Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

As talks continue in Goma, the fate of Bosco is in the balance

After a series of meetings involving the Congolese government, Rwandan officials and ex-CNDP soldiers, there is still no clear idea of what compromise will be struck to end the stand-off between Bosco Ntaganda and Kinshasa. At least it seems that both sides have decided for the time being to talk their differences out instead of fighting.

While the results of the talks are still a matter of speculation, some information is seeping out.

The negotiations began in serious on Sunday, when Congolese government officials - represented by Kalev Mutond, the head of national intelligence - met with Rwandan counterparts in Gisenyi. The Rwandans were reportedly represented by their army leadership, including Gen. James Kabarebe (Minister of Defense) and Gen. Charles Kayonga (Chief of Staff of Armed Forces). They reportedly discussed the implementation of the March 2009 agreement, which had led to the integration of the CNDP and other armed groups.

Then, on Monday, the Congolese delegation was bolstered by the head of the land forces, Gen. Amisi, the head of Amani Leo operations, Gen. Amuli, as well as President Kabila himself. Talks continued late into the night at Cap Kivu hotel on the lake.

After reports of his disappearance from town, Gen. Bosco turned up again in Goma. Contrary to what was reported here previously, several reports from people close to the CNDP suggest that he had fled into Rwanda. 

From what information has leaked, it seems that Bosco will emerge weakened from this confrontation, if perhaps not in handcuffs. According to one version, his ally Col. Baudouin Ngaruye will switch positions with ex-CNDP Col. Innocent Kabundi, the former leaving the command of Bosco's Masisi stronghold and going to Kamituga in South Kivu. This would undermine Bosco's control over the central Masisi highlands, his traditional bastion.

Others suggest that Bosco will be forced to step down from his Amani Leo command position and retreat to Masisi, while someone else (Col. Sultani Makenga's name is often cited, although Kabila may like to see Col. Innocent Gahizi play this role) would take control of the ex-CNDP troops in the Congo.

No one has suggested that the strength of the ex-CNDP itself will be seriously questioned, although its allied ex-PARECO networks may fray. The Hutu armed group, from which many officers also defected in the last weeks, has seen at least one of its leading officers, Col. Kifaru, badly wounded in the fighting, and others surrender.

Meanwhile, the situation in South Kivu appears to have been brought more or less under control. At the beginning of the altercations, several leading army officers close to Bosco had defected, including Col. Bernard Byamungu (ex-CNDP), Col. Saddam Edmond (ex-PARECO) and Col. Nsabimana (ex-PARECO), along with 400-500 troops. Most of those troops have now rejoined the army, leaving those officers with just under a hundred troops in the high plateau overlooking the Rusizi Plain.

To the north of Goma, the ex-CNDP officers who had seized the border town of Bunagana over the weekend, were forced to flee into Uganda due to pressure from the Congolese (and some say Rwandan) army. Led by Col. Innocent Kaina, several officers were reportedly apprehended by the Ugandan security forces.

The logic of the 2009 peace deal seems to be holding for now. In other words, as long as the Congolese and Rwandan government can come to an agreement on the Kivus, the ex-CNDP forces will remain semi-integrated in the army. However, what the terms and form of this integration are, and whether Bosco will remain part of it, is yet to be seen.


rutshuru man said...

jason, just a small correction. media has been continously stating that bunagana was "captured" by the defectors under Kaina. Actually the fleeing defectors under him accidentally ran into an FARDC patrol which thereafter resulted in a firefight in and around the town,causing the civilians to flee to the ugandan no point was the town used as a strong point by the defectors wherein they would have needed eviction.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jason,
My name is Adrian Goodliffe and I work for Geneva Call. We engage Armed Non State Actors on respecting humanitarian norms. We are planning an assessment mission to Goma and Bukavu. Would it be possible to discuss the situation with you?
Thank you. Here is my address

Anand said...

First off, I am glad that the situation in South Kivu seems to have calmed down. It will be telling to see how this situation plays out. Depending on how Bosco is handled, we will see how much "progress" is being made regarding security in the Kivus, regarding impunity, and regarding the intentions of the political elite. If Bosco is allowed to remain in the field, even in a diminished role, or if he goes under "house" arrest, this will send a strong signal that neither Kinshasa, nor Kigali are truly serious about dealing with crimes against humanity or about security. Thanks for the updates, Jason.

Rich said...

Jason -

This is the last one I got from a friend who is in Goma. I must admit that I need to double check with other sources...

However, it all sounds like ex-cndp influence and indeed rwanda in DRC affairs is taking a hard knock and bosco will probably be the first fuse to blow...




blaise said...

@ Anand
I think for Kinshasa, arresting Bosco is more an opportunity to rein in the CNDP than a quest for justice. I'm not familiar with T. Lubanga's trial but from what I understood, he was mainly convicted for using child soldiers. If it's the case, what's the difference between him and Jk? The AFDL used child soldiers as well (Kadogos), LDK even had them as his bodyguards. A lot of them died in Kenge. So arresting Bosco for that will be hypocritical from Kinshasa.
How about Kigali? We don't have to present them. They are frequent abusers of human rights. For them, arresting bosco is more a PR operation then anything else.

Anonymous said...

thanks, as always, for these updates, jason. i can only imagine how hard it is for you, or journalists, to corroborate and confirm all the info that's flying out there.

i guess for me i'm still of the opinion that both kinshasa and kigali are being pressed, rather hard, to bring bosco to justice and some measure of finality to the anarchy in the east. i'm also of the opinion that those doing the "pressing" have long been aware that bosco and others are proxies and that the leadership in kinshasa and kigali are, ultimately, responsible and implicated for crimes against civilians, the mineral rackets, etc.

given all this, i'm very curious as to what the end game here is? and by this i mean what is the carrot and the stick being dangled by the West to Kinshasa and Kigali?

i've been thinking about this alot and, given this is pure speculation (as is all of our efforts), i'm honestly not sure.

if the faustian bargain is "get Bosco, reform CENI, assist with LRA, and you get the IMF money so you can start paying China and funds for provincial elections" then atleast we begin to move the needle in Congo to a better, more democratic, place. the west is perfectly aware kabila and kagame are to depart from the scene in a few years so such a bargain is likely premised on that reality.

but this kinda assumes the west, well, has such a long game strategy in mind. its not that I don't think that's possible, but that is truly the ideal given all the failures of diplomacy we've seen from world capitals to this point.

but am i being cynical?

i dunno.

i am fairly surprised by the swiftness of all of this since you and others began reporting. the one thing that is VERY CLEAR is the West is demanding the "east"- with all that this means- is brought to some measure of finality.

could this increase in seriousness (if one could call it that) portend more engagement to come?

if so, how could the opposition gain from this apparent change in seriousness?

sorry Siassa community if this seems all over the place but i did want to pull out that something very real is happening here, a kind of subtext, that we shouldn't ignore and that could, perhaps, be a long term "good" for the Congo.

i know we are all concerned with civilians being caught up in the midst of this "shakeout". but, i do believe its important to focus on the macro here and, where we can, try to game out what's going on in DC, Brussels, etc.

honestly, these are the moments where I wish I was in the press pool at White House Briefings so I could ask something like:

"Mr Carney: What is the ulimate goal of arresting Bosco? As you are aware, his main patron is Rwanda's Kagame- an ally of ours- and its not clear what an arrest will do for long term peace in the region. What, then, is the Administration's goal of seeking his arrest?"


Anand said...

@Blaise - I agree. It begs the question, what if people like Nkunda or Bosco had somehow come to the presidency? In interviews, Nkunda had, in the past, alluded that this is something he might seek. Would we have seen the West working with them? Wherein does the difference lie in these men? The ruling class and the proxies? It is a difficult balance, because you do have to work with existing power structures. But I agree with your overall perspective. It can be pretty hard to stomach.

Rich said...

Job Vacancy -

Anonymous said...

Those meetings were interesting Poker Games worth broadcasting. I mean - the 2 JKs and CNDP on a round table to discuss and review their future collaboration or Rules of Game!

Anyhow, hopefully all the players came to some win-win agreements, but I am very curious to know which cards they all brought to the table? Let hope that Innocent or Makenga will learn from their predecessors and not fall in the same mistakes: Greed and Fame:

BN was too greedy and very arrogant to the point of messing up an interesting deal of 0.4 Tone of Gold that went south - Fame also hype him up and he really started thinking that He was "TERMINATOR").

