Cablegate: Scenesetter for the Visit of Assistant Secretary Jendayi

Published: Wed 27 Aug 2008 04:46 PM
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1. (SBU) The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is slowly
grappling with fundamental governance, security and development
challenges following historic 2006 national elections. The promise
of peace and democratization and the importance of the DRC as the
linchpin of Central Africa and beyond have made it one of the
Department's top seven priority assistance countries in Africa. The
January 2008 Goma accords between the government and armed groups,
facilitated by the U.S., UN and EU, created a process aimed at
achieving peace, security and development in the country's eastern
provinces. Widespread insecurity only amplifies a political and
judicial vacuum throughout the country, contributing to a pervasive
climate of impunity in which armed men routinely abuse civilians,
particularly women and children. There are clear signs the
population is growing impatient with the pace of the government's
efforts and skeptical that democracy can solve the country's
problems. Your visit will reaffirm U.S. commitment to a long
partnership with the Congolese people to develop democratic
institutions and reinforce our shared objective of a peaceful and
prosperous DRC.
2. (SBU) Summary continued: The Mission's overriding goals focus on
reinforcing Congolese political will and capacity for robust and
effective leadership and oversight at all levels of government,
while promoting broad economic development. Together with
Washington and other diplomatic missions, we will identify and
engage key decision-makers and implement results-oriented
initiatives to support transparent governance, legislative
accountability, judicial independence, political pluralism and
provincial and local autonomy. Our assistance programs focus on
enhancing security, fighting poverty, and supporting democratic
reforms -- fully supporting and reflecting the transformational
diplomacy goals laid out by Secretary Rice. Foreign assistance
resources for the DRC are increasing. The FY 2006 bilateral foreign
assistance budget for DRC programs totaled $68 million, including
funds received from central accounts but excluding humanitarian
assistance. Amounts for FY 2007 rose to $71 million (with
supplemental funding), and rose again in FY 2008 to over $150
million (also including supplemental funding), including increases
for peace and security (including military cooperation), governing
justly and democratically, health, HIV/AIDS, education, and economic
growth programs. Humanitarian assistance has provided an additional
$80 million per year on average during this period. This, however,
does not reveal the full story: total U.S. assistance, including
our contribution of approximately $300 million to MONUC plus
significant donations to other international organizations, are
likely to bring our total assistance levels to the DRC this year to
more than $600 million. End summary.
Peace and Security
3. (SBU) Internal and external challenges facing the Congolese
military (FARDC) will be a key topic of discussion during your
visit. The FARDC suffers from low morale, weak command and control,
widespread corruption, haphazard administration, poor operational
planning, limited training and equipment, and questionable military
capability. State and irregular military forces are responsible for
many of the worst human rights abuses in the country.
4. (SBU) Reform of the DRC's security services has achieved little
success to date. DRC plans for reform of the military, police, and
justice sectors presented at a late-February international
conference on security sector reform (SSR) and follow-up sessions
lack a sense of priorities and appear to be little more than laundry
lists to which donors are expected to pledge. In August 2008 the
DRC launched another round of technical roundtables in each of the
following sectors: formation of a Rapid Reaction Force; Disarmament,
Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR); and the situation in the
east. While serving as a useful forum for communication, progress
has been slow. Additionally, USG plans to fund the training of an
infantry battalion are eagerly awaited by the GDRC; your
interlocutors will be keen to discuss this with you during your
visit. However, it will be important to focus on the fact that the
USG has significant expectations of the GDRC in the context of this
training, particularly those outlined in the proposed memorandum of
5. (SBU) Other USG assistance to the DRC security services is
making an impact in the country. $20 million in FY 2008 PKO funds
is projected for the training of an infantry battalion. FY 2008 ESF
Supplemental resources and FY 2008 National Defense Authorization
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Act (NDAA) Section 1207 resources provide support for stabilization,
SSR, and military justice strengthening efforts. We have used PKO
funds to rehabilitate the officer training institute and provide
training for staff officers and military magistrates and
investigators. The International Military and Education Training
Program (IMET) funds U.S.-based courses that include
English-language training. INCLE (International Law Enforcement and
Control) funds from the Department of State's Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) are being
allocated to stand up the Congolese border police in Ituri District.
The Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Projects
appropriation - "NADR" -pays for the destruction of obsolete
ordnance. In addition, the $300 million in U.S. funding for MONUC
now also supports its new FARDC training program, designed to assist
the military plus up its capabilities in the context of its
operations in the east.
6. (SBU) Other partners are also involved in SSR. The EU has long
had significant involvement in the Congolese security sector,
including a European mission to assist the FARDC, known as EUSEC.
EUSEC has been involved in a number of very useful projects,
including carrying out a census of the FARDC and implementing reform
in the payment system of the military. On a bilateral basis,
France, Belgium and other EU member states have provided substantial
funding for military reform and training programs. South Africa and
Angola have also played major roles, including the training of FARDC
Challenges in the East
7. (SBU) You may also wish to discuss the Goma and Nairobi
processes with your interlocutors and the challenges both are facing
at the moment. Implementation of the Goma accords - particularly in
terms of reaching agreement on issues related to disengagement,
brassage, and DDR -- has proven to be problematic, highlighted by
recent unwillingness on the part of the CNDP to engage seriously in
the process. The GDRC needs to hear the message that the USG is
committed to the success of the accords and that, despite
difficulties, the government must stay within the bounds of the
process and not opt to resolve the CNDP problem by force.
8. (SBU) Equally, the government needs to hear the message that the
USG and international community expect them to do everything in
their power to isolate and cut off support for the FDLR to ensure
its disarmament, per the Nairobi communique. You may also, however,
wish to congratulate the GDRC for its recent success in convincing
FDLR-RUD fighters to disarm and relocate. In addition, you may also
wish to bring up the Rewards for Justice program and the importance
the USG places on it as a tool for capturing fugitives.
9. (SBU) MONUC consists of an 18,000-strong uniformed peacekeeping
operation, with military contingents in all provinces and major
cities, and more than 3,000 civilian employees. With an annual
budget of over $1 billion, it is the largest and most expensive UN
peacekeeping operation in history. The U.S., as the largest
contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, funds 27 percent of its
expenditures, i.e., approximately $300 million per year. India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uruguay and Nepal are the
leading contributors of peacekeeping troops, each with contingents
of more than 1,000. Much more than a simple peacekeeping operation,
it provides military, transportation, communications and
administrative services in the absence of a meaningful GDRC presence
outside Kinshasa and most provincial capitals. MONUC's Radio Okapi
is the only FM station broadcasting throughout the DRC in the
country's five main languages. MONUC also maintains regular flights
to all major Congolese cities.
10. (SBU) Another key aspect of MONUC's activities involves what is
known as the "stabilization plan," which aims to lay the groundwork
for the mission's eventual and orderly withdrawal, particularly from
the east. The plan is supported by an assistance package for
implementation, and consists of four principal components: a
security component, by which armed groups are disbanded through a
combination of political and military means; a political component,
which involves GDRC political actors advancing the peace processes;
a state authority component, by which institutions such as the
police, judiciary, and other elements of public administration are
strengthened; and a return and reintegration component, which aims
to aid and resettle ex-combatants, refugees, and internally
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displaced persons in local communities. The USG is providing
support either directly to or in cooperation with all aspects of the
stabilization plan through the FY 2008 Foreign Assistance budget,
the FY 2008 Supplemental ESF appropriation, and the FY 2008 NDAA
Section 1207 appropriation.
Democracy and Governance
11. (SBU) The Congolese people had high expectations that the
democratic process would improve their lives. The relatively large
turnout in the July and October 2006 presidential and parliamentary
elections demonstrated hopes for a democratic system of government.
New institutions, however, have been slow to generate momentum. The
500-member National Assembly counts only a small number of members
with legislative or government experience. The
Assembly and the 106-member Senate have only begun to consider a
heavy agenda of major legislation. Provincial officials are
unfamiliar with decentralized authority and lack resources, money
and experience. Elections for local and municipal officials are
tentatively scheduled for mid-2009 at the earliest.
12. (SBU) Parties and candidates aligned with Kabila's electoral
coalition, the Alliance for the Presidential
Majority (AMP), have working majorities in the National
Assembly and Senate, as well as eight of 11 provincial assemblies
and ten of 11 governorships -- leaving the opposition with little
apparent political clout.
