Congo Watch: Bosco's CNDP announces its political turnaround - War in Congo has killed over 5 million people since 1998, mostly through disease and starvation

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bosco's CNDP announces its political turnaround - War in Congo has killed over 5 million people since 1998, mostly through disease and starvation

Congolese rebel group CNDP vow to join national army after Nkunda’s ouster. The National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) announced its political turnaround in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, at a news conference attended by its military leader, General Jean Bosco Ntaganda, and senior commanders.

Bosco said Jan. 5 said he had overthrown CNDP leader General Laurent Nkunda, whom he called a hindrance to peace. This is the first time since the alleged ouster that all the senior CNDP commanders were seen in public with Bosco.

The announcement was given weight by the presence of General John Numbi, who is a close ally of President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan army chief General James Kabarebe.

A thaw in relations between Congo and neighboring Rwanda may have eclipsed United Nations and African Union-brokered talks with Nkunda’s CNDP wing and the government, said former International Crisis Group researcher Jason Stearns.

A report by UN investigators last month said Rwanda supported the CNDP, a claim Rwanda denies.

Source: Bloomberg report by Franz Wild 16 January 2009 - Congo Rebels Vow to Join National Army After Nkunda’s Ouster:
Rebel dissidents in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said they would stop fighting the government, join the national army and help combat Rwandan Hutu militias in the region.

The National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, announced its political turnaround in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, at a news conference attended by its military leader, General Jean Bosco Ntaganda, and senior commanders.

The rebel group decided to yield command of “all the combatant forces of the CNDP with a view to their integration into the national army,” spokesman Colonel Esaie Munyakazi said, reading from a statement signed by the CNDP’s military hierarchy.

Bosco said Jan. 5 said he had overthrown CNDP leader General Laurent Nkunda, whom he called a hindrance to peace. This is the first time since the alleged ouster that all the senior CNDP commanders were seen in public with Bosco.

Last year, when still united, their troops overran Congo’s army in three months of fighting, causing 250,000 civilians to flee their homes.

The announcement was given weight by the presence of General John Numbi, who is a close ally of President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan army chief General James Kabarebe.

A thaw in relations between Congo and neighboring Rwanda may have eclipsed United Nations and African Union-brokered talks with Nkunda’s CNDP wing and the government, said former International Crisis Group researcher Jason Stearns.

Talks Ended

A report by UN investigators last month said Rwanda supported the CNDP, a claim Rwanda denies. The talks came to an inconclusive end yesterday.

The rebels demanded an amnesty in line with a cease-fire deal they signed in January 2008 following a similar round of hostilities in a conflict that has its roots in the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Bosco was indicted last year by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.

The CNDP says it’s defending Congo’s ethnic Tutsi minority from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia that fled to Kivu after allegedly killing 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

War in Congo has killed over 5 million people since 1998, mostly through disease and starvation. The thousands of Congolese who remain in refugee camps abroad should be helped to return to their homes, the statement said.

“To this effect it is necessary that the negative Rwandan forces, the FDLR/Interahamwe, be neutralized by our government as soon as possible,” Munyakazi said. “This is to secure the return” of the refugees.

Interior Minister Celestin Mbuyu, who was also at the session, welcomed the announcement.

“They are Congolese who said enough is enough,” he said in a telephone interview from Goma.
To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Kinshasa via the Johannesburg bureau on abolleurs@bloomberg.net

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