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Cablegate: Clan Fighting: Equateur Province Remains Tense

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1033/01 3281708
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O 241708Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0322
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE IMMEDIATE 0142
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINSHASA 001033

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM PGOV CG
SUBJECT: CLAN FIGHTING: EQUATEUR PROVINCE REMAINS TENSE

REF: KINSHASA 997

KINSHASA 00001033 001.2 OF 003


1. Summary: Dongo, the sleepy Ubangui river town that was
the scene of recent fighting between the rival Enyele and
Manzaya clans, is calm, but completely deserted. A small
detachment of MONUC's Ghanaian force is in Dongo, along with
300 Congolese Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) elements. The
number of dead is uncertain, but the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that
100 people could have been killed in the violence. UNHCR
estimates that around 37,000 residents have fled across the
river into the Republic of Congo, with approximately the same
number of IDPs in the DRC. There has been recent fighting in
Bongoma Territory, where 9,000 residents of a village
reportedly fled fearing an attack. Although groups have
issued communiques calling on residents to resist the DRC
security forces, MONUC believes--and we agree--the fighting
is clan-based and not part of a rebellion, for now. The
events in the area highlight the lack of state authority
throughout the DRC and the small footprint (and capacity) of
MONUC to deal with serious problems outside of the East. End
summary.

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History of Enyele-Manzaya Dispute
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) The conflict between the Enyele and Manzaya clans
of the Lobala ethnic group dates back to at least 1945-46,
when the two groups began quarreling over fishing rights and
profits from exports of fish across the Ubangui River to the
Republic of Congo (ROC). Fishing is the only source of
income in the area. In March/April 2009, the dispute
reignited following the replacement of the local
administrator (the central government's representative) in
Dongo. Enyele elements apparently attacked Manzaya elements,
claiming the Manzaya were not indigenous to the area and
therefore did not have the right to engage in local commerce.
Between March-September 2009, Enyele and Manzaya clashed in
at least four separate incidents. MONUC sources told us that
in July, Enyele fighters burned down the town of Manzaya
(Note: the name of the town is also spelled "Monzaya." End
note). The newly appointed administrator, a Banzaya, fled
the area.

3. (SBU) In October, the deposed administrator returned with
a small detachment of the Congolese National Police (PNC).
Initial press reports indicated that the Enyele killed 47
policemen (reftel). MONUC told us that it could only verify
that 16 policemen had been killed in Dongo, but 25 policemen
were missing. Our MONUC contact opined that, while the
missing policemen could be dead, it is also possible that
individuals, many of whom are highly superstitious, might
have fled a much-feared witch doctor known as "General"
Odjani, who led the Enyele fighters.

Dongo Calm, But a Ghost Town
----------------------------

4. (SBU) Several MONUC sources told us that Dongo and a
40-kilometer radius around the town is completely deserted,
with its residents having fled across to the ROC or into the
surrounding bush. MONUC said that women and children had
apparently preferred to flee across the river, while many men
went into the forest. Although numbers are fluid, UNHCR's
Kinshasa Office estimated nearly 37,000 persons have fled
into the ROC, confirming information received from Embassy
Brazzaville. According to MONUC, there are perhaps another
QBrazzaville. According to MONUC, there are perhaps another
36,000 IDPs but our sources stressed this is extremely
difficult to estimate.

5. (SBU) When the current fighting broke out, the nearest
MONUC forces were 230 km away in Gemena. After failed
attempts to reach the area by various means--road, river, and
assessment of air movement--a small detachment of 20 Ghanaian
troops from Gemena reached Dongo, where 300 policemen from
the PNC's Rapid Intervention Police (PIR) unit had already
arrived. NPC Second Deputy Inspector General Benjamin
Alongoboni personally led the 500 PIR forces dispersed
throughout the region and guided MONUC on a tour of Dongo,
where bodies were "strewn all over the streets" (Comment:
Alongoboni brought credibility to the operation as a native
of the region, and member of the opposition Movement for the
Liberation of Congo, MLC, party, which has its origins in
Equateur. His selection makes it difficult for the opposition
to claim human rights violations by the central government in

