News / Africa

Warlord's Surrender Could Herald New Chapter For Congo

Congolese M23 rebels carry goods in the back of a truck near the Congo-Uganda border town of Bunagana, DRC, December 5, 2012.
Congolese M23 rebels carry goods in the back of a truck near the Congo-Uganda border town of Bunagana, DRC, December 5, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
Accused Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda walked into the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda's capital on Monday and asked to be sent to the International Criminal Court.  Despite facing charges of crimes against humanity, Ntaganda apparently assumed he would be safer in The Hague than on the battlefield of eastern Congo.
 
By turning himself in to U.S. diplomats in Kigali, Ntaganda has essentially retired from a career as a rebel soldier-turned-general in eastern Congo.
 
The exact circumstances of why he chose to surrender and why he went to the U.S. Embassy are uncertain.  But during the past few weeks, his faction of the M23 militant group had been defeated in fighting with soldiers under rival commander Sultani Makenga.
 
Ntaganda is now running for his life, said International Crisis Group central Africa director Thierry Vircoulon.
 
“So I think really what happened yesterday was the move of a man who had no other option left," he said.
 
Ntaganda had evaded an ICC arrest warrant for war crimes committed during an armed rebellion in eastern Congo in the early 2000s, including murder, rape and sexual slavery.
 
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, July 10, 2012.Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, July 10, 2012.
x
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, July 10, 2012.
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, July 10, 2012.
His alleged co-conspirator, Thomas Lubanga, has been tried and convicted by the ICC and sentenced to 14 years in prison for the forced conscription of child soldiers, a charge Ntaganda is also facing.
 
If Ntaganda is brought to trial, it could have a significant impact on the region, said Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Carina Tertsakian.
 
“Bosco Ntaganda himself has been responsible for some of the worst crimes and abuses committed in Congo for more than 10 years now, so it would be hugely significant in that respect, that one of the worst war criminals would finally be made to face justice,” she said.
 
Tertsakian notes that Ntaganda is not the only rebel leader carrying out abuses in Congo, and that if he does face justice it could serve as a deterrent to the others.
 
Human Rights Watch and U.N. researchers have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebellion, and of harboring Ntaganda, a charge Rwanda strongly denies. The U.S. State Department says the embassy in Kigali is consulting with Rwanda to arrange Ntaganda’s transfer to The Hague.
 
Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said in an interview with VOA that government will allow the law to take its course.
 
“There is, as far as we are concerned, no legal impediments, no legal issues that would require any special facilitation from the Rwandan government, other than providing what you would call safe passage,” Karugarama said.
 
As for what happens next in the Congo, analysts expect Ntaganda’s absence could make room for a peace deal with the remaining M23 fighters, who defected from the Congolese army last year. It will be easier politically for Kinshasa to negotiate with M23 commander Makenga, Vicroulon said.
 
“Now the Congolese government is going to be able to sign a peace deal with a leader that is, let’s say, less embarrassing than Bosco Ntaganda," he said. "I would not say more legitimate of course.”
 
The Congolese government had refused to arrest Ntaganda in the past, insisting his influence was essential to ensuring a peace deal.  But Kinshasa has since changed its position and now says it welcomes the surrender of the former general. 
 
DRC spokesman Lambert Mende told VOA’s English to Africa service Monday that Ntaganda being brought to trial would be a “very big achievement” for the peace process.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Benjamin Likute Mauma from: South Africa / Cape Town
March 23, 2013 9:03 AM
The congolese people welcome the surrender et transfer of the Rwandese war lord Bosco Ntanganda. We hope strongly that this is the beginning of a peace process for our country.
However we wonder why a congolese tribe (Tutsi) need their own police force to protect them? Does this means that every tribe should have it own police force?

Benjamin Likute Bauma
South Africa / Cape Town

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs