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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON2117 2009-09-11 08:08 2011-02-04 21:09 SECRET Embassy London

DE RUEHLO #2117/01 2540832
P 110832Z SEP 09
S E C R E T LONDON 002117 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2019 
REF: A. LONDON 1889      B. LONDON 1669  Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville, reasons 1.4 (b/d).  

1. (C) Summary:  UK Government officials, including FCO Africa Director Adam Wood, East Africa and Great Lakes Department deputy head Graham Zebedee, Great Lakes team leader Nne-Nne Iwuji-Eme, and DFID Senior Political Analyst Nick Bates, welcomed SE Wolpe's appointment and the USG's reinvigorated coordination with partners on Africa's Great Lakes region.  Although Wood indicated the UK will not be appointing a Special Envoy, he underscored the importance of a regional approach.  UK Government officials offered their political analysis of the region, discussing the pros and cons of local elections in the DRC, the need to deal with the LRA, the importance of economic integration, the UK's new DRC strategy review, making the most of the Contact Group in October, tackling the FDLR, and curbing sexual and gender-based violence.  The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes convened representatives of London-based international NGOs (including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Crisis Action, IRC, Global Witness, War Child, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, World Vision, Tearfund, International Alert, and Invisible Children) who welcomed the appointment of a Special Envoy and appreciated SE Wolpe's early outreach to the NGO community.  End summary.  

Wood: Welcomes Coordination, Indicates No UK Special Envoy, and Discusses Dealing with the LRA --------------------------------------------- --------------  

2. (S) SE Wolpe met with a wide range of UK Government officials and NGOs during a September 7-8 visit to London, all of whom welcomed the USG's prioritization of the Great Lakes region and SE Wolpe's appointment.  Foreign Office (FCO) Africa Director Adam Wood highlighted the UK Government's desire to coordinate closely on the Great Lakes and consolidate peace.  Wood explained that he was disinclined to appoint a Special Envoy for the region because of the "risk of undercutting" UK ambassadors there.  He noted that a byproduct of the Rwanda-DRC rapprochement had been better coordination amongst UK ambassadors in the region and said that regular video-conferences with them has helped UK policy be "more joined up and based on a shared analysis." He underscored the importance of a regional approach to dealing with the various issues in the Great Lakes.  Wood said reviewing MONUC's mandate is important.  He questioned MONUC's current configuration and said its capabilities should be reviewed, especially regarding a possible need for special forces.  He also said it was difficult for the international community to maintain such a large force.  On dealing with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Wood said he "still sees the best solution as a U.S. special forces' operation," though he acknowledged the difficulty posed by such action, including locating the top leadership.  He said any solution would have to include coordinated reconciliation efforts in Northern Uganda.  

Sharing Analysis on the Region ------------------------------  

3. (C) FCO Great Lakes and East Africa Department deputy head Graham Zebedee and Great Lakes team leader Nne-Nne Iwuji-Eme led an inter-agency roundtable discussion which included participation from the Ministry of Defense (MOD), the Department for International Development (DFID), Cabinet Office, FCO Conflict Group, and FCO Strategy Unit.  Zebedee said the UK shared the USG's optimism in Burundi; EU Chiefs of Mission in Burundi were working on a strategy document in the run-up to the elections.  He noted the importance of the Group of Friends of the Elections in elections preparations and highlighted the international community's recent effective engagement with the Parliament to ensure the electoral code dispute is resolved.  He noted several issues that need to be worked out: sequencing of the elections (presidential, parliamentary, and then local?), the final form of the ballot papers, and the amount of the candidates' deposits.  

DRC Elections -------------  

4. (C) On the DRC elections, UK officials agreed with the assessment that the presidential elections could be largely a non-event if President Kabila is able to shore up support from opposition political figures like Vital Kamehre, though it would mean the elections do not provide what could be a good "democratic check" on Kabila.  In the unlikely event of Jean-Pierre Bemba's return, the elections could potentially  be contentious and destabilizing.  The UK has not spent much time considering this eventuality, as they assess it to be unlikely.  Zebedee acknowledged that some see negative democracy trend lines in the DRC, but indicated that the UK Government does not/not share that assessment.  "If things are headed downward, it's not that drastically."  He asserted that Kabila does not have the machinery in place to be too repressive.  Zebedee said that while there are "plenty of pros and cons to holding the local elections," the pros "slightly outweigh the cons."  He indicated that the UK sees decentralization as "held hostage" by the local elections and noted the support the UK is providing to the electoral process.  He offered, without committing to the position, that holding the presidential and local elections at the same time would be more cost effective and would require "only one big elections push" from MONUC.  

LRA ---  

5. (C) On the LRA, Zebedee offered that it would likely take a prohibitive increase in MONUC's size to make a difference. The international community instead should consider MONUC's capability rather than its size.  MONUC, for example, might be more effectively engaged in DDRRR rather than on military action, which would remove some of the political issues of DDRRR program implementation caused by the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF).  However, MONUC would need additional resources.  Also, there needs to be better information sharing with MONUC.  While the current military operation against the LRA is not succeeding, it is putting pressure on the LRA and limiting its area of operation.  Iwuji-Eme noted that reconciliation efforts in Northern Uganda are still needed, and that the UK has funding teed up to support those efforts.  "The ball is currently in the Ugandans' court," she said, "but nothing will happen until (President) Museveni decides it works politically for him."  She also offered the assessment that it would be important to deal with the LRA before the elections and referendum in Sudan, lest Kony and the LRA become a proxy for Khartoum's aggression against South Sudan.  

