DR Congo

The situation in the DR Congo has taken an interesting turn:

Bosco Ntaganda, a Rwandan national and general in the Congolese military indicted for war crimes, a particularly bad actor who’s stirred up violence in a part of the world that has plenty of bad actors and violence, walked into the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, today and asked to be delivered to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.

The question is why someone who has been as influential as he has would turn himself in. There are a few basic reasons a person turns themselves in: they’re innocent and want to prove it; they are remorseful; the alternates are all worse. Here it’s obviously the last reason, but it’s not obvious why. There’s speculation in this article as well as here, here, here, and here. Since it’s always about the resources in the DR Congo, my mostly uninformed guess would be:

International pressure has made Rwanda back away a bit from its support of the rebels. This in turn has given Kabila more leverage in the region (along with the prospect of more UN troops being sent into the region) and has resulted in negotiations with the rebel groups. Either Ntaganda was against the negotiations, Kabila was against including him, or other rebels saw an opportunity to take power away from him. In any case it has led to a split in the rebel groups and Ntaganda’s faction was losing. Since Rwanda can no longer support him, he can’t return to Rwanda and so he’s stuck. There’s still the question of why he surrendered in Rwanda and wants to be delivered to the ICC–it could be a kick at Rwanda, it could be he thought it was his best option, it could be he was forced to do it (by who?).

In any case, it’s an interesting little puzzle. The hope is this will improve things, but the problems in the DR Congo are too big and have gone on for too long to be optimistic.

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