13. (SBU) USG governance and institutional reform programs,
budgeted at $10.2 million for FY 2007 and $18.6 million for FY 2008,
focus on combating corruption and human rights abuses, developing
independent judicial and legislative institutions, facilitating
decentralization of state authority, and supporting local elections.
Objectives include long-term transformation, as well as direct
citizen access to services. USAID has provided assistance to
National Assembly deputies drafting key legislative proposals,
including laws relating to the financing of political parties,
decentralization, the establishment of a national election
commission and the protection of human rights. In addition, USAID
has conducted capacity-building seminars for National Assembly
deputies and staffers, supported the creation of provincial watchdog
and advocacy groups to encourage citizen participation in democratic
processes, and worked to develop skills of political party members,
foster grassroots anti-corruption initiatives, and establish mobile
courts and legal aid clinics.
Human Rights and Gender-Based Violence
14. (SBU) Security forces and armed groups remain responsible for
most human rights violations in the DRC, including unlawful
killings, disappearances, torture, rape and arbitrary arrest and
detention. Human rights advocates have extensively documented the
involvement of these elements in such abuses.
Constitutionally-protected freedoms of association, speech, and
protest are increasingly disregarded by security and administrative
authorities using vague Mobutu-and colonial-era laws to arrest and
detain perceived critics. The Embassy is working with NGOs and
other diplomatic missions to encourage Parliament to bring these
laws into line with the 2006 constitution.
15. (SBU) Sexual violence against women and girls in eastern DRC is
pervasive. While most of the recorded attacks have been by armed
groups and the FARDC, reports of rape by civilians is increasingly
prevalent. A general climate of impunity does nothing to discourage
these acts. In a recent report, the UN Human Rights Integrated
Office in the DRC (UNHRO) stated that, despite strengthened laws on
sexual violence, "law enforcement personnel and magistrates continue
to treat rape and sexual violence in general with a marked lack of
seriousness. Consequently, men accused of rape are often granted
bail or given relatively light sentences, and out-of-court
settlements of sexual violence cases are widespread." In fact,
relatively few cases are reported to the police, and fewer still
result in prosecution.
16. (SBU) USAID and the Departments of State and Defense support
activities to respond to and prevent sexual violence through a
variety of interventions in the eastern provinces. Since 2002,
USAID has allocated more than $10 million for activities to combat
gender-based violence in the Eastern DRC. In FY 2008, USAID is
programming $1.5 million to continue its holistic program of care
and support for rape survivors and other victims of sexual abuse.
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The Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS) taught
two three-week training sessions on the investigation of sex crimes
in 2008 to nearly all 350 of the FARDC military magistrates and
police investigators with investigatory and adjudicatory roles. The
program, funded through PKO monies, sponsored sessions in eight
different sites across the country, and received laudatory comments
from the international community. A follow-up proposal for
additional DIILS training is currently under review.
Economic Growth
17. (SBU) Most of the estimated 60 million Congolese have not
benefited from the country's vast natural resources, including
minerals, forests and rivers. With over 90 per cent unemployment
and an informal sector that rivals the formal economy in size, most
people survive on less than one dollar a day. The economy is
dominated by a large informal sector, and suffers from poor
infrastructure and endemic corruption. The government does not
fully control its resources, and the illegal exploitation of timber,
diamonds, gold, and strategic metal ore continues. Despite annual
GDP growth of nearly six per cent in 2007, per capita GDP is only
around $120. At the current growth rate, per capita income will not
reach pre-independence levels until the middle of the 21st century.
Economic growth, spurred largely by the mining sector in Katanga
province, is estimated to be slightly higher for 2008, but inflation
is forecast to double from under 10 percent in 2007 to a projected
20 percent or higher in 2008.
18. (SBU) Despite some progress on macroeconomic and financial
reforms since 2003, the IMF Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility (PRGF) lapsed in March 2007 due to continued
government overspending and failure to meet structural reform
targets. The DRC received little or no direct outside assistance to
support a $2.5 billion budget for 2007 and a $3.6 billion budget for
2008. The DRC has been granted Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)
status. However, without a PRGF program in place and with little
prospect of renegotiating one before the end of 2008, the DRC will
not receive any much-needed debt relief.
19. (SBU) The 2008 budget, signed into law by President
Kabila in January, calls for expenditures of $3.6 billion, much of
it for government salaries (including civil servants, public school
teachers and military personnel) and the security sector. Without
outside budget support in 2008, the GDRC may again face large
deficits, which it has historically financed through increased
currency issuance. The GDRC is making a concerted effort to raise
state revenue levels, but this may not solve the budget shortfall
problem. Since January 2008, GDRC spending has apparently been
contained within budgetary limits, but many of its expenses will
come due only during the last quarter of the year. Military
expenditures in eastern Congo appear to be driving much of the
recent overspending.
20. (SBU) The GDRC is working to implement the Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approved in mid-2006 by the IMF and
World Bank boards. The government's five-year program, approved by
the National Assembly in February 2007, is based on the PRSP and
focuses heavily on President
Kabila's five priority areas: infrastructure; employment;
education; water/electricity; and health. Economic growth will
depend on progress in these areas. In early 2008 the GDRC concluded
a major agreement with the Chinese government. Though not all
details have been made public, the GDRC announced that it will
exchange over 8 million tons of copper and over 200,000 tons of
cobalt for an estimated $6 billion in Chinese-funded infrastructure
projects, including roads, railway, universities, hospitals, housing
and clinics. China will also spend an estimated $3 billion in the
mining sector on as-yet-unnamed mining concessions. China is
exploring other possible "infrastructure for natural resources"
deals with the DRC.
21. (SBU) The USG is an active participant in the international
donors' Country Assistance Framework (CAF) process for 2007-10,
designed to align assistance strategies and support GDRC efforts to
implement the PRSP. Bilateral USG foreign assistance funding for
economic growth is modest, with only $8 million designated for
activities to increase agricultural productivity, although this is
supplemented by a $30 million, three-year Food for Peace program to
help spur rural development. USAID has active global development
alliances with mining, agro-business and health partners.
22. (SBU) U.S. commercial interests in the DRC are small but
growing, with a U.S. company (Seaboard Corporation) running the
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largest flour mill in the country and an American mining company
(Freeport McMoRan) gearing up to produce an estimated 100,000 tons
of copper metal by early 2009. USAID has an existing public-private
partnership (Global Development Alliance) with Freeport, and USAID
and the British Department for International Development (DFID) are
collaborating on efforts to develop new public-private partnerships
with several important companies in the copper sector and help the
GDRC implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
(EITI). USAID, through the Central African Regional Program for the
Environment (CARPE) and the Congo Basin Forestry Partnership (CBFP),
is working to promote better management of the forestry sector. The
U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has granted $500,000 for a
hydroelectric sector pre-feasibility study, and is looking at the
transportation (river and rail) sector for further opportunities for
U.S. investments in DRC infrastructure.
The Scene Today
23. (SBU) Your arrival comes at a moment of continued tension, as
well as continued hope. The Congolese people look to their
government, and the international community, for help to bring an
end to conflicts that have cost billions of dollars, uprooted
hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in millions of deaths.
These conflicts have also created an atmosphere of widespread
insecurity, contributing to a political and judicial vacuum in which
women and children are routinely abused, and in which the
perpetrators go unpunished. There are clear signs the population is
growing impatient with the pace of the government's efforts and
skeptical that democracy can solve its problems. In this
environment, we ask you to help us to reinforce the following
-- The Congolese people rightly expect responsible leadership at
home, as well as supportive international partners. We will
continue to support the new leadership to develop transparent
practices, establish good governance for the well-being of the
Congolese people, and improve the stewardship of its abundant
natural resources.
-- They are eager to realize tangible benefits from their investment
in democracy. They must cease being made victims of violence.
Human rights must be respected and violators punished.
-- Congo has taken remarkable strides to replace war with peaceful
democratic change. The successful elections were a tangible
demonstration of the people's desire for peaceful governance. The
United States is eager to see that momentum continue.
-- We encourage political and military authorities to pursue a
peaceful resolution of the security problems which persist in
-- United States' foreign assistance to the DRC is on the increase
across a range of sectors, and we look forward to working with the
GDRC to support the country's development agenda.
-- The United States will continue to support and work closely with
the GDRC and MONUC to bring about political reconciliation and to
prevent further conflict in the DRC and the region.
-- We strongly support the Nairobi and Goma processes and are
contributing funds and expertise to ensure their success will bring
lasting peace and stability to the region.
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