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Hunting Bosco Ntaganda, the new Joseph Kony

By Konye Obaji Ori
Posted on Tuesday, 5 June 2012 12:46

While Uganda rebel leader Joseph Kony has gained international recognition as war criminal number-one, Renegade General Bosco Ntaganda, a.k.a “Terminator” is quietly going about his murderous business.

The Rwandan military has been accused of aiding rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing the rebellion with trainees, weapons and ammunition. But the Rwandan government denies any involvement in a mutiny perpetrated by Gen. Bosco’s men in April although he is reported to be sheltered in that country. He has also been spotted with an army official in Rwanda.

The reports were initially made by United States based Human Rights Watch and later buttressed by a BBC report that revealed an internal United Nations report.

“The role played by some Rwandan military officials in supporting and harbouring an ICC war crimes suspect can’t just be swept under the rug,” HRW’s senior Africa researcher, Anneke Van Woudenberg told reporters. “Rwanda should immediately stop all support to Ntaganda and assist in his arrest.”

Rwanda has also twice been reported as having invaded DR Congo, in an attempt to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo. However, the claims have been described as “simplistic, irresponsible and dangerous” by Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

But analysts argue that aiding rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and seeking to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo appear to be two parralels.

In 1994, more than a million ethnic Hutus fled across the border into DR Congo following the Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered.

According to HRW, Gen Bosco, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, has recruited over 150 young men and boys in the past month in the east of the DR Congo. Children who have escaped from Gen. Bosco say there were taken at gunpoint from schools and villages.

“They told us we would fight for Bosco. They informed us that we would liberate our country by giving our support to Bosco Ntaganda,” a 17-year-old student told HRW in May 2012. The 17-year old was one of 30 students who were rounded up from a school near the village of Kingi, in Masisi district. According to first-hand accounts, their hands were tied and they were marched up a hill.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC has since added counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the murder and rape of civilians, to Gen. Bosco’s arrest warrant.

More than Kony

Kony, who by virtue of his murderous rampage across the region has become war-criminal number-one, thanks in part to a viral Kony 2012 video by Invisible Children, commands a militia of about 50 fighters and pales in caparison to Gen Bosco’s 600 strong army.

Gen Bosco’s CNDP fighters were integrated into the Congolese national army in 2009 as part of a peace deal, but rebelled against the government in April. CNDP fighters joined a new movement known as M23, and over the weekend, the political wing of CNDP pulled out of a political alliance with Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

The M23 soldiers are reported to be holed up on three hills close to the Rwandan border bolstering the internal United Nations report that the rebellion was being supported by neighboring Rwanda.

The internal UN report, broadcasted by the BBC cited defecting soldiers who said they had been trained in Rwanda under the pretext of joining the army, before being sent over the border to fight. HRW had earlier on said that the Rwandan military was directly involved in providing the rebels with between 200 and 300 men. Rwandan officers also gave rebels heavy weapons and ammunition to carry to the Congolese positions of the M23 rebels.

Bosco’s war crimes followed a mutiny from the Congolese troops loyal to him. And the rebels who carried out the 2008 Kiwanji massacre and have so far forced at least 45,000 people to flee their homes as a result of the fighting, including across the border into Rwanda, have clashed with the army in eastern Congo.

Attacks by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, on the other hand, have over the time displaced or made refugees of 440,000 people in Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan, the U.N. agency said.

But Gen Bosco is proving to be one war-criminal worthy of the world’s attention and analysts predict that whilst Kony’s capture is imperative, the international community must prepare for a more powerful war criminal who is committing murders, persecution based on ethnic grounds, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging.

In the meantime, as international forces hunt for Kony in the forests of the Central African Republic, Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a move can be made on Gen Bosco who is believed to be hiding in DR Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to mountain gorillas.

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