Hiding in plain sight
Bosco “the Terminator” Ntaganda is a renegade military commander running the Congolese city of Goma like a mob boss, and his days in power are numbered. In an amazing policy turnaround, president of the DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, called for Ntaganda’s arrest during a visit to the affected North Kivu province earlier this week. Responding to a recent series of defections from the Congolese army orchestrated by Ntaganda, Kabila has now stepped away from his conciliatory tactics, declaring, “I want to arrest Bosco Ntaganda because the whole population wants peace.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) may have just found an unlikely ally in the president, as they’ve been seeking Bosco’s capture since May of 2008. He faces charges of war crimes for his use of child soldiers during the 2002-03 conflict in Ituri, but continues to shamelessly boast his impunity through luxury living and ordered killings in Goma.
Bosco Ntaganda began his career in the Rwandan Patriotic Army fighting alongside current president Paul Kagame and fellow Tutsis in a campaign to regain Rwanda from the Hutu-led regime of Juvénal Habyarimana. The post-genocide exodus of Rwandan Hutus into neighboring Congolese provinces sparked years of conflict, perpetrated by ethnically-aligned militia and international actors. In 2006, Ntaganda joined the ranks of now-captured General Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a Congolese pro-Tutsi militia with ties to the Kagame administration across the border.
His tenure with the CNDP has been marked by exploitation and violence against civilians. Rwanda has asserted time and time again that Bosco furthers Rwanda’s goals of peace and stability in Kivu, and should only be the concern of Kabila’s government. Outside his military operations, the general has a hand in the lucrative and controversial mining industry in the region. He owns restaurants and nightclubs throughout Goma, ignoring his indictment through an open, public lifestyle. However, assassinations and disappearances have accumulated throughout his territory, and his fighting force is quickly losing loyalty. With smaller ranks and the Congolese government after him, Ntaganda is more vulnerable than ever. As long as he doesn’t seek shelter in Rwanda, hiding in plain sight might finally earn him a trip to the International Criminal Court.