Obama or Ban-Ki-Moon could end Congo catastrophe
KPFA Evening News, 06.02.2012
The Congo conflict and human catastrophe has continued despite a peace treaty formally ending the Second Congo War in 2003. It entered a new phase with the Rwandan backed CNDP rebellion in the Kivu Provinces in April 2012. Ugandan reporter, television producer, and broadcaster Paul Ndiho told KPFA that everyone knows who is doing what in Congo, but that regional and international powers are unwilling to stop it.
KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: Tens, or, some say hundreds of thousands of villagers continue to flee escalating military conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as reported this week by the Associated Press, BBC, Aljazeera, and other international outlets. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees says this has caused a humanitarian crisis in overcrowded refugee camps within Congo and in camps on the other side of its eastern borders. Who is responsible? Some, including Human Rights Watch and the International Criminal Court have laid blame most of all on East African military commander Bosco Ntaganda. Others say that Ntaganda is just the latest fall guy for an international criminal network. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Who is responsible for the new phase of Congo's armed violence and ongoing human catastrophe? Is it Bosco Ntaganda, the East African military commander indicted by the International Criminal Court, and, accused by Human Rights Watch, and, the international press reproducing Human Rights Watch releases?
Serious Africa scholars, human rights investigators, and journalists say that Ntaganda is no doubt a war criminal, but at the same time, no more than a midlevel warlord, a fall guy, and an international bogeyman, much like Joseph Kony, the personification of evil compared to Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler in the viral video KONY 2012.
Wire services and outlets including The London Independent, the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, and Aljazeera have identified Bosco Ntaganda as a Congolese General, but the 2006 International Criminal Court indictment says that the court believes him to be a Rwandan national.
This week, Human Rights Watch said that Rwanda was supporting the armed uprising