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Cablegate: Goma Report for September 24: More Fardc

VZCZCXRO1667
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0800 2691522
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251522Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8491
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA CLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000800

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KPKO PHUM PREF CG
SUBJECT: Goma Report for September 24: More FARDC
Attacks to north, east; Goma remains calm

REF: Kinshasa 799

1. (SBU) Summary: FARDC attacked CNDP on a new front September 24,
adding to its ceasefire violations over the past week. North Kivu
brigade commander feels duped by FARDC. The city of Goma remained
quiet throughout the day.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Despite another reaffirmation by the government of its
adherence to the ceasefire and disengagement plan, this time at the
Amani steering committee meeting in Bukavu (reftel), the FARDC
continued September 24 to violate the ceasefire. CNDP appears to
have pushed back FARDC at Kashuga, in the northwest extremity of
CNDP terrain. But FARDC has attacked CNDP along several other
points in the northern area, capturing Buranda, between Bambu and
Tongo (one area where there had been no significant fighting over
the past month). FARDC also unleashed a prolonged artillery barrage
against CNDP at two points in the eastern (Rutshuru) corridor, in
the Rugari area and to the east of Rumangabo. According to certain
reports, CNDP retook Kanombe (east of Rumangabo), but North Kivu
brigade has not yet attributed a ceasefire violation to CNDP there.

3. (SBU) North Kivu commander Brigadier General Rawat told poloff
midday September 24 that he had been watching a build up of FARDC
forces in the Katsiru (northern) area for some days. He said that,
in the early morning September 24, FARDC attacked at several points
east of Katsiru and captured Buranda. A local FARDC commander there
said he would fire on North Kivu brigade if it attempted to
intervene. Exchange of fire persisted there through the day, as
well as in the Rugari and Kanombe areas. Rawat said that these
events dimmed the prospects that FARDC would abide by its commitment
to the disengagement plan, specifically, its undertaking to withdraw
from Ntamugenga, Mutabo, and Kisherero tomorrow, September 25 (D-Day
plus seven).

4. (SBU) Repeated FARDC ceasefire violations had, Rawat said,
discredited MONUC as a "neutral party in partnership with the
government," such that North Kivu brigade was beginning to find it
difficult to maintain any contact with CNDP commanders on the
ground. FARDC, he said, had requested MONUC's assistance, for
example in using its attack helicopters, but Rawat said for the time
being it was "best to leave things alone and let each side jostle
each other without our intervention." Rawat judged that Kivus
commander General Lukama, with whom he has had daily contact, was
being by-passed by colonels under his command (either acting on
their own or by command from Kinshasa, or both).

5. (U) The city of Goma, scene of civil disturbances in recent
days, returned to calm September 23, with no further strife reported
September 24.

6. (SBU) Comment: It is conceivable that FARDC's brief occupation
of Kashuga was a feint to draw CNDP's attention away from its real
aim of pressing an attack east of Katsiru. CNDP will presumably
counterattack at Buranda. The FARDC's objective in taking Buranda
-- the one theater that had seen no major recent military activity
-- is unclear, nor is it evident whether this attack, or any recent
attacks, were a concerted strategy (apparently by-passing Lukama)
versus opportunistic actions taken by local commanders. But they
have hugely undermined the government's embrace of the disengagement
plan. End comment.

BROCK

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