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Cablegate: Goma Update: Opening for Political Talks?

VZCZCXRO3007
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0922/01 2980614
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240614Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8658
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000922

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS CG
SUBJECT: GOMA UPDATE: OPENING FOR POLITICAL TALKS?

REF: KINSHASA 885

1. (SBU) Summary: Alpha Sow of MONUC reported to the International
Facilitation (IF) October 23 that FARDC's Admiral Etumba had told
him that the GDRC would like to start serious operations against the
FDLR. Etumba also reportedly said the GDRC was open to political
talks with the CNDP. Colonel Cunliffe of MONUC outlined his
frustration with the FARDC. The IF will follow up with Etumba on
the evening of October 23 and, depending on the outcome of the
discussion, the IF will then approach the CNDP to ascertain the
group's willingness to engage at a political level with the GDRC.
It is too early to make too much of Etumba's announcements. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) At the October 23 meeting of the International
Facilitation (IF) in Goma, MONUC political advisor Alpha Sow
reported that FARDC's Admiral Didier Etumba had delivered to him the
following points/questions:

-- The GDRC remains committed to peace.

-- How much longer must we (FARDC) wait before taking tough actions
against the CNDP, moving to the 'compel phase' as per the separation
plan?

-- The GDRC would like to restart serious operations against the
FDLR, which would include arresting FDLR figures in Goma, opening
the Rutshuru-Ishasha road, and increasing operations in Walikale.

-- The GDRC is open to political talks with the CNDP, even before
military talks. The government, however, insists that this be done
quietly and that these talks should not appear to be outside of the
Amani process.

3. (SBU) Sow interpreted Etumba's point on operations against the
FDLR as a criticism of MONUC, questioning why it had not moved
faster on Operation Kimia. It appeared that Etumba was blaming
MONUC for not moving against the FDLR. Nevertheless, Sow later
confirmed that Etumba had agreed that the FARDC would be willing to
recommence serious actions against the FDLR.

4. (SBU) MONUC's Colonel Cunliffe expressed frustration with what
Etumba had said, outlining the following areas in which the FARDC
was being unhelpful:

-- The Comprehensive Disengagement Plan, accepted by the GDRC,
required cantonment of the FARDC. This has not happened. Instead
the FARDC attacked the CNDP. Thus after 30 days, the plan is only
40% complete.

-- The national police (PNC) were supposed to deploy into the Zones
of Separation. None have been deployed nor is there a support
structure in place for this deployment.

-- Ten FARDC battalions, approximately 8,000 men who were being
prepared for Operation Kimia, have instead been targeted against
CNDP.

-- The only joint operation against FDLR (reftel), at Mpofi, foresaw
the use of one FARDC company (100 men); however, only 13 FARDC
soldiers showed up. The three possible anti-FDLR operations
suggested by Etumba were actually operations that Cunliffe himself
had recommended to General Kayembe.

-- When MONUC deploys to a flashpoint, its soldiers are attacked by
the public, despite the FARDC presence, as at Kalengera on October
22. Also, FARDC places its vehicles next to MONUC facilities during
combat, recently resulting in 5 Uruguayan vehicles being destroyed
at Ntamagenga.

5. (SBU) The IF will meet with Etumba the evening of October 23 to
press the following points: the GDRC/FARDC must respect the
ceasefire, execute the disengagement plan, garrison its soldiers,
deploy the PNC, and return the Kimia battalions to operations
against the FDLR. The idea is to elicit Etumba's agreement to move
forward and demonstrate the GDRC's good faith and willingness to
talk seriously with the CNDP. The IF will also promise Etumba that
MONUC would police the zones of separation to prevent any violations
by the CNDP.

6. (SBU) After speaking with Etumba, the IF will approach the CNDP
to gauge their willingness to talk. Issues that remain outstanding
include: who from the GDRC the CNDP would consider as an
interlocutor; where a meeting could be held; and what precisely
would be discussed.


KINSHASA 00000922 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) Comment: Some observers believe Etumba's statements may
signal that senior Congolese leaders have decided to adopt a more
long-term view of ending the conflict in the east by favoring a
political settlement, hoping to secure a peace dividend in the Kivus
prior to the next presidential election. Under this scenario a
serious military campaign against the FDLR would provide leverage
vis-a-vis the CNDP, whose pretext for continuing the struggle would
be undermined. We believe it is too early to know what, if
anything, will result from today's surprising developments. End
comment.

BROCK

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