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Cablegate: Gdrc Efforts to Organize the Armed Forces

VZCZCXRO2471
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0976 3011431
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281431Z OCT 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0259
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 KINSHASA 000976

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS MASS KPKO CG
SUBJECT: GDRC EFFORTS TO ORGANIZE THE ARMED FORCES

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 1, a draft Law to Organize the Armed
Forces, a critical component of national institutional reform, was
introduced in the National Assembly. Parliamentarians invited
Defense Minister Charles Mwando Nsimba to explain the reform plan on
October 6. While the Kabila administration defends the draft law as
a necessary step toward solidifying the country's defenses, some
observers find the concentration of military command in the
presidency contrary to the constitution. End summary.

The Kabila Administration: A United Front
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) Defense Minister Charles Mwando Nsimba told the National
Assembly on October 6 that the three-phase reform would require ten
years to develop a modern national army subject to civilian control
and capable of defending the country. The phases progress from
individual soldier, to unit, and ultimately coordinated national
defense. In prepared comments, Mwando said the reform plan's first
phase (2009-11) centers on the entire career of a soldier from
recruitment and training, to equipping and paying, and ultimately
retirement. The stated goal of phase one is to develop soldiers
capable of replacing MONUC personnel. Phase two (2012-16) would
develop units in terms of both territorial organization and combat
capabiliies, with an emphasis on mounting defensive operations and
deploying rapid reaction forces. Phase three (2017-19) would
optimize the military to serve as a credible deterrence force for
national defense.


Opposition: "Focus on Meaningful Reforms"
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) Senator Jacques Djoli (MLC), interviewed by Radio Okapi on
October 8, said the draft law is too narrowly focused on
organization, costs, and implementation time. Djoli, vice president
of the Senate's Defense and Security Commission, said the law should
focus on improving FARDC living conditions and rationalizing the
Army admission process, which he likened to "a bin where they can
throw everyone and rank them regardless of merit."

4. (U) In a balanced editorial headlined "Army Reform: Now or
Never," local daily Le Potentiel called the reform plan "a realistic
approach with a national vision." The independent newspaper asked
if the DRC has the political will to see through the reform mandate
by which the Congolese government was elected in 2006.

5. (SBU) A preliminary analysis by MONUC officials criticizes the
proposed law for centralizing both operational and tactical command
and control in the presidency, leaving undefined the size and
capacities of the force components, and weakening military justice
by not clearly placing it under the authority of the supreme "Cour
de Cassation" (military court system) as called for in the
Constitution.

6. (SBU) Comment: Article 191 of the Constitution states that an
organic law should define the organization and functioning of the
armed forces. However, the law under consideration does not define
those roles, but leaves them up to presidential decision-making.
Indeed, the Defense Minister and the military high command would
lose powers under the proposed law that gives development of defense
policy -- without legislative oversight -- to the president as
supreme commander. The authority of senior military leadership
would be limited to administrative and logistical coordination. In
a nod to rule of law, some local commentators observe that President
Qa nod to rule of law, some local commentators observe that President
Kabila is codifying what he would have done even without legislative
authorization. End comment.
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