Economic Integration Is The Way Forward ---------------------------------------  

6. (C) Zebedee highlighted the UK's view that economic integration is the best way to "entrench diplomatic rapprochement."  Initiatives like Trading-for-Peace, which seek to make legal trade easier in the region and improve mineral regulation, will enable the entire region to benefit.  Iwuji-Eme said that the natural flow of trade from eastern DRC is toward the East, which creates trust issues with Kinshasa.  Assisting in the development of a north-south trade corridor will help resolve some of these issues.  In addition, working with political leaders in the region to enable them to see the "political power generation that comes from trade" is crucial.  Given the number of elections in the region in the near future, developing trade programs could provide some programming that would be seen as post-election quick-wins, which would incentivize for political leaders improvement of trade relations.  Referring to the work of the Contact Group's Mineral Trade Task Force, Iwuji-Eme said the task force's work is important to countering the recent NGO messaging that mineral trade in the region should be sanctioned because it funds militias in the area and to provide solutions that build on the positive impact of the trade on the region and curb the benefit to militias.  She said the UK has approached the French about making the theme of their proposed DRC conference regional economic integration.  

The UK's New Strategy Review on the DRC ---------------------------------------  

7. (C) FCO Strategy Unit Director Cat Tully outlined the FCO's recently completed DRC strategy document (reported on in detail in reftel A).  Tully said the policy review suggested four focused areas of work: tackling the FDLR (in country and in Diaspora communities), supporting the DRC's army, integrating regional trade and cleaning up mineral trade, and driving accountability forward in DRC governance institutions.  These four areas of work would be best taken forward through coordination with the USG and with France, which would increase impact without significant resource increase and would allow for a more coordinated, strategic approach in the UN and in the DRC.  

The Contact Group Meeting in October -----------------------------------  

8. (C) In a separate working lunch, Zebedee expressed the FCO's desire to provide input into the Contact Group meeting's agenda and for the group's work to be "action-oriented."  He suggested the group needs "tight chairmanship."  He expressed disappointment in the "SSR Day" before the last Contact Group meeting, as it resulted in no action.  He suggested fewer agenda items, with paper to consider beforehand, may result in more productive discussions.  Iwuji-Eme noted that the Government of DRC had not released its SSR paper yet, though it has published its paper on stabilization of the East.  If the SSR paper is not available before the Contact Group meeting, one possible action item may be a concerted message from the international community to push for its release.  Another issue to address is how to engage the DRC Government after Contact Group meetings, as previously there has been no formal dialogue.  

FDLR ----  

9. (C) On tackling the FDLR, Zebedee said there had "not been enough return on investment in SSR."  He agreed that a more politically savvy strategy was necessary to target the FDLR, which focuses on economic support to the movement from abroad, reducing the territory where the FDLR operates, and has a stronger DDR component.  He agreed that the Government of Rwanda should share its list of genocidaires as a good faith effort to continue the DRC-Rwanda rapprochement.  It is important for Rwanda to communicate that it is looking for 250-300 genocidaires, not 6,000.  

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence --------------------------------  

10. (C) Zebedee said the UK sees sexual and gender-based violence as "a symptom of the conflict and the lack of discipline in the military."  The fast way to deal with it is to deal with the "FRDC's excesses and with illegal militia groups."  He noted that many countries had tried to do various projects but that no concerted effort had been undertaken by the international community to deal with this issue.  He suggested an initial mapping exercise of programming would be helpful.  

Economics in East -----------------  

11. (C) In a separate meeting, DFID Senior Political Analyst Nick Bates said that getting the economics right would be of huge benefit to the stability in eastern DRC and the region as a whole.  He explained that the Trading-for-Peace program, the details of which he agreed to pass to SE Wolpe, offered an approach that would deal with the infrastructure, economic integration, and the various overlapping regional economic associations.  He said that making a common trading union that integrated the various arrangements between the EAC, COMESA, and SADC would simplify and expedite trade greatly. He said the USG could play a helpful role through political engagement with the regional players to highlight the importance of economic integration in the region: "Rapprochement is the fundamental issue for all of us to work on."  The major inhibitors to growth in the east are insecurity, lack of energy, and lack of transport infrastructure.  Bates also said it was important for the international community to counter certain NGOs' rhetoric about stopping mineral trade in the region by offering workable solutions that address the underlying problems and also continue economic development.  

NGO Roundtable --------------  

12. (U) Convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes, representatives of London-based international NGOs (including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Crisis Action, IRC, Global Witness, War Child, Amnesty International Human Rights Watch, World Vision, Tearfund, International Alert, and Invisible Children) welcomed the appointment of a Special Envoy and appreciated SE Wolpe's early outreach to the NGO community.  They highlighted the need for a bottom-up approach to complement top-down political initiatives, especially in DDR and SSR.  They welcomed the attention to sexual and gender-based violence and suggested that a comprehensive approach to children's issues is needed.  They raised dealing with the FDLR and the LRA as a priority to consolidating peace and ensuring stability.  They also said addressing the economic drivers of the conflict, particularly through stemming illegal mineral trade, would support stability efforts.  Additionally, they said strengthening governance institutions, especially in the run-up to various  elections in the region, was critical.  

13. (U) SE Wolpe cleared this cable.  Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX