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 24, 2012

The Bosco-led mutiny sputters on

While Bosco Ntaganda's mutiny seems to have largely backfired, with many of the troops re-defecting back to the government, and over a dozen senior officers now under arrest, it is not yet over. While the names and positions of the commanders may seem confusing, the gist of it is this: A hard core of ex-CNDP (and some ex-PARECO) around Bosco has not been dissuaded, and the assassination of a two high-ranking loyalist officers has soured relations further with the national army.

Defections toward Bosco

Over the weekend, several additional officers deserted army ranks to join Bosco in his Masisi fiefdom, including Col Bauduoin Ngaruye. Col Baudouin (ex-CNDP, Masisi) had been the sector commander in Masisi and is known as a staunch Bosco loyalist. Nonetheless, as the mutiny sputtered out, he had come to Goma and had agreed to be redeployed to South Kivu - the army had even given him a new stockpile of ammunition. Then, as he was driving on the road to Bukavu, he took a right instead of following the lake, and ended up joining Bosco - ammunition and all - in Masisi.

In addition, the ex-CNDP former 811th regiment commander Col Innocent Zimurinda (ex-CNDP, Masisi) finally also defected after having been stuck in Goma. He is now also reported to be back in Masisi, although most of his troops - which were based in Kitchanga, northern Masisi - have joined the loyalists and one of his battalion commanders, Col Kashawara, is under arrest. A battalion commander from southern Masisi, Col Mutoni (ex-CNDP), has also joined Bosco with some troops.

Meanwhile, a key player behind the scenes of the mutiny, Col Sultani Makenga (ex-CNDP, Rutshuru) - who used to hold the deputy command position for South Kivu operations - is also the center of some speculation. He is back in Goma, allegedly after having traded insults with his commanding officer Col Delphin Kahimbi. However, his bodyguards took the road along the lake and were ambushed in Nyabibwe. Some are now saying that the ambush was intended for Makenga himself. Makenga is one of the most influential figures in the ex-CNDP leadership.

Assassination of army loyalists

Meanwhile on Sunday,  two prominent loyalist commanders were killed during an ambush on the border between Walikale and Masisi territories: Col Chuma Balumisa and Col Kamatimba Pilipili. The two were conducting operations aganst Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi, a local Mai-Mai commander, who is now considered as the culprit. However, some officials with the Congolese army and UN see connections with the Bosco mutiny. While Sheka had previously been allied with the FDLR, on November 20 last year he helped carry out the assassination of Col Sadiki Soleil, a senior FDLR officer, allegedly in coordination with ex-CNDP and perhaps Rwandan officers. He does not have many troops left under his command, and several Congolese army officers told me he did not have either the interest or strength to carry out such an ambush alone.

In addition, according again to Congolese army officers, some of the ex-CNDP troops who were in Chuma's entourage were not hurt in the ambush and may have even defected to Sheka afterwards.

Some (just some) ex-CNDP troops leave the Kivus

For some years, a key obstacle to army reform has been the reluctance of some Kivu-based armed groups - the CNDP and FRF in particular - to be deployed outside of their home region. This is why the announcement that up to 1,000 troops were being sent to the West of the country on Monday came as welcome news to many.

But the joy was perhaps premature - when details came into the Congo Siasa newsroom (that spacious, bustling suite), it appears that only 50 ex-CNDP troops were part of the 800 soldiers who left. It included three senior ex-CNDP officers: Col Mulomba (Hutu, Kalehe), Col Santos (Mugogwe, Masisi), Col Shimita Hassan (Mugogwe, Masisi).

In the meantime, the trial of 14 mutineers will begin in South Kivu in the coming days. That province, as compared with its northern neighbor, is relatively calm at the moment.

What can we make of these developments? That the mutiny is not yet over. If new officers are defecting to join the mutineers, either Bosco must not be as isolated as he seems (again, the Congolese army is pointing fingers at Kigali) or the new mutineers must feel that the prosecutions left them with no choice, as they would too have been arrested or been left without a support network, as many of their allies are now being tried.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jason!
Have you an update regarding Colonel Kahasha (Foca Mike) who defected from the FARDC in January ? In a phone call in march, he told a Goma journalist that he in Masisi right now. If yes, has he joined Bosco Ntaganda?

blaise said...

I'm baffled by the way the EMG and JK have been handling the situation since Nkunda was toppled.
I don't think humiliating those captured soldiers will make the situation better.
I think that was stupid to give to col Baudoin money and ammunition. The EMG should learn two things:
- don't mix the chain of command and payroll
- ammunition had to be managed by special units (logistics).
Idk, Etumba and Kabila acted as if they are not interested to end this mess.

Anonymous said...

One can imagine the hurly-burly of activity going on there at the Congo Siasa nerve center. Keep up the good work!

FrancoPepeKalle said...

This is so sad to me. Hypolite Kanambe alias Joseph Kabila has failed to once show leadership. There was a video I sent by a fellow Combattant personnel and it showed a video of soldiers beating one soldier for basically no reason. Worse they were Franco music while doing this. I am a big fan of Franco and this disguts me so boldy. I wonder why Kanambe has not been to show leadership. Where is Kanambe.

Anand said...

Thanks for the detailed reporting. It's hard to see how this might unfold. Lots of competing interests all tangled and webbed together. Tons of possible motivations. My main concern is that violence doesn't spread to civilian populations, who must be on edge. Cyclical instability shatters community and any sense of nationhood, which will impact holistic governmental reform going forward.

I can't say for sure, but I wonder if international players understand the dynamics of pushing Kinshasa to go after Bosco in this way. I do think you have to push for progress, but I am not sure all of the "pushers" are considering all of the potential outcomes. I hope this resolves peacefully.

Anonymous said...


"Cyclical instability shatters community and any sense of nationhood" I don't think the lack of sense of nationhood is due to instability.

The one born with Independency drowned with the former PM.
The one embedded with Zaire left with the old leader. The one rising with LDK is a ghost looking for a new body. Nowadays nothing similarly strong is around...

The army could play a little bit a nation-builder but it fails regularly unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

The paradox of the Congo's political system is entirely on display here.

The Kabila cartel doesn't want to build a strong state which, by default, requires a strong army because this would imperil their position and ill-gotten wealth. (or access to it)

Yet, because the state is so weak, it effectively delegates authority to proxies (Bosco) of foreign powers (Kigali) and thus imperils its own legitimacy and, to a lesser extent, its own finances which itself feeds discontent in Kinshasa and elsewhere.

Honestly, I really do hope someone enters the Kabila inner circle so as to provide it with objective advice about a system that, at some point, will collapse upon itself.

Or, the new Prime Minister, who I'm sure had to come to terms with the folly and contradictions of Kabilism as Finance Minister, will have the courage to truly transform the system.

I guess we will all have to wait and see.

Thanks for these updates, Jason. Your diligence is appreciated.


@Judith- if you are reading, it would be very nice to have a census or even an online spreadsheet of all the different rebel groups, commanders, who joined the army, who defected etc. Jason's reporting, and those of others like Johnny Hogg and Melanie Gouby, is really helpful but I do feel quite lost with all the names, their current and past affiliations, the names/acronyms of current and past rebel groups, etc. Rich said you may have a resource like this? If you do, please PLEASE share it with the Siassa Community. And thanks, Jason, for the nomenclature you are using now- "title" "name" "ex-rebel group name", "place". This does help somewhat.

Anonymous said...

Mel I am looking for the exact same thin and was even considering creating one myself.

If there is already one, I would love to get it.


Anonymous said...

Let's see...Kigali instructs certain Congolese officers to act as dupes and face Congolese military justice...other officers are instructed to repair to Masisi and link-up with Bosco to await further instructions. Meanwhile, loyal Congolese officers are ambushed on the road while carrying out their duties.

Just what is Kabila supposed to do? Act decisively and risk yet another Rwandan intervention. The FARDC is years away from dealing with an external threat from its neighbors.

As it stands, Kigali has it both ways, some CNDP troops in the FARDC and a reconstituted CNDP under Bosco no longer under any kind of Congolese military hierarchy.

The international community (specifically the United States) pushed Kabila into rapprochement with Kigali...and now the international community is pushing Kabila into arresting Bosco.

Who is going to fix this mess when a regional war reignites?

Anand said...

@Andrea - I posted back to you earlier, but it seems to have been lost in the "cloud" somewhere. Don't have to time to re-write at the moment. But just to clarify, I am speaking mostly about conflict areas and how the fabric of community is worn by displacement, fracturing of families, etc. I think this breakdown, combined with disconnect to Kinshasa and the country at large (due to infrastructure, fraudulent elections etc.) makes it hard for a sense of nationhood to emerge in some areas. I agree with your idea that turn over at the national level makes this hard as well. I don't mean to imply that there is a lack of nationhood everywhere in the DRC. And yes, a cohesive army that serves the people would certainly help some in this regard. Any country, whose borders are drawn by the hands of others, faces challenges in national identity. Thanks for the response!

Anonymous said...

@Anon April 25, 2012 1:43 PM

given the level of engagement of the USA post-kony2012, i seriously doubt policy planners are going to allow kigali (or anyone) to destabilize the great lakes with yet another war.

and this becomes particularly problematic given the real problem- the sudan's more or less at war as I type.

just where is kagame to get troops from given their posture in Sudan and, likely, in Somalia?

thin air?

kigali isn't in a position either militarily, politically, or in its increasingly strained relations with the US to start a war in the Congo. the linchpin of assistance to Kigali (and Kampala) is to a) get Kony b) provide troops to peace in Sudan c) provide yet more troops in Somalia once that evens out d) snuff out any opposition figures not down with capitalism

failure to follow through with any of these fairly central demands from DC will mean a good ole DC reprimand.

and kabila and company know this hence this push.


i know this is hard folks but do try to remember this is 2012- not 1997.


Rich said...

Here are some of Judith’s guest blogs posted on siasa. I had to dig them for you. I’m sure a few things need updating still they can give you a broad context...


Anonymous said...

Renewed violence in the Great Lakes does not serve the interests of the US/donors.

Therefore, Kigali and Kabila will comply and deliver Bosco to either international (ICC) or Congolese "justice".

Anonymous said...

Hey Jason,

thanks for all your analyses. Kabila is up to no good, and he knows it. His statements in Goma were within the parameters defined by the “Communaute Tutsi” in Nord-Kivu in a letter of March 15, 2012 to Mr. Ban Kin Moon, the UN boss, with a cc to, among others, Mr. Kabila. I cannot remember reading any analysis by Congo Siasa of that letter. Correct me if I am wrong.

In 2007, w.r.t. the events around Waterloo-Mushaki, one El Memeyi Murangwa from wrote: « RDC : Chikez Diemu à Goma pour une autre livraison à domicile d’armes au CNDP. » If I read Congo Siasa right, the boys are back to their dirty trick: betrayal of the country while enriching themselves. Here, we learn of Col Baudouin (ex-CNDP, Masisi) that “the army had […] given him a new stockpile of ammunition [and that] as he was driving on the road to Bukavu, he took a right instead of following the lake, and ended up joining Bosco - ammunition and all - in Masisi.” I see a pattern here. Indeed, we have some CNDP soldiers (out of 50?) announcing to Radio Okapi their intention to « ne plus jamais trahir le Congo ». Etumba and his boss must have heard or read this. These soldiers know pretty well that they can do whatever they please, even (ahem!) “betray their country” without being held accountable for their betrayal by, for instance, being court-martialed, imprisoned, or facing a “peloton d’execution”. Time has come to initiate procedures for the destitution of Mr. Kabila for the obvious reasons. It does not matter whether he just bought himself a new five-year term.

Judith said...

Let me add a few thoughts on the topic of what, in a wonderful play of words, has come to be labeled “transhumance militaire” in the Congolese press. As you might know, the word “transhumance” describes the seasonal displacement of cattle herds to greener pastures, and is often a source of tensions with cultivators, as cattle trample on their fields. Using this term for the deployment of military outside of Kivu (possibly with a strong undertone of specifically targeting the CNDP leadership-who are dominated by the cattle-breeding Tutsis, many of whom have their herds in Masisi), is appropriate, for this exercise has similar conflict-generating potential, if not carried out in a balanced manner.

The deployment of military outside Kivu is such a delicate issue for two reasons:

Firstly, it touches directly upon established interests and influence spheres, for the militaires communautaires (or locally recruited and deployed military) as they are now called, are integral components of certain (militarized) political-economic networks, and dislocating them would undermine the military powerbase of such networks.

Secondly, and related, large-scale rotations will alter the often very fragile power (un)balance between different communities in any given area, for those communities are in part the constituencies of these militarized power networks, even if their interests are often not well-guarded by the elites thereof. However, at the psychological level, the near-by presence of military of one’s “own kind”, works as a safeguard, as it is a source of potential protection in case tensions between communities flare up.

What lies at the root of this is a fundamental distrust both between communities and from communities in the national army, which has never come to be considered as “neutral” or as capable of providing genuine protection.

This fundamental distrust is the product of the legacy of years of warfare, ongoing local conflict dynamics (over representation, influence and positions of authority, land and land use, natural resources etcetera) topped off by manipulation by local and national political and economic entrepreneurs.

Judith said...

For these reasons, moving military out of the Kivu, while absolutely necessary for army reform, and eventually an end to the violence, is a very tricky business, to say the least, as it will trigger shifts in those complex local constellations of power. It should be emphasized that this does not only concern the ex-CNDP (although the problem is much more acute in their case, especially in Masisi), as “localized military” is a phenomenon to be found throughout Kivu. Many ex-Mai Mai have also been reluctant to leave their strongholds, for the same reasons, and even military from other parts of the DRC have been deployed for such a long time in the same areas in the East that they have built up very strong local interests and connections. Therefore, the announced military reforms, at least if they will be applied in a consequent manner, which is doubtful, may have far-going consequences, and have the real potential to reinforce local tensions.

However, as long as nothing moves, this vicious circle (a lack of trust in the neutrality of the army which, combined with local power conflicts, reinforces the need to have a military powerbase, which, in combination with powerful vested interests, leads to the refusal to displace integrated military elsewhere, which in turn diminishes the perceived neutrality of the army, etcetera) will not be broken. It essentially boils down to a classic security dilemma between different power networks and communities.

Finally, concerning some requests for comprehensive lists of armed groups: these are rather difficult to make, perhaps except for the biggest, more stable groups, given the overwhelming amount of armed factions in eastern DRC and their state of rapid flux. I agree it would be neat to have a weekly updated website with a detailed map of the DRC locating all the different AG, and then click on them to have some basic information on leadership and mode of operating. However, this would require the resources of an organization. The best and most comprehensive source of information on AG remain the various Group of Experts reports. They also contain a wealth of information on some of the protagonists (all integrated ex-armed group leaders) of the ongoing defection drama, whose names are filling the pages of the media and this blog these days.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Rwanda has a strong army like many people here like to say. The Rwandan army is nothing but a tribal militia with no strong air power or navy... The only reason why the CNDP has been getting away is Monusco (UN, peacekeepers) who always interfere in the name of population protection when the CNDP is under pressure from the FARDC. If the CNDP under Nkunda and Mutebusi where driven out of Bukavu by the FARC in just days ,I don't know why a weaker Bosco and his hundreds or so loyalist can not be captured or driven out of massisi by the thousands of better equipped FARDC. I know many people do not wish for a end to this ,but calling the Rwandan army strong or powerful is questionable .

Rich said...

Judith -

Sorry to have put you on the spot about the list of those involved in the conflicts... Anyway, many thanks for the insight. I wanted to add one thing that many tend to forget.

As you've just said, quote, "This fundamental distrust is the product of the legacy of years of warfare, ongoing local conflict dynamics... topped off by manipulation by local and national political and economic entrepreneurs."

in 1998 when L D Kabila ended the alliance with rwanda and uganda, many people got lynched, torched, massacred... in Kinshasa's streets and various parts of the DRC. This alone can act as a powerful psychological barrier preventing those who feel austracised to move further infield DRC...

Here comes the problem of allegiance to the nation Vs allegiance to a national or transnational ethnic group. I think communities at all levels of the Congolese society have a serious work at hand to try and reassure one another about the benefit of living in peace and the engagement to settle conflicts through non-military means...

I know this is easy to say but not to do but if we monitor the political discourse within the community as well as the political elite, I don't think many are serious about working for peace ... Public opinion about different communities in DRC can change if the political and community elite is serious about making peace and the military will have at least one reason less to argue against serving the nation and not their community.


blaise said...

@ Rich,
I totally agree with you: doesn't look like people are serious about peace. It appear to me that most of the actors are into revenge than anything else.
Jk had to choose between discipline in the army or half baked deals. At the end of day, justice had to prevail. A perception of fairness from the State will undermine all those doomsday's prophets.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Judith for the comments/resource suggestions and Rich for the links to the guest blogs. They were really helpful and rather informative.

I still believe it would be useful to fully catalogue the armed groups in the Congo, their leaders, command structures, and whether or not there has been any rapprochement with the Army- and do so on an ongoing basis. At the very least, as Blaise has mentioned, this would clearly lay out for both the Congolese and those concerned about them who is engaged in what.

In our efforts to describe and analyze- as Judith and Jason do brilliantly- we must not place aside accountability. I know for a fact that my Congolese friends who live outside of the East are still very perplexed by all the groups and factions that plague the region.

If native Congolese are so perplexed and unsure on where to place blame how can they hold accountable those who perpetuate crime and/or tolerate it?

I realize many of the folks who visit this blog are scholars and journalists of the Congo. Please keep in mind you are not the only audience for the blog and, for those who see the Congo as being more than the object of inquiry, we crave a little bit more than “its complicated” or “read a report”.

That said, a few of my friends here on this side of the Atlantic who read this blog were confused by who is “Sheka”. I gather others may have this confusion as well.

Sheka is short for Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka. Sheka, like Bosco, has a warrant out for his arrest but the difference is that it was issued by Congolese authorities. During the elections, he even ran for National Deputy to the National Assembly which is the lower house of the Congolese national Congress, and managed during his very public campaign and in the presence of the police not to be arrested.

Here is an article about him from Al Jazeera:

He also has been sanctioned by the UN, which you can find here:


Anonymous said...

you know what else would be interesting? a study about power and power relations in kinshasa. so, basically, how power is wielded in kinshasa.

when people describe the congo's "political system" you always hear things like kleptocratic, mafioso, cartels, "geo-politics", Mobutism, Kabilism, concentric circles, etc but, to my knowledge, we don't have a comprehensive study of this system.

i think this is needed. if only for those who study all aspects of the congo and, particularly, those who make public policy.

stearns gets close to this in his book, and trefon got even closer in "congo masquerade".

but i'm thinking of something more....systematic. more probing.

does something like this exist out there? is there some bright, young, political scientist doctoral student out there that is probing this?

i imagine the problem in providing a clear study of the congo "political system" is, clearly, the autocratic and secretive nature of the regime. the person studying the regime would have to get REAL CLOSE to those who have power, earn their trust, and be allowed to document every decision of those who wield power.

i believe a very comprehensive study of this regime and how it wields power would be incredibly illuminating to congo watchers and various social academic disciplines. we tend to operate from assumptions about autocratic regimes when discussing the congo but i guess i question if those assumptions work in the congo's case.


as i learn more about the congo it becomes clearer to me that while this regime is autocratic it is able to be so in a state that does not function.

when i think of an autocratic regime i think of something like Franco's Spain. but that regime had the FULL control over all Spaniards and was the sole authority.

we don't have this in the Congo but we do have autocracy. or, in short, the Congo is autocratic but it is not authoritarian.

well, why?


Anonymous said...

Hi All,

I heard that the President is coming back to Goma next week - This shows the situation is out of control.
There was a scandal couple of days ago when a wife of Colonel Makenga went to the house of late Colonel Chuma (to share the grieve), the guard refused her to enter, the action was taken as a bad signal to other Kinyarwanda speaking fellows as they leave one by one before the worst come.

Some rumors from Goma;

i) Bosco has distributed cash for youngsters and armed groups to react and demonstrate or fight and control Goma city, if he is caught.
ii) When taking Kivu-armed group to other part of DRC, the ex CNDP troops asked their outstanding salary and allowances first - after getting what they have demanded, most of them said they will go BY FOOT where they want them to go NOT BY PLANE.

As Jason indicated, the mutiny is not yet over!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

@ anand:

I instead tink there is a general lack of sense of nationhood in the country, at least in the East but it is not because of the war or the dispersed families, it's just because in my view the congolese nation existed only between independency and the rise of Mobutu.
A better army could serve much better, not only for state building but also for nation building. This last practice has seen very few interventions and those were probably more dictated by electoral interests than by real willingness.
Too many people still rely on families ties and ethnic fragmentations and practices are often predominant on the rule of law.

"Any country, whose borders are drawn by the hands of others, faces challenges in national identity."

Trust me, congolese national identity existed barely from 30th of June 1960 to the beginning of zairinization; and congolese missed the chances to build upon factors tat could have catalyzed the creation of a identity. It's an interesting discussion indeed, thanks for your comment. Is there any forum where we can continue this?


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