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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09KINSHASA1144 2009-12-24 11:24:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kinshasa
Cable title:  

KENGO SAYS GOVERNMENT IS NEGOTIATING WITH EQUATEUR

Tags:   PGOV PINS EFIN MCAP MASS PREL CG 
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VZCZCXRO5075
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1144/01 3581124
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241124Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0498
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
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001144 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/24/2019
TAGS: PGOV PINS EFIN MCAP MASS PREL CG
SUBJECT: KENGO SAYS GOVERNMENT IS NEGOTIATING WITH EQUATEUR
REBELS; DISCUSSES LEGISLATIVE AGENDA PRIORITIES AND SSR

REFORM

Classified By: Ambassador William J. Garvelink for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).



1. (C) Summary: Ambassador met December 21 with Senate
President Kengo wa Dondo. Kengo said the GDRC is negotiating
with Dongo rebels, discussed his legislative agenda for the
upcoming session of parliament, and gave his view on security
sector reform (SSR). His priorities for the legislative
session are IMF eligibility, creation of an Independent
National Electoral Commission, and decentralization. Kengo
said he expected to make an official visit to the U.S. in
coming weeks. End summary.

Dongo: Government talking with rebels


--------------------------





2. (C) Ambassador met with Kengo at his request in Kengo's
office suite at the national parliament building. Ambassador
was accompanied by defense attache and acting political
counselor (notetaker). Kengo led off with a discussion of
the situation in Equateur, his home province. In a surprise
revelation of high-level negotiations between President
Kabila's government and Equateur-based paramilitary fighters,
Kengo said the principal leader of the Dongo insurgency named
a steep price for laying down arms: a flat in Kinshasa.
While Kengo quoted Kabila as not objecting to an exchange of
property for a return of both peace and displaced persons,
the agreement would not absolve culprits from "being pursued
by justice." (Note: Kengo's comments came as a surprise as
the government has not commented on its contact with rebel
leaders nor has the press reported on this. End note.)

Legislative agenda


--------------------------





3. (SBU) International Monetary Fund: Kengo said his first
legislative priority was meeting IMF assistance
prerequisites. Pending draft laws would implement the DRC's
poverty reduction and growth strategy, and economic reform
programs. Discussing the need for transparency in the open
market, Kengo offered a concrete example in the form of a
hypothetical infrastructure project that should be open to
competitive bidding from domestic, parastatal, and
international construction firms -- a process presently
obfuscated by the government's preference to award contracts
to parastatals.



4. (SBU) Electoral Commission: Kengo said it was necessary
to establish the National Independent Electoral Commission by
March 2010 to prepare for 2011 local and general elections,
which Kengo -- echoing other recent interlocutors -- said
would take place in February and September, respectively.
The governing majority party would appoint four of the seven
commission members, the opposition three. While some local
observers protest the lack of civil society participation
(represented on the Independent Electoral Commission that
administered the 2006 elections), others note that many
active in civil society are themselves quite closely tied to
politics. Kengo recalled that voting in 2006 was held at the
lowest possible administrative level, but it remains to be
seen for 2011 whether the village council would operate
ballot boxes.



5. (SBU) Decentralization: Article 226 of the 2006
Congolese constitution stipulates that within 36 months of
ratification the country's 11 provinces would devolve into


26. Legislation to bring into effect the new provinces
passed in different versions in each chamber, and is now
Qpassed in different versions in each chamber, and is now
under review before a joint conference committee.
Legislative deliberations may be moot, however, given the
results of an unfinished report of the constitutional review
commission that met in July. The question according to Kengo
is whether the 26 administrative areas are "ready for more
responsibility." While districts and territories, whose
ruling officials are nominated by the Minister of the
Interior and approved by the President, have experience with
local governance including administering budgets funded by
central government tax retrocession, vast tracts of the rural
interior are directly administered by provincial governors.
Ganting autonomy to non-viable political entities tat lack
market and basic infrastructure would be counterproductive,
Kengo concluded.

SSR: U.S. LIB training to be the model


--------------------------



KINSHASA 00001144 002 OF 002





6. (SBU) Security sector reform: Kengo said several SSR
laws are currently before each chamber including laws on
reforms of the army (FARDC), the national police (NPC), and,
in the Senate, armed forces personnel statutes. Kengo said a
vote on personnel issues (e.g. recruitment, training, and
promotion) would probably be held in the regular
parliamentary session set to begin in March 2010. Kengo
offered his analysis that it was necessary "to create an army
that addresses our needs and performs at an appropriate
level. It should be well equipped, well trained, well paid,
and capable of rapid deployment to defend Congolese
territory." He expressed his support for USG-training of a
light infantry battalion (LIB) in Kisangani (septel) and
hoped to see it as a model of a Congolese army operating at
international standards.



7. (C) He said the future footprint of the FARDC would be a
force bifurcated between a Western-based unit in Kitona and
Eastern-based unit in Kamina. All soldiers would be trained
and based at either of these two installations, he said,
allowing the army to focus on protecting territorial
integrity and the NPC on internal security. He elucidated
that recruitment could include mixage or brassage soldiers,
but they would have to join new recruits in a common basic
training. He described an ideal inductee as over 18 years
old, serving a 5-year enlistment, and who is single. The
latter provision, Kengo added, would remove family
distractions but he clarified that married soldiers would not
be excluded from the army; only their families would be
excluded from military housing requiring them to stay with
relatives. He agreed that pay was a fundamental issue in
attracting and retaining soldiers and that mobile banking
might be a practicable implementation method, but it was
necessary first to know the name, rank, and location of all
soldiers and the enlistment rolls are not yet complete.

Trip to the United States


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Kengo noted in passing that he intends to travel to
the United States in coming weeks and would visit Washington.
He did not provide details. (Note: Kengo may have
downplayed the travel issue so as to avoid the perception he
had asked the ambassador to visit him for the main purpose of
requesting a visa. A frequent traveler to Europe, where he
has family and a home in Belgium, to our knowledge Kengo has
not been to the U.S. since the ambassador's arrival in
November 2007. Embassy will request meetings for him if his
itinerary and schedule permit. End note.)



9. (C) Comment: Kengo, undoubtedly one of the DRC's
cleverest politicians and a legendary "survivor" (he served
as Mobutu's prime minister on three occasions), was born Leon
Lubicz in 1935 to a Polish father and Tutsi mother. He is
the only important politician in the DRC who is not a member
of Kabila's ruling coalition. Kabila initially tried to
prevent him from becoming president of the Senate but later
accepted him when Kengo expressed a willingness to work
constructively with the majority coalition. Kengo's views
are usually reasonable, pragmatic and more open to
cooperation with Western partners than are those espoused by
many leading Congo politicians. This was evident as he
discussed SSR and the U.S. LIB training program in Kisangani.
Qdiscussed SSR and the U.S. LIB training program in Kisangani.
He is believed to have leaked to the international press
that Kabila supporters in parliament were considering
changing the constitution to allow the president to remain in
office after a second term. Kengo is clearly committed to
making the senate a real player in national politics,
fulfilling its constitutional role as a check and balance
against the executive branch. End comment.

GARVELINK