|RDC: Gen. Ntaganda is only a pawn in a wider game.|
When strangers wail louder than the bereaved, you must be on your guard. Something is not quite right. They are hiding something, probably some involvement in the cause of the bereavement. Or they are plotting something sinister against the grieving people or their neighbours.
They want the head of one Bosco Ntaganda, and more, as we shall see shortly. The Congolese general must be delivered to the ICC in The Hague to answer charges that he recruited child soldiers in his earlier life as a rebel.
You can understand part of the reason for their eagerness. They got Thomas Lubanga, another former Congolese rebel, had him tried at the Hague-based ICC and got him convicted of war crimes, including using child soldiers. They have smelt blood and, like hounds, are bounding along what they think is a strong trail.
When examined closely, the real issue is not the culpability or otherwise of Lubanga or Ntaganda. Both men may have some unsavoury characteristics. They probably have committed crimes in wars that otherwise have some justification. But those are not the reasons they have been hunted. Nor is it justice for the victims.
The selective indictments in a region of the DRC where there are perhaps more armed groups than civilians brings into question many things.
First, why is Eastern Congo so volatile and when did it earn that unenviable reputation? The simple answer is that it has been like that for a long time. However, the region became very unstable when the ex-FAR and Interahamwe fled there from Rwanda with their weapons, organisation and genocide ideology. They were allowed and facilitated to create a political and military organisation that carried out attacks on Congolese civilians and against Rwanda.
These two groups have since transformed themselves into the FDLR and various other smaller groups.
Now, everyone knows of the atrocities the FDLR has committed against the Congolese people. About one year ago, hundreds of women were raped under the very noses of United Nations Peace keepers. Yet we have not heard loud calls for the arrest and trial of the mass rapists and perpetrators of other crimes in Congolese courts, let alone the ICC.
Surely Ntaganda’s supposed guilt is not greater than that of Sylvester Mudacumura, the FDLR commander, or even the Congolese government. It is probably less – because, whatever his crimes, they are not rooted in a vow to exterminate an entire people.
But for some inexplicable reasons, there is complete silence about Mudacumura.
A possible explanation for this is that some of the individuals, organisations and even governments responsible for the mess in the DRC and the wider Great Lakes Region don’t want the extent of their involvement revealed, which the trial of any FDLR leader might well do.
The second reason for selective indictment has to do with the history of Congo. Eastern Congo, as indeed the rest of the country, has really never been stable from the time the country got its independence in 1960.
Intermittent wars fought by various rebel or secessionist groups, and mercenary outfits, especially in the 1960s, left their mark on the region. And responsibility for the legacy of violence and instability rests, not with Ntaganda and Lubanga, but with some world powers and international commercial interests.
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