CNDP leader, Bosco Ntaganda chatting with international journalists.
Bosco Ntaganda is making news headlines again.
The war lord nicknamed “the terminator” for his murderous efficiency reportedly told Reuters that he is commanding troops within the UN backed mission in Congo (MONUSCO). His mission he claims is to hunt down Hutu rebels. However, his past record is that of a mass murderer who, for the good of the community, ought to be in the hands of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Mr. Ntaganda is a veteran the Rwandan civil war and Congo war. He began his rebel career fighting in the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In 1996, he was part of the Rwandan team that attacked then Zaire to topple the former President Mobutu Sese Seko. After the end of the major wars, he joined Laurent Nkunda’s force, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) where he served as Nkunda’s second in command. By then, the CNDP was waging a war against the Congolese government. In January 2009, he announced on BBC Kinyarwanda that he was taking over the leadership of CNDP from his former commander.
Like his predecessor, Laurent Nkunda, Gen. Ntaganda’s fighting record has been chillingly ruthless.
In November 2002, troops under Ntaganda’s command (who by the time worked closely with Thomas Lubanga, a Hema) massacred at least 800 civilians—most of them Lendu, on completely ethnic grounds. During the Congo war, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and Uganda People Defense Force (UPDF) had supported the Hema against the Lendus. The Tutsi of Rwanda and the Hima of Uganda (both ruling class in the respective countries) believe they share ancestral bonds with the Hema.
On November 4 and 5, 2008, Ntaganda commanded troops that butchered around 150 people in the village of Kiwanja. The victims were mostly Congolese Hutu. At that time, this was one of the worst massacres since the transitional government came into being in 2003.
But Ntaganda has committed other crimes too. He is involved in the illegal sell of minerals as well as organized kidnappings targeting UN peacekeeping troops. All the crimes he allegedly committed have been well researched and documented by Human Rights Watch.
Thomas Lubanda, a leader of the Hema fighting group, with close ties to Rwanda and Uganda was arrested in 2006 and is currently undergoing trial at the ICC.
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda. However, given his close ties with the US backed Rwanda; it might take a long time before his arrest is made. Already, there are fears that he might orchestrate a new wave of killings.
Regardless of whatever influence Mr. Ntaganda has, it is sacrilegious that the UN would work with a well known mass murder in their efforts to secure Eastern DRC. Such an action sends the wrong message to fighting groups around the region and jabs direct pain into the very people that the UN is mandated to protect. It is no wonder that the locals have no faith in the effectiveness of MONUSCO.
Not only should the UN distance itself from Gen. Ntaganda but they must also facilitate his arrest and eventual extradition to The Hague, where he is sought for committing crimes against humanity. To curb impunity, well known criminals must not be allowed to wonder around scotch-free, not to mention, being given responsibilities by the United Nations.