KINSHASA 00001033 002.2 OF 003


opposition territory. End comment). A member of MONUC noted
that the PIR had left the bodies of slain PNC on the street,
perhaps in an effort to demonstrate that the PIR had not been
responsible for the killings (Note: some observers were
concerned that, following the initial killing of PNC troops,
the PNC/PIR would respond with disproportionate force against
the local population, as it did towards Bundu-dia-Kongo (BDK)
supporters in Bas-Congo Province in early 2008. End note).
Apparently, many residents were coerced into participating in
violent acts, much as many Rwandans had been forced to do
during the 1994 genocide. Recognizing this, the PIR told
MONUC it would only target the leaders of the "rebellion."
The PIR had arrested approximately 100 people in Dongo on
various charges. MONUC said it had information that the
Enyele leaders were in the Imese area, using a boat, which
they stole from UNHCR in June, to wreak havoc up and down
this stretch of the Ubangui.

6. (SBU) A team comprised of representatives from several UN
bodies returned November 14 from a fact-finding mission to
Dongo, Tangal, Ozene, and Kungu. A MONUC spokesman said the
team could not establish an exact number of casualties. GDRC
Communications Minister Lambert Mende announced that the GDRC
would send a second mission to the region with "more robust"
humanitarian and security elements. An OCHA spokesman said
approximately 100 people had died in the violence. Dongo,
according to the spokesman, had been empty since the PIR took
control of it on November 7 (Note: another MONUC contact told
us that it was not clear if the population had already fled
Dongo before the police arrived, or if they fled fearing the
arrival of the police. End note).

Fighting Continues
------------------

7. (SBU) MONUC reported that fighting continues in the
Bomongo area, as Enyele troops reportedly killed 7 Manzayas
on November 17 at Sabasaba, ad the Manzayas retaliated by
killing five Enyeles on November 18. A provincial deputy,
Jean Faustin Mokoma (AMP), said that additional fighting
occurred at Longundo, a village near Sabasaba.

8. (U) Radio Okapi reported that the village of Buburu in
Bomongo Territory, with a population of 9,000, emptied on
November 20 following a rumor that the village would be
attacked. A resident told Radio Okapi that, absent any
FARDC, PNC, or MONUC presence, the population fled across the
river to Impfondo and into the surrounding forest. UNHCR and
ICRC temporarily closed their offices in Buburu.

Call to Arms?
-------------

9. (SBU) The "Patriotic Resistance of Dongo" issued a
communique on November 18 stating that DRC security forces
had attacked its positions in the Dongo area. The group
claimed to have access to significant numbers of arms and it
announced it aimed to attack and capture Gemena. The
Alliance of Patriots for the Reform of the Congo (APARECO),
led by Honore Ngbanda, has also published several texts
critical of the GDRC and calling on local residents to resist
the FARDC and PNC interventions. It is uncertain whether
these are real political associations and/or militias, or are
simply taking advantage of violence in the area to draw
attention to their grievances.

10. (SBU) Comment: We share MONUC's assessment that the
Q10. (SBU) Comment: We share MONUC's assessment that the
fighting is for now a clan-based dispute, not a rebellion.
Nevertheless, some reports suggest that the fighting could
have been sparked by supporters of jailed DRC opposition
leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, a native of Equateur province, who
were attempting to access an arms cache. Neither UNHCR nor
MONUC believe that the situation will improve enough to allow
refugees and IDPs to return home in the near-term. The
situation is obviously very tense, and it will be difficult
to obtain reliable, up-to-date information on the military
and humanitarian situation in the area as the villages are
mostly reachable only by boat. We were also initially
concerned that the PNC might use excessive force against the
local population, but for now the PNC seems to have exercised
restraint.

The sudden eruption of fighting in Equateur is a reminder
that the entire DRC, not just the East, remains fragile. It
also points to the lack of state authority throughout the

KINSHASA 00001033 003.2 OF 003


country, and the possibility that well-armed groups can
easily employ their strength vis-a-vis locally-based FARDC
and PNC units. It is also a reminder of how important it is
to forge ahead with SSR efforts. Finally, this situation may
be a foretaste of things to come should MONUC remove all
troops from the western part of the DRC. With the
overwhelming majority of its forces already in the East,
MONUC can still respond to challenges to state authority
throughout the country, but cannot do so quickly and
effectively. End comment.
GARVELINK

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