The leadership crisis among rebels loyal to Democratic Republic of Congo renegade General Laurent Nkunda took a dramatic turn after the splinter announced a meeting with the media today (Thursday) to unveil a committee to manage the rebel group. The leader of the splinter rebel group of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) said the committee to be unveiled Thursday would ensure that Nkunda's mismanagement and poor leadership would be dealt with. Bosco Ntanganda, who was Nkunda's chief of staff, recently said he was taking charge of the rebel group, effectively dismissing the rebel leader. But the rebels loyal to Nkunda have rejected Ntaganda's claim, describing it as a mutiny which should be punished. Congo journalist Julius Musafari tells reporter Peter Clottey that there is concern among residents in the restive North Kivu area about the split in the rebel group.
"Today, we also got the information that Bosco Ntaganda is going to present to journalists his new team of cadres of CNDP. This is what he said," Musafari said.
He described the frosty relations between General Nkunda and his former chief of staff Bosco Ntaganda as a cold war.
"In fact, we also heard about it, and it was like a cold war between Bosco Ntaganda and Nkunda. But afterwards, it came to be known that Bosco Ntanganda as the chief of staff of CNDP army has taken the decision to remove Nkunda. And as for today, he reported that he was going to introduce his new team, which simply means that Nkunda is no longer the head of the CNDP according to Bosco Ntanganda. This is what I can tell you," he said.
Musafari said President Joseph Kabila's government is secretly enjoying the leadership crisis in the rebel movement.
"That is true, and in fact there is a saying that two heads are better than one. In unity is always strength. So when you look at it as the CNDP has broken into two sides, this means that the rebel group can be significantly weakened," Musafari said.
He said North Kivu residents are troubled by the leadership crisis in the rebel ranks, fearing there would be another rebel group to contend with during clashes with the national army.
"We the locals are not happy with what is going on because we are going to be adversely affected by these rebels going around and hurting people. So we are not too pleased with what is going on at all," he said.
Musafari said the leader of the splinter group has said he does not recognize the negotiating team appointed by Nkunda to continue holding negotiations with the government with the "I think as of now, those people have been sent there by Nkunda, but Bosco Ntaganda said that he does not recognize them. And this has created fear among the locals here. So we are urging the government to do its utmost best to bring back peace to this part of the country either by Bosco Ntanganda or Nkunda," Musafari noted.
He said Nkunda has so far failed to live up to his promise of punishing Ntaganda for forming a splinter group.
"We the locals are actually disappointed because this was our expectation. It has been almost a week and a half since Laurent Nkunda announced he would punish the leader of the splinter group. But what we can see is that Bosco Ntanganda has also got forces behind him and that Nkunda may be finding himself in a position that is making him unable to punish Bosco Ntanganda or to disarm him," he said.