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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05KINSHASA2017 2005-12-12 07:48:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kinshasa
Cable title:  

PRE-ELECTORAL MOVES: KAMITATU GAMBIT COULD BRING

Tags:   PGOV CG 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 002017 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2015
TAGS: PGOV CG
SUBJECT: PRE-ELECTORAL MOVES: KAMITATU GAMBIT COULD BRING
DOWN MLC

REF: KINSHASA 2001

Classified By: PolCouns MSanderson, reasons 1.4 b/d.



1. (C) The long-simmering tension between MLC president (and
DRC Vice President) Jean-Pierre Bemba and National Assembly
President Olivier Kamitatu (the Secretary General and number
two of the MLC) has reached an explosive point which is
fracturing the party. The divorce appears to have been
triggered by Pierre Pay Pay's decision to form a political
group and run for president in the upcoming elections. Pay
Pay was quickly joined by former MLC minister, Jose Endundu,
whose "defection" may have encouraged Kamitatu to consider
the Pay Pay coalition group as an alternative political
vehicle for him to become prime minister in the
post-Transistion government.



2. (C) While not having officially declared his intention to
jump ship (a fine but potentially important point), Kamitatu
did circulate a letter November 24 to MLC Assembly members,
asking them to consider actively joining him in merging with
the Pay Pay group (a suggestion supported by 22 MLC
parliamentarians, according to Thomas Luhaka, head of the MLC
component in the Assembly). Bemba seized on the letter as a
declaration of Kamitatu's intent to switch allegiance and,
after meeting personally with MLC deputies November 27,
convoked a meeting of the party's founding members December 1
to ask that Kamitatu's name be officially expunged from the
party's rolls, and that he be removed from his position as
President of the National Assembly. The founders meeting
approved both proposals, but Kamitatu is not going quietly
into that good night. He fired back in a published statement
December 5, in which he said that he had never resigned from
the party, characterized his letter as merely proposing an
electoral alliance with the Pay Pay group, and pointed to the
transitional constitution as guaranteeing his position as
Assembly President. In response, Bemba announced December 9
that Kamitatu has been replaced as Secretary General of the
party by former Minister of Budget Francois Mwamba. (Comment:
The move allows Bemba to try to mend fences with the key
Equateur delegation in his party while at the same time
avoids centralizing too much power in one man's hands, as had
been the case with Kamitatu who was both Secretary General
and President of the Assembly. End Comment.)



3. (C) The plot continues to thicken. Moise Nyaranbagu, head
of the RCD component in the Assembly (and a lawyer) said that
actually the transitional constitution contains two
conflicting provisions, one of which identifies the
President, the four Vice Presidents and the President of the
National Assembly as positions whose incumbents must remain
in place for the duration of the transition. However, a
second provision equally clearly says that the position of
National Assembly President is allocated to the MLC party and
must be occupied by a member of that component. Therefore,
Nyarangabu said, Bemba does have, at least technically, the
right to demand Kamitatu's dismissal since he has been
officially removed from the MLC party. The key element, he
said, would be whether Kamitatu has indeed actually lost the
support of President Kabila and the PPRD party, as is
popularly rumored. If true, he mused, Kamitatu probably is
out of a job -- and, he added, has certainly in any event
overplayed his hand by alienating both Kabila and Bemba
simultaneously.



4. (C) Thomas Luhaka, head of the MLC component in the
Assembly, told PolCouns December 6 that Bemba already has
contacted Kabila to propose that he, Luhaka, replace Kamitatu
as President of the National Assembly and that supposedly
Kabila indicated his approval. This might indeed be the
case. PolCouns had already spoken December 3 with Augustin
Katumba, Kabila's senior advisor, who said that President
Kabila was deeply hurt by Kamitatu's decision to "railroad"
the Amnesty Law through the Assembly over his clearly
expressed objections (reftel). Katumba said that Kabila now
regards Kamitatu (who had been extremely close to and
cooperative with the PPRD for the last year) as a "traitor,"
and speculated that if Bemba wished to remove Kamitatu that
the President would not object.



5. (C) Comment: Kamitatu may have overplayed his hand, but
the game is far from over. Legal actions will most certainly
be pursued, and our guess is that Bemba'a MLC indeed has the
legal right to replace Kamitatu at the National Assembly.
Definitive rulings, however, will take time. Of more likely
relevance in any event are the politics of the evolving
situation, including the strength of whatever parliamentary
and party support Kamitatu establishes for himself. Taking
Kamitatu out of the President's chair would also pose
potential problems for passage of remaining key legislation,
including the electoral law. The repercussions for the MLC
and both men of the Bemba-Kamitatu conflict are only just
beginning to emerge. The most likely at the moment seems to
be that the MLC breaks apart before next year's elections.
This would be particularly problematic for Bemba, who has
spent the transition looking out for his own interests while
refusing to safeguard and reward his followers. He now has
very little leverage with which to encourage party members to
stay his course. Kamitatu, by far the more popular and
well-regarded, can make a legitimate argument that he will
assist (including financially) with the electoral campaigns
of those who choose to follow him.



6. (C) Comment (continued): As for the PPRD, they likely see
an opportunity to weaken two potential rivals at the same
time by fueling the fire, since Kamitatu's "defection" from
the MLC could leave Bemba with just a rump element but
Bemba's likely reprisals and the vagaries of ongoing
political realignments could also leave Kamitatu in a
vulnerable position. Kabila, however, may be sensitive of the
risks to urgent Transition milestones such as the election
law that would follow an abrupt Kamitatu removal. If so, he
could at minimum delay any overt move to cooperate with
Bemba. Caution in any event generally characterizes Kabila's
actions. Initial discussion of the situation within the
International Committee to Accompany the Transition (CIAT)
focused on the risks to pending key legislation, but as well
on the need to steer clear of involvement in the internal
politics of the situation. End comment.
MEECE