Terminator terminated…

Bosco Ntaganda appears to have “surrendered” to the US embassy of Kigali, Rwanda. One of the most wanted warlords of our days and a prime ICC indictee ends his journey as a commander of various Congolese rebel formations today and has asked to be transferred to the Hague, where most certainly a trial is awaiting him. How could this happen?

First of all, rumours have been widespread and diverging throughout the last days. While Congolese government sources have claimed for three days that he had crossed the border to Rwanda, many credible sources suggested he might continue to hide cloe to Kibumba or trying to reach his home turf of Masisi highlands, where he has two ranches and allegedly some arms caches. Now it turns out that he went to Rwanda, where he managed to go to the US embassy in Kigali, demanding for asylum and his transfer to the ICC.

The last weeks have been marked by the disintegration of the M23 rebel movement in eastern Congo. After longstanding tensions between the Kimbelembele and the Kifuafua factions, the movement split in two parts a few weeks ago. While one side regrouped around the movements military leader Sultani Makenga (incl. Vianney Kazarama, Bertrant Bisimwa and others) a second faction remained loyal to former M23 president Jean-Marie Runiga, who was sacked by Makenga, a well known loyalist to former CNDP boss Laurent Nkunda, whose beef with Bosco Ntaganda is obvious. The Runiga faction allied to Bosco and his cronies, including Baudouin Ngaruye, Seraphin Mirindi, Innocent Zimurinda, and Innocent Kaina. Eventually, Zimurinda was severely injured and is believed to have died, while Kaina went over to Makenga’s camp. After severe defeat on the battlefield, Mirindi, Ngaruye, and Runiga sought refuge in neighbouring Rwanda, their sort is still unclear, given that as combatants and representatives of an armed group their application for refugee status appears to be rather bizarre. No traces of Bosco as this happened. While the DRC was accusing Rwanda to have him accepted on their territory, the latter refuted this accusation. Today, it came out that Bosco had knocked the US embassies door, paving the way for one of the greater Congo scoops of these days.

While the Congolese government sees itself confirmed, Rwanda denies having known of that before. There is plenty of arguments for both versions, as discussions on twitter have shown tonight. Evenly possible is, that M23 Makenga did not know about the story either. The last weeks have brought enough confusion in the region in general. This most recent episode is just another proof thereof.

A few questions now are key:

To which extent did the DRC and Rwanda a) know, b) endorse, and c) welcome what was happening?

Whom did Bosco fear, i.e. what drove him to accept a near future in the Hague?

What consequences for Presidents Kabila and Kagame?

What consequences for notorious Bosco friends, such as Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi?

What about Bosco’s activities after 2003, as ICC warrant only covers until then?

Did he try to break through until Masisi, where there might have been an arms cache allowing him to continue operations?

Did M23 Makenga facilitate his border crossing in order to get rid of him once for all?

What role for the potential threat he might have faced in APCLS and FARDC beyond Virunga parc?

While these questions will need some more serious analysis, it appears that, as of now, the career of one of the world’s most notorious warlords has found an end. However joyful human rights advocates and his victims may be today, it is important to bear in mind that his surrender and potential extradition to the ICC does not mean unrest in eastern Congo will end. It is more important than ever to address root causes and to enhance understanding of the underlying dynamics of the Congolese conflicts. The termination of the terminator is only a small step in that.

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