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Cablegate: Equateur Elections: The End of the Opposition?

VZCZCXRO2683
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1025 3231358
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191358Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0314
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001025

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINS CG
SUBJECT: EQUATEUR ELECTIONS: THE END OF THE OPPOSITION?

REF: KINSHASA 652

1. (SBU) Summary: The interim governor, Jean-Claude Baende,
won a special gubernatorial election in Equateur Province.
Baende is an independent with close ties to President
Kabila's AMP. As the AMP now controls all 11 provinces, it
is well-situated to crush a feckless opposition in (unlikely)
2010 local elections and 2011 national elections. End
Summary.

Friday the 13th: Scary for the Opposition
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) Provincial parliamentarians held a special
gubernatorial election in Equateur Province on November 13
(Note: Provincial governors are elected by their respective
unicameral provincial parliaments. End note). Independent
Jean-Claude Baende, who has close ties to President Kabila's
coalition (AMP) won a clear majority with 60 of the 108 votes
cast. In second place was MLC candidate Jean-Lucien Busa.
Busa was the beneficiary of a late endorsement by former
candidate Jose Engbanda, but polled only 28 votes. Gabriel
Bolenge received the remaining 20 votes. The fourth
candidate, Michel Bongongo, obtained no votes.

3. (U) Baende's running mate Francois Mokako won the
vice-governorship. Baende was the previous vice-governor who
led the province since the former governor, Jose Makila
(MLC), failed a motion of no-confidence in January 2009
(reftel).

4. (U) Candidates campaigned primarily on economic themes
pledging to meet the challenges of regional poverty with
enhanced agricultural production, good governance, and proper
management of provincial allocations from national budgets.
Civil society actively participated in campaigning including
calls by NGOs such as the Roman Catholic Commission for
Justice and Peace which called for "a visionary governor
concerned with development and human rights."

Promises, Bribes, and Peace
---------------------------

5. (U) In his victory speech, Baende, elected with 55% of
the vote, asked for Equateurians to "join hands in
reconciliation and peace" as he sought to respect the rights
of all, promote equal representation of provincial districts,
and to work on the "5 Chantiers" outlined by President Kabila.

6. (U) Provincial MP Constant Mbiyo, head of the MLC caucus
in the Equateur Assembly, claimed the AMP ensured Baende's
victory by paying bribes totaling $10,000 to the electors.

7. (U) National Deputy Jean-Claude Vuemba (MLC) called for a
national congress to reestablish the opposition, which, he
claimed, is suffering from both a lack of strategic
leadership and recent tactical failures. The opposition is
leaderless with the "political death" of MLC stalwart
Jean-Pierre Bemba and the long political absence for health
reasons of Etienne Tshisekedi of the UDPS. Mounting
political failures include the aborted no-confidence vote
against the Prime Minister, arduous budget negotiations, and
losses in Bas-Congo assembly and Equateur gubernatorial
elections. Vuemba, a representative from Kasangulu, hopes to
create a broad opposition which can speak with a single voice
and return to power democratically in the upcoming elections
of 2010 (local) and 2011 (national).

8. (SBU) Comment. Although this was only a provincial
election, there were national implications. Equateur was the
only province without an AMP governor. While Baende is
nominally independent, it is clear he was the AMP's preferred
candidate. The MLC, under Makila, self-destructed (reftel),
Qcandidate. The MLC, under Makila, self-destructed (reftel),
and thus handed Equateur--the home province of Mobutu and
Bemba--to Kabila on a silver platter.

9. (SBU) A related question with national implications is
how the opposition will regroup for the 2011 national
elections. All of the major opposition parties (MLC, UDPS,
RCD) are beset with internal disputes. Unless the opposition
agrees to unite, at least to support a sole opposition party,
the AMP will continue to benefit from a divide-and-rule
policy. End Comment.
GARVELINK

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