Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09LUANDA249
2009-04-14 16:30:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Luanda
Cable title:  

CABINDA: SECURITY INCIDENT PROVOKES STERN REACTIONS

Tags:  PHUM PGOV AO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO9571
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0249/01 1041630
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141630Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5435
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000249 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV AO
SUBJECT: CABINDA: SECURITY INCIDENT PROVOKES STERN REACTIONS

REF: 2007 LUANDA 1281

Classified By: Charge d'affaires Jeff Hawkins, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000249

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV AO
SUBJECT: CABINDA: SECURITY INCIDENT PROVOKES STERN REACTIONS

REF: 2007 LUANDA 1281

Classified By: Charge d'affaires Jeff Hawkins, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary: On March 31, the Front for the Liberation of
the Enclave of Cabinda-Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC)
claimed responsibility for an attack on three
Chinese-operated trucks in Cabinda province in which one
Chinese national died. Despite a 2006 cease-fire with the
rest of FLEC and government assurances that an insurgency is
no longer operative, the attack and strong FLEC-FAC claims of
responsibility suggest security concerns in the sensitive,
oil-rich province persist. In light of a heavy handed GRA
response to this and other incidents, opposition and civil
society are quietly questioning the ability of the Cabindan
authorities to maintain security in a manner consistent with
their human rights obligations. End Summary.

-------------- --------------
Security incidents continue, FLEC-FAC rhetoric escalates
-------------- --------------


2. (C) On March 31, FLEC-FAC claimed responsibility for
attacks on three Chinese-operated trucks in the area near
Cacongo on the border road to the Massabi crossing with
Congo-Brazzaville, an area with a considerable security
presence. In a public statement, the FLEC-FAC claimed that
"the aim was to cut the heads of the Chinese."


3. (C) Both the GRA and an oil company operating in the
region discounted FLEC-FAC's claim, seeing little threat for
their operations. RSO received word from an Overseas
Security Advisory Council member company operating in Cabinda
that the local government had confirmed the ambush, but
insisted "bandits" were responsible rather than the
politically-motivated FLEC-FAC. The security contact told us
that the claim of banditry was "broadly credible" and that,
even if the FLEC-FAC were responsible for the attack, the
organization's "capability to conduct further such attacks
will be limited, both because of the success of
counter-insurgency operations since 2002 and the inevitable
increase in the Angolan army presence in the Massabi area
following this incident." They advised caution, but did not
judge the threat to be a danger to continuing business
operations, saying that "the reiteration of FLEC-FAC's
threats against foreign companies underscores the importance

of obtaining community support for foreign investment."


4. (C) Most elements of the Front for the Liberation of the
Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) were absorbed into the Cabindan
Forum for Dialogue, which signed a memorandum of
understanding with the government in 2006, but a small group
of militants of the FLEC-FAC did not sign on to this accord
and security incidents against government and expatriate
targets, though greatly diminished, have continued. The
attack represents continuing low levels of unrest in the
hinterland of Cabinda, but is especially notable because it
took place on an allegedly secure highway and was accompanied
by unusually strong rhetoric from the FLEC-FAC. Past attacks
have also targeted expatriates, including a Brazilian oil
worker in December 2007 (Ref A) and two construction workers
in March 2008.

--------------
Civilian or Military Justice?
--------------


5. (C) The Angolan government response to the attack has been
swift and apparently indiscriminate. The President of the
Cabindan Bar Association, a lawyer who does pro-bono work for
Cabindans who stand accused of security crimes, told PolOff
that eight people from the village nearest to the site of the
attack had been detained by security forces on suspicion of
involvement in the attack on the Chinese-operated trucks. He
said that neighbors and family members of those detained
provided him with names and alibis for five of the detainees.
A local journalist later confirmed this account, saying that
the nearest village had been "depopulated" and around eight
had been arrested on suspicions of involvement in the attack.
The journalist asserted that five days after the initial
attack, on April 1, a military patrol in the area was
attacked (amidst a great increase in security, including
joint civilian-military patrols) and that foreigners are no
longer circulating in the area.


6. (C) In an April 7 conversation with the UNITA
parliamentarian from Cabinda, Raul Danda, about the future of
the accused in the Chinese trucks ambush, Danda said that
mass arrests are a common strategy on the part of the
government to "root out" support for FLEC-FAC. Like the
other interlocutors, Danda insisted that the incident was

LUANDA 00000249 002 OF 002


political in nature and was not "banditry" as the government
claimed. Danda said he believed that in most cases the
accused are innocent and drew a parallel to the case of
Fernando Lelo documented in the 2008 Human Rights Report.
(Note: Lelo was a former Voice of America journalist who was
convicted of state security crimes in a military court in
Cabinda, despite exculpatory evidence from his employer
indicating that he was working off shore at the time of the
alleged incident. End note.) Danda and the President of the
Cabindan Bar Association independently confirmed that Lelo is
in good health and has access to visitors.


7. (C) On March 24, a trial began in Cabinda's civilian
courts against Joao Mateus Luemba, Natalicio Mbatchi, Antonio
Zau, Elias Meno, and Garcia David Antonio, who stand accused
of armed rebellion and homicide for an attack on a police
post that took place in December 2007. The defendants' lawyer
and a recent international visitor to the prison where the
men are being held separately told PolOff that the men
reported being subjected to electric shock on the tongue and
genitals during their pre-trial detention. Danda said that
Luemba, a local chieftain, had no clear idea of why he was
being held. (Comment: The court filing against the five men
is vague and details no compelling state evidence. However,
the venue does signal a change, since past trials have been
held in military courts. End comment.)


8. (C) Comment: It remains unclear whether the attack on the
Chinese convoy represents political violence related to a
still smoldering insurgency, as is claimed by the FLEC-FAC,
or simple banditry, as the GRA and our oil company contacts
suggest. It is certain, however, that the GRA takes security
threats in the sensitive Cabinda province seriously. Our
civil society contacts maintain that the GRA is so concerned
about keeping a lid on any political violence that it is
willing to ignore basic human rights in the province. End
Comment.
HAWKINS