Friday, May 18, 2012

The Terminator: Deal Or No Deal

Bosco Ntaganda, his arrest came up in a Congo debate at CFR october 18th 2010, was a high ranking RPF officer alongside James Kabarebe at the head of the AFDL that captured Kinshasa in 1997. Choosing the title 'The Terminator' and the creation of the ridiculous 'Laurent Nkunda' character betrays his submersion into Kinshasa's popular culture. How cynical that his former close colleague James Kabarebe was allegedly present at a meeting in late april 2012 to plan a (failed) assassination attempt to 'solve' Kabila's PR problem.

April 22 2006, two days after the first round of the first DRC presidential elections, the ICC released an arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda 'The Terminator' for crimes committed between 2002 and 2003. In January 2005, Bosco Ntaganda was appointed a general in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a peace process, but he refused the offer. On November 27 2006, the DRC Supreme Court confirmed that Kabila had won the 29 october 2006 Presidential elections. Bosco Ntaganda's CNDP was established in december 2006.

Before 2007, the CNDP had two brigades while mixage created five mixed brigades. While numbers are disputed, CNDP's two original brigades (the 81st and the 83rd) numbered about 2,200 men but by May 2007 some 8,000 to 8,500. Antoinette Kankindi, who works at Strathmore in Kenya, started her pro-CNDP blog in 2008 with the name 'Mushaki Pager' referring to the location of the CNDP headquarters. She chose this name because of the victory of CNDP forces against the FARDC in Mushaki in december 2007.

May 5th 2012 the FARDC recaptured Mushaki. Thierry Vircoulon (ICG) claims (13-05-2012) that the treaty march 23 2009 that ended the war between CNDP and the national Congolese government has not been respected. He claims that therefore 'the CNDP has a point'. The treaty says that the CNDP should transform itself into a political party, but does it say how much power the CNDP political party should have? I'm not convinced Thierry Vircoulon is correct and that the CNDP has a point here. The apparent existence of the CNDP as a separate military command structure is in itself a breach of the march 23 2009 treaty. Let alone the rape of women, assassination of critics and recruting of child soldiers.

The only reason that there was a deal in the first place, was the hard evidence of Paul Kagame's direct involvement in the killing fields in Kivu. That PR disaster led to the freezing of budgetsupport by the Dutch government. That PR disaster led subsequently to the march 23 2009 treaty, nothing else!! The only reason behind the joint operation against the FDLR was to help Paul Kagame (and possibly his US and UK friends) to save face! MONUC Commander Patrick Caemert explained this very clearly november 16th 2008:
"The problems have to be solved politically. That is true also concerning the genocidal hutus. President Kagame is strongly (involved) in that. The president of Rwanda sees the genocide-hutus as a threat to his country, I don't agree with that, I don't think that those genocide-hutus represent a threat to his country at all. However, that is what he says."
At a huge price Kabila helped solve Kagame's PR problem (and the pr problem of his western apologists and friends) in 2009 (which was created by Kagame in the first place).

In the context of the Kony2012 campaign and the Lubanga ruling it's obvious that Kabila now thinks it's time Kagame (and his friends) help him solve his PR problem. Even Colette Braeckman understands that this time Kagame does not hold any cards. PR-wise the only 'good' outcome for Kabila will be the surrender of 'The Terminator'. Even the suspicion of secret negotiations with Rwanda hurts the Congolese government. Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the BBC yesterday that DR Congo and Rwanda both now believed that Gen Ntaganda should be arrested.

The UN is clearly pushing for his arrest AND transfer to The Hague. Everybody knows Bosco Ntaganda is a Rwandan and has ties to Kagame's RPF, that's no news (allthough some Congolese websites want to make us believe it is). It doesn't make transfer to Rwanda acceptable to the ICC in  my perception. It neither is a good PR solution for Kabila to negotiate a transfer to Rwanda.
Kabila is clearly out to win this PR game and regain the credibility he lost in 2009, which means: NO DEAL.

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