Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bosco's Forces Join Congolese Army

AP reports that after yesterday's talks with Congolese and Rwandan leaders, Bosco Ntaganda said that his forces are now "at the disposal of the Congolese armed forces high command." AP says that although Ntaganda's statement was signed by 10 other rebel officials who identified themselves as colonels and lieutenant colonels, "nobody knows how powerful Ntaganda really is or how many forces he control." But Reuters says that while there has been "no reaction from Nkunda or those still loyal to him... the majority of his top commanders signed Friday's declaration, indicating that his support within the movement has waned considerably."
One Western diplomat told Reuters on Saturday there was now room for fresh optimism that the rebels were finally serious about peace.

"The most significant difference is that it's much more than a cessation of hostilities. It also puts CNDP forces at the disposition of the government command. That is a surrender," he said.

But the price of that peace may be dear. A source in MONUC told AFP that Ntaganda had "clearly obtained guarantees that he will not be handed over" to the International Criminal Court based in The Hague. The news of that possibility dismayed Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, who responded that "anything that doesn't end in the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda is in flagrant violation of international law."

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