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Tanzania was worried about election results

Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said things were tense in Zimbabwe following the 29 March elections and he had urged his Southern African Development Community counterparts to urge caution before making any statements, once the election outcome was announced.

He said early indications were that Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had a slight lead over Mugabe with Simba Makoni receiving five percent of the vote.

There was therefore likely to be retaliation against Makoni because his break-away from ZANU-PF could have pushed Tsvangirai over the top.

Tanzania was also concerned about a statement by Mugabe that he would hand over the government to the military before he would accept an opposition victory.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08DARESSALAAM206, TANZANIA: MINISTER MEMBE BRIEFS AMBASSADOR GREEN

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08DARESSALAAM206

2008-04-01 19:28

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Dar Es Salaam

VZCZCXRO0452

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHDR #0206/01 0921928

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 011928Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7429

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 3290

RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA PRIORITY 2648

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 3139

RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI PRIORITY 1084

RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA PRIORITY 0255

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0373

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0929

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0282

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DAR ES SALAAM 000206

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/E FOR JKNIGHT, JLIDDLE

AF/RSA FOR MBITTRICK

ADDIS FOR AU MISSION

LONDON, PARIS, BRUSSELS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2018

TAGS: KDEM MOPS PREL PHUM ZI TZ

SUBJECT: TANZANIA: MINISTER MEMBE BRIEFS AMBASSADOR GREEN

ON COMOROS PLANS, ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS

 

REF: STATE 032645

 

Classified By: Ambassador M. Green for reasons 1.4 (b,d).

 

SUMMARY

——–

1. (C) The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International

Cooperation, Bernard Membe, confirmed to Ambassador Green

that the Tanzanian forces that assisted with the invasion of

Anjouan will stay in Comoros through the elections and likely

longer to maintain peace and train Anjouan gendarmes to

prepare for integration into the Comoran army. While

expressing his strong appreciation that the United States

supported the African Union (AU) action to oust Col. Mohamed

Bacar, Minister Membe stated that humanitarian aid will

likely be needed for the Anjouan islanders “who appear to be

in need of many basic necessities.” He described mopping up

operations as going well, with all but 47 militia out of the

350 armed militia who had been protecting Bacar, accounted

for, and over 1,500 weapons turned in. Membe was unable to

respond to Ambassador Green’s request to outline and give a

timeline for how the U.S. can assist from here forward. He

said a high-level meeting would be held between the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Chief of Defense of the

Tanzanian Peoples Defense Force (TPDF) the evening of April 1

to discuss these details, and promised to give the Ambassador

a full report on April 2. Minister Membe did not have

current information on whether or not Tanzania’s two to three

landing craft were already in the Comoros.

 

2. (C) Membe confided that for the past two days, President

Kikwete has been focused on Zimbabwe, reaching out to South

African President Mbeki and to PM Gordon Brown of the United

Kingdom. Membe has spoken to the foreign ministers of South

Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique to discuss that the AU and

SADC should not rush to recognize whatever government may be

installed in Zimbabwe until the facts about election

tabulations are clear. Membe mentioned the possibility of

calling a SADC emergency meeting should the Zimbabwe results

indicate that the election was not fair. The delay in an

announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is

increasing tensions in Harare. He noted that opposition

party members met with the Tanzanian Ambassador in Harare on

March 31 asking him to convey to President Kikwete as the AU

Chairman that the elections were being manipulated and the AU

should intervene. End summary.

 

Comoros

——-

3. (C) Ambassador Green told Minister Membe that the United

States was ready to assist Tanzania in the aftermath of the

Anjouan invasion, but “we need to have clear lines of

communication on a day to day basis.” Membe apologized that

he had not kept the Ambassador fully informed, but events had

moved very quickly. Membe apparently believes that the U.S.

will be able to reimburse Tanzania for some of the cost of

moving assets to Anjouan during the initial March 24-25

operation. Going forward, Membe had understood from his

phone conversation with A/S Jendayi Frazer that the United

States would be able to assist with the large ship that could

transport two to three Tanzanian landing craft. However,

Membe was not able to confirm (even after requesting his

assistant to contact the TPDF directly) whether the landing

craft had already been moved to Comoros or were still in

Tanzania. He said his staff would meet with top TPDF

leadership the evening of April 1, and a full report,

including the logistics needed from the USG, would result

from that meeting.

 

4. (C) Membe recounted that President Kikwete deeply

appreciated the United States’ support and strong leadership

within the P-5 so that the AU’s intended intervention in

Comoros did not have to go to the UN Security Council. He

downplayed the efforts of South Africa to block the invasion,

stating that “now that it has gone well, the South Africans

 

DAR ES SAL 00000206 002 OF 003

 

 

are commending that the exercise was well executed.” In

Anjouan, the Tanzanian, Sudanese and Comoran forces have

taken into custody 278 of the 350 militia who had defended

Bacar Fifteen of the militia had fled to Mayotte with Bacar,

and 9 to 10 others appeared to have perished in a car burning

in one village; 47 remain unaccounted for. He also noted

that a total of 1,562 weapons along with ammunition have been

turned into the Tanzanian, Sudanese and Comoran headquarters

by the Anjouan police and gendarmes without any fatalities.

 

5. (C) According to Membe, the French have moved Bacar to

Reunion “for his own safety” while a Mayotte court considers

Bacar’s asylum request since there have been demonstrations

against him in Mayotte, Anjouan and Moroni. Membe expressed

his frustration at not getting what he believed to be a

straight story from the Government of France (GOF),

recounting several instances including a helicopter crash

near Bacar’s village on Anjouan, and the fact that weapons

found in Bacar’s home had “Embassy of France Moroni” stamped

on them. He also had learned that the Government of Comoros

had put out a warrant for Bacar’s arrest and forwarded it to

the GOF, but his most recent letter from the French “remains

silent about this warrant.” Minister Membe was not sanguine

that the question of “what to do with Bacar will be easily

solved. He noted that even if Bacar went to a country or

territory not under the control of France, extradition laws

could apply.

 

Foreign Ministry not in the logistics loop

——————————————

6. (C) Ambassador Green pressed for details from the

Minister on when and where a ship would be needed to move the

landing craft per the GOT request. The Ambassador explained

that one window of opportunity was open within the next 24

hours; otherwise the operation could not commence until April

12. Membe asked his assistant twice to make a call to the

TPDF and get the information Ambassador Green was requesting,

but the only reply he received was that a meeting would be

held later in the evening. While Membe understood that the

landing craft in question were still in Tanzania, the

Embassy’s Defense Attache Office had heard directly from TPDF

Chief of Operations and Logistics on March 31 that USG

assistance was needed to bring two landing craft back to

Tanzania from Anjouan.

 

7. (C) Membe was clear that the Tanzanians are in Comoros

for the long term, at the very minimum through the elections

that are required by law to held within the next 90 days.

Furthermore, the Tanzanian troops will stay for whatever time

frame is needed to train the Anjouan police and gendarmes and

to assure their integration into the Comoran army. In

response to Ambassador Green’s inquiry, Membe admitted that

Tanzania would likely look to the U.S. for assistance not

only for the short-term movements of the landing craft, but

throughout the period of transition to a better form of

democracy in the Comoros. He believed that the constitution

of Comoros needs to be closely examined to ensure long-term

viability, and noted that the AU Parliament and its advisors

stand ready to assist. “To have a country with three

presidents is just not possible,” he emphasized. Membe also

noted that ballot boxes for the elections are already in

Comoros, but robust support from the international community

is needed for observers, election training, and adequate

training for the police.

 

Comment

——-

8. (C) Clearly, neither Minister Membe not his MFA staff had

been kept fully informed about details of military logistics

in the Anjouan incursion, and thus were unable to answer the

Ambassador’s inquiries. His focus for the last week appears

have been on ascertaining whether the GOT is getting the full

story from the French government concerning its position

toward Bacar. He mentioned that he had spoken to the French

Ambassador nearly every day during the past two weeks, either

 

DAR ES SAL 00000206 003 OF 003

 

 

by phone or in person. It was also clear that Tanzania is

going to be in the Comoros for the long haul; while Membe

mentioned that up to half of the Tanzanian forces could

return home, many will stay until a “stable democracy” is in

place in Anjouan and the Comoros.

 

Zimbabwe

——–

9. (SBU) In response to reftel points, Minister Membe

assured the Ambassador that President Kikwete is closely

monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe, both as the AU Chairman

and from Tanzania’s key position in SADC. Kikwete contacted

President Mbeki, and had spoken on March 31 to PM Gordon

Brown. Membe himself reached out to his SADC counterparts to

urge caution before making any statement, once an election

outcome is announced in Zimbabwe.

 

10. (C) Membe repeated several times that the reports coming

to the GOT indicate that situation in Harare is very tense.

He had heard that Tsvangirai has a slight lead over Robert

Mugabe and that Makoni has received about five percent of the

vote. The GOT is extremely concerned about retaliation

against Makoni since his break-away from the mainstream ZANU

party could be the factor that pushes Tsvangirai over the

top. Also Tanzania is concerned that the longer an

announcement of the presidential winner is delayed, it

increases the possibility of vote tampering as well as

allowing tensions to rise.

 

11. (C) Membe’s best estimate is that the results

announcement would be made at night “since large crowds are

less likely to gather in the darkness.” The GOT is also

concerned with Mugabe’s recent statements that he would hand

the government to the military before he would accept an

opposition victory. However, Membe admitted that there is a

slight chance that Mugabe could concede victory or offer a

position in the government to the opposition candidates.

Ambassador and Minister Membe agreed to keep in close contact

on Zimbabwe as well, and cooperate to protect the human

rights of the candidates as well as of all Zimbabwean

citizens.

GREEN

 

(25 VIEWS)

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