Editor’s Note: Due to the tense situation in the Kivus and the sensitivity of their comments all interviewees have been made anonymous for security concerns.
President Kabila has publicly announced his consideration for arresting the ICC-indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda. North Kivu’s civil society wants to see Kabila turn his statement of good intention into real action without delay. After years of asserting that arresting Ntaganda would be destabilizing for the restive Kivus, Kabila is now insinuating that “justice will contribute to peace.” However, civil society members speaking to Enough in North Kivu doubt that Kabila will follow through.
“There needs to be more pressure to arrest him," a human rights activist told Enough. "The government has the capacity to do so and if not the international community can be asked to assist. If Bosco doesn’t get arrested, that would send a bad example."
At the same time, city residents Enough spoke to argue that it is highly unlikely that Bosco Ntaganda will be given a position in the Congolese military again, especially now that the parallel Amani Leo military structure that Ntaganda once dominated was dissolved by President Kabila last week.
“He will be put in a less visible place,” a civil society member said. Many speculate that Ntaganda will settle down in his farmland in Ngungu, Masisi territory, one of his strongholds where he is currently thought to be hiding. If the erstwhile general gets to retire to Masisi, it is possible that he could restart a rebellion with the CNDP elements that have remained loyal to him as well as with new recruits.
There are also speculations that Rwanda might provide Ntaganda with safe haven as they did with Laurent Nkunda, the leader of what used to be the CNDP rebel group, back in early 2009. Since Rwanda has not signed the Rome Statute, Ntaganda would become untouchable by the ICC. However, it is uncertain whether Rwanda can afford such a move in the light of international pressure to bring Bosco Ntaganda to The Hague. Seen more and more as a liability, it is rumored that Rwanda may make the decision to simply eliminate Ntaganda once and for all.
While we can only speculate what the end result will be for Ntaganda, North Kivu’s civil society has little trust that he will be delivered to justice anytime soon, and local activists reiterated that arresting Bosco Ntaganda will greatly help peace in Congo’s restive East.
Photo: Congolese President Joseph Kabila (AP)