LN was also caught up with Fame to the point of letting AC to film him and broadcast his stuff in CNN (What was He thinking??). This show how much the Congolese culture of fame caught up on him: “Ngai pe na yebana!” Moto, bo monaki ngai na CNN! “Ba mabanga ya original!”

Clearly those events were the beginning of the end of their era. LN even started walking with a cane like Mobutu! Power and Fame - very dangerous!.

Someone needs to remind them the art of "low profile" and building power quietly. The 2 JKs have clearly master that art. The whole DRC needs to learn this: educate yourself, build yourself up quietly and surely, “a la Chinoise”. (It makes sense why JK likes them.) But He now needs some other training and learn how to use people moves and eventually use those moves and modify them to his advantage (sounds like an interesting philosophy from Japan), then He will need to learn the art of Exit. How to exit a long collaboration in a peaceful way and leave room for future potential collaboration by keeping a mutual respect – (A la Putin, no wonder he has a black belt in Judo)

At the end of the day, I hope all these players will understand that their poker games are not just games (or martial art tournaments) to make money or define their power, but they need to remember EVERYDAY- I mean EVERYDAY that there are 60 Millions + lives also involved and those lives are tired of their games and want to see a peaceful and prosperous DRC with a powerful and vibrant economy.

Anonymous said...

I believe this is breaking news (and dovetails with Rich's post from earlier and links to this post as well)):

From Enough's blog:

Kabila Calls for Bosco's arrest

I think this is really significant folks.


Anonymous said...

When will genocidaire Kagame be arrested ?

Anonymous said...

Mel is correct, Kabila, for the first time publicly, is calling for Bosco's arrest per this very recent AP article:

Also, from Radio Okapi, Kabila has suspended military operations in North Kivu and is calling for defectors to face the law:

I'm rather intrigued by this turn of events, as Jose is alluding to.

It begs several questions:

1. Who, specifically, is pressuring Kabila and Kagame?

2. What, beyond this arrest, are the central demands (particularly of Kabila)?

3. What, after the arrest (assuming it occurs), are the incentives for Kinshasa?

4. What would this arrest mean for Kony? FNL? others? Is this the beginning of something else?

- D

Rich said...

Mel -

You are right this is big news indeed. However, some of the people JK met in Goma before leaving for Bukavu, says they are happy with the promises and the words of the president - “I want to arrest Bosco Ntaganda because the whole population wants peace,” said President Kabila - but they are cautious and want to see action...

The other thing is that in the Congolese circles this is not a big news. people from the East were really concerned when this started last week but most people I spoke to, seem more interested in finding out what is going to be the outcome of the election for the Assemble Nationale's permanent committee.

Others were talking about further disagreement within udps since one of its members (Alexis Mutanda) who is now an MP has told udps that he will kick them out of their HQ which happens to be his private property but he agreed for it to be used as the party's HQ. Now that he is no longer allowed to enter ET's compound, he wants his property back...

Again everything seem to rotate around Kinshasa and the share of the cake. Something that has always frustrated Congolese from provinces...


Anonymous said...

It sims that you don't want to see peace returned to eastern Congo ,because you think more troubles in the Kivu means more trouble for KABILA ,but this to me looks like the end game for the negative Rwandan involvement in the Kivus and the beginning of a new era of a more positive relation between RWANDA and the DRC. Bosco ,NKUNDA, RCD,CNDP,MLC,Bemba.....where all ajunts of the RWANDO UGANDAN involvement and exploitation of eastern Congo. Without KAGAME Bosco is nothing and KAGAME has just arrested or Fired most Rwandan Army officers who continued theire mafia involvement with Bosco after the arest of Nkunda.KAGAME has no more interest in destabilizing the Kivu and his relations with Kinshasa is more important than Bosco. Now its time for the 17thousand UN peacekeepers (monusco) their part and cease just bein tourists and if not they shal just leave.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rich.

Yeah, for my Congolese friends (mostly in Lumumbashi, Kin, Mbandaka, and Bunia), this is hardly "news" or even surprising. As one said, "Kabila needs some kind of legacy so I guess that means getting Bosco while the rest of us starve. It his "Osama" catch".

So you are correct. And yes, people are getting a little annoyed there is still no government in Kinshasa while prices for damn near everything are going through the roof.

I guess this IS news for us on the other side of the Atlantic and, for me atleast, helps to calm my nerves given my concern that a return to violence is always so near in the Congo.

But the fact that Kabila is being pressured in this way is fairly significant, I think. Donors are clearly pissed off and are demanding some action- from him and likely Kagame.

It doesn't get us to better internal democracy in the opposition, the entire nation, nor a functioning government, and other matters but its possible we will see some improvement here as well.

As I have always maintained with the Congo, small steps. This is how most of my Congolese friends see their country. Improvement in small steps given the violent cataclysm that so shook so many of their lives.

Small steps.


Rich said...

Mel and D -

The quote below seems to me like one of the card that was played on that negotiation table before letting the fuse Ntaganda Bosco to blow...

"He has committed crimes in North Kivu and Goma... He will be judged in Goma," Kabila said. from the BBC.

Bosco himself have said in the past that he is happy to be judged in Congo but not abroad... This looks to me more like a way out they are giving Bosco and if he resists this he may then end up at the Hague...


Stand For the Congo said...

These everlasting fighting and proxy-wars of Rwanda into the Congo remind me of the Sino-Janpan wars in the North East of China. Chinese little brother, Japan, saw the North East of China, Manchuria province, as a limitless supply of raw materials. Just like Rwanda uses the Kivus to exploit and export many minerals. Rwanda has influenced a puppet (weak) Congolese state and military. The evidences are plentiful and similarities are striking from James Kabarabare as the general in charge of AFDL, to Laurent Nkunda, Bosco Ntanganta and many other generals in charge of, major security operations in the DRC such as Amani Leo, Kimia I&II, etc.

Japan’s big brother’s military was too weak just like Congolese military to directly fight back and end the violence. We appeal to the UN just like China appealed to the League of Nations for help. The UN, Human Watch Watch, the EU and many other international organizations all condemn Rwanda for its incursion into our homeland via proxy forces. Unfortunately, all we get is appeasement speeches. No one is really willing to take action against Rwanda.

During the fighting in Manchukuo, there was an ongoing campaign of volunteers to defeat the Japanese. These armies arose from widespread outrage over the policy of non-resistance, just like most Congolese understand and support our Mai-Mai compatriots’ resistance against the enemies, whether the FDLR, CNDP, or other Kinyarwanda speaking militia groups. Rwanda increasingly used internal conflict in the DRC to reduce the strength of her fractious opponents. This is precipitated by the fact that even years after the Lusaka, Pretoria, and Nairobi treaties, the weak Kabila government does not control all the Kivus and few other isolated sections of the country. Several points are essentially in the hands of local warlords. Just like Japan sought various Chinese collaborators, Rwanda uses the Banyamurenge to influence a government friendly to Rwanda.

They eliminated Mzee Kabila and put a quasi-controllable government that is somehow beneficial to them. Either our security forces and intelligence agencies are extremely gullible and incompetent or there is a high level complicity between the Kabila’s and Kagame’s regime. These are the only 2 plausible scenarios that can explain how James KABARABARE, Laurent NKUNDA, Azarias RUBERWA or Depute Jean-Paul DUNIA infiltrated the DRC institutions while being Rwandese. I personally do not believe that Kabila is cooperating with Rwanda but he is just extremely incompetent and
is used as a puppet, just like Japan did with the last Chinese Emperor of Manchukuo.

To win this everlasting battle with our little brother, Rwanda, we must learn from history and fight smart and united. We need to win the support of the US and most western powers. United, we have to prove to the world that we are ready to FIGHT, to track down and bring to justice warlords such as Bosco NTANGATA and Laurent NKUNDA. We refuse to negotiate with these monsters and want to stand up to KAGAME! I applaud Kabila leadership and offensive by bringing a newly Belgian well trained Special Forces in the Kivus.

We also need to better trade our raw material for close economic and military cooperation, with the US or any other stronger military power such as France, Canada, Germany, or Israel. They can help us modernize our industry and military in exchange for raw materials. We should also invest in our soft power and appeal to the world by finally showing us as victims. As Renan said, “getting its history wrong is part of being a nation”. As Congolese, we have to tell the truth about Kagame’s crimes and better cover these everlasting human right abuses. 800,000 in Rwanda in 1994 was tragic but 6-8 million is extremely worse. Like China we will rise and earn back our respect and our leadership role in Africa.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jason,

Any chance that we can chat before our trip to Goma and Bukavu? I sent you a message on 11 April.


Adrian Goodliffe

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