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Residents Flee Rebel Soldiers in Eastern DRC

Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. (File Photo)
Indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. (File Photo)

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  • Kambale Musavuli tells Ricci Shryock about recent violence in DRC

Ricci Shryock

Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after fighting erupted between government forces and soldiers loyal to General Bosco Ntaganda.

Kambala Musavuli, a spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, said the current uprising, by rebel forces known as the CNDP, began in March as international pressure mounted against the group’s leader. Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers — a charge he denies.

The ICC arrest warrant was issued in 2006; three years later Ntaganda and his fighters were made part of the Congolese army as part of a peace deal.

“We’re seeing now that people are suffering from that. It was predictable. You don’t integrate a former human rights abuser into the military.  They will continue the human rights abuse,” said Musavuli.

The pressure to arrest Ntaganda increased after another former rebel leader in the DRC, Thomas Lubanga, was convicted by the ICC of war crimes in March.  Like Ntaganda, Lubanga was also accused of recruiting child soldiers.  After the verdict, Musavuli explained, President Joseph Kabila said he would arrest Ntganda, but the president said the Rwandan national would be tried in the DRC rather than at the ICC.

“As you put the pressure little by little, we see actions on the ground,” he added. “Kabila made a statement that Basco will be arrested, but he’s been shying away from being strong on the statement.”

According to Musavuli, the Congolese justice institutions are not adequate to try Ntaganda, and he should go to the ICC.

“We must bring these rebel leaders to justice so that they don’t continue to repeat these crimes,” he said. “There needs to be an end to the culture of impunity.”

But Musavuli also stressed that simply arresting Ntaganda would not put an end to the ongoing violence in the DRC. “We are arresting drug dealers, before arresting kingpins,” he said. Musavuli said in this case, the problem will not be solved unless the DRC addresses tensions with the governments of neighboring countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda, which he says have provided support to these rebel leaders in the past.

“If the political problem that exists in the Congo between Rwanda and the Congo is not solved, we will have another rebel leader.”

He likened the situation to crimes Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor was recently convicted of by the United Nations-supported Special Court for Sierra Leone.  The former Liberian leader was found guilty of “aiding and abetting” war crimes in Sierra Leone.

“He is not from Sierra Leone, but he was tried for crimes he committed in Sierra Leone, and this is the same case with Basco Ntaganda,” said Musavuli, since Ntaganda is Rwandan and his crimes were allegedly supported by some in Rwanda.

Musavuli added that he thinks international criminal bodies such as the ICC also need to widen their scope: “I’m also in agreement with the many people who do believe that there needs to be a shift in cases at the ICC where we don’t just see Africans…We know crimes are taking place around the world.”

Though the ICC has received complaints about alleged crimes in more than 130 countries, the court’s prosecutor has opened official investigations into seven situations – all in African countries.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Reco
May 02, 2012 12:27 PM
Guys it means there is no different between Congo and Rwanda? People who have Rwanda's nationality become a general in Congo. It is not only in congo but in different places in Africa. Why people who do not have really nationality become governors, President , and other places. It means we do not have some people who have the original nationality in congo? What is the Important of the UA,and other countries who are in charge of helping Africa?

by: pascal Kalenga
May 02, 2012 8:35 AM
Kabila is playing a game with tanganda and europeen poeples ,but the main solution will be coming soon ,we have to fight until to make him run in his own country

by: Johnson M.
May 01, 2012 11:57 AM
the silence and hipocrisy in the situation of the DRC; the failure of defending the people of the eastern of congo by his president and the support of the rwandan president and the ugandian president is behond of any understanding.
it's business as usual in DRC...attrocities, exploitatio, and loss of human being. we all know the problem but who cares.

by: dave j
April 30, 2012 8:10 PM
job for 5 commando perhaps?

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