PRLog (Press Release) - Mar. 19, 2013 - CHICAGO -- Contact: Kitty Kurth
Good Riddance to Ntaganda, Now What?
The surrender of former M23 leader Bosco Ntaganda at the US Embassy in Kigali on Monday is excellent news for justice in the Congo. Ntaganda, who holds the terrible nickname of "the Terminator" for his horrific war crimes in the Congo, is one of the latest in a long line of Rwandans and Rwandan supported rebel leaders fighting for control in the eastern Congo. The fact that he turned himself over to the United States government, requesting a transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he will be tried on numerous charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is both good and significant news. The United States should fulfill this request to be moved to the ICC as soon as possible.
Paul Rusesabagina, President of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (http://www.hrrfoundation.org) said, “Good riddance to General Ntaganda. But the question is what next for the conflict in the Congo? Which rebel leader will Rwanda prop up next - Nkunda, then Ntaganda, then who? How did this bad guy move freely across Rwanda and straight in to the American Embassy in Kigali? The surrender raises as many questions as it answers. Hopefully, the M23 will stop killing innocent people. But, when will Rwanda stop sending killers in to the Congo?”
Past "rebel" leaders supported by Paul Kagame's Rwanda have quietly left the public scene when their actions in Congo became too embarrassing for the Rwandan government. This includes Ntaganda's predecessor, indicted war criminal Laurent Nkunda, who is still under "house arrest" while walking free in Kigali. Rwanda's pattern in the region is well-established by the international community. They support a "rebel" movement, not really rebelling against the Congolese government, but rather seeking control of the eastern Congo to funnel illegal resources to Rwanda. At times however, violence escalates in the Congo to the point where Rwanda is publicly embarrassed by their militias. When this happens, it is not unusual for a militia leader to disappear back across the border into Rwanda until the uproar dies away, and then be quietly replaced with a new leader more complacent to Rwandan government commands, and less embarrassing to the regime there. This is what has been happening over the last few weeks in the Congo, with public infighting among the Rwandan-backed M23 group, leading to Ntaganda and others fleeing back to Rwanda.
In this case though, it seems that something went wrong. The United Nations reported recently that M23 and Ntaganda were taking commands directly from Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe, a charge denied by the Rwandan government. But if Ntaganda turned himself over the UN, and specifically asked to be sent to the ICC, then it seems he has had a falling out with his former commanders.
Rusesabagina continued, “Ntaganda's surrender provides an excellent opportunity for the truth to come out about Rwandan support of M23 and of the overall crisis in the Congo, which has now killed more than seven million people. The United States government must not give in to likely Rwandan requests that Ntaganda be transferred back to them. Rather the war criminal's own request for international justice should be fulfilled. In that way, his trial may be able to bring the truth to light about what is really happening in the Congo, away from the control of governments in the region. This is an opportunity for a major step forward for truth and justice, and it must not be missed.”