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Perspectives

January 23, 2009
Congolese rebel leader is arrested in Rwanda

Laurent Nkunda. Photo: Michael Kavanagh

Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda, who had campaigned against the Congolese government, has been arrested in Rwanda, a country that had been accused of supporting him.

Nkunda was caught as he tried to repel a joint force of Congolese and Rwandan soldiers.

Rob Crilly is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi who has written for The Times, The Irish Times, The Daily Mail, The Scotsman and The Christian Science Monitor. Crilly’s blog “African Safari” appears on the blog network “From the Frontline,” where he discusses why Nkunda has lost the support of Rwanda’s leaders.

Rwanda Finally Ditches Nkunda

So General Laurent Nkunda has been arrested in Rwanda. About time too. His thuggish rebellion scattered 250,000 people in the last months of 2008 as he flexed his muscles and played games with the lives of the families he claimed to represent. There are still questions to be answered – will Rwanda hand over to the DRC where he is a wanted man – but this, for what it’s worth, is my take on the affair…

Either General Laurent Nkunda has spent four years protecting his Tutsi tribemates from Hutu genocidaires or he is a Rwandan-backed troublemaker, intent on destabilising the Democratic of Congo depending on who you talk to.

Today it seems time has run out for the rebel leader.

It may be that he has fallen out with too many of his senior lieutenants or that his arrest was the price Rwanda was willing to pay in order to send troops over the border to clear out Hutu militias hiding in Congolese forests.

Either way the man known as the Butcher of Kisangani appears to have lost support in key places. “Nkunda didn’t realise that he had lost political capital with a series of foolish moves,” said a UN source in the regional capital of Goma. “He thought he was indispensable and that he could do whatever he pleased.”

The forests of eastern Congo are the refuge of FDLR guerrillas, Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after the genocide. Kigali has long accused the DRC of not doing enough to clear the forests of Hutu gunmen. As a result few doubt that Rwanda was offering assistance to Nkunda to do the job instead.

A United Nations report last year cited evidence that Nkunda’s rebels were receiving cash and recruits from Rwanda, and that senior commanders had a direct line to officials in the Rwandan capital Kigali. But his leadership had been under threat ever since a breakaway faction of his National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) declared a ceasefire earlier this week.

At times his comrades have been irritated by his erratic, narcissistic style promising one thing in media interviews, before contradicting himself days later.

Last year his rebels sparked a major humanitarian crisis as they moved on the city of Goma. A quarter of a million people were forced from their homes.

In the end Rwanda probably decided it no longer needed Nkunda’s bloody help.

To read more, see the original post.

See more of our coverage of the crisis in Congo.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

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Comments

2 comments

#2

Let us all hope that Ehud Barak is next. It is the duty of Public Media to demand that. I hope to see Israeli leaders on trial soon

#1

It never ceases to amaze me how criminal states like America and Israel and Britain get away with murder every day and then Europe and America and Israel put others on trial for this or that.
Hasn’t anyone heard that war is illegal and that if you are going to prosecute Laurent, you have to equally prosecute Blair, Ehud, and George W.? They caused the economic collapse of the world and are presently involved in seizing the riches of the Congo> Where’s the justice?

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