hutu chief, plus Col. Delphin and Col. Mushimba to ensure
popular acceptance of the plan. (Note: What is not clear is
whether the populace would be amenable to "sensitization" even if
these individuals, so active for many weeks in stirring up the
populace, were assumed to want to comply.)

10. (SBU) September 22's sustained but indiscriminate artillery
barrage by FARDC against CNDP positions on the escarpment west of
Sake ceased with nightfall and did not recommence September 23.
(Note: We have ascertained that the multi-barreled rocket
launchers, mortars, tanks, and BMPs that participated in this
barrage were clustered close to the North Kivu brigade's base at
Kimoka, with the evident intent of incurring a CNDP riposte which
would inevitably have harmed the base; however, CNDP did not rise to
the bait.)

11. (SBU) With the absence of military activity at Sake, the
anxiety level in Goma subsided markedly September 23. The women who
led the protest went back to their subsistence lives as mothers and
market ladies. The only evidence of the previous day's
rock-throwing roaming mobs was two entirely gutted, Tutsi-owned gas
stations on the western road and a greater than usual number of
boulders and rocks along the side of the road, which the previous
day had covered the road for two kilometers. Otherwise, life seemed
to have returned to what passes for normal in Goma.


© Scoop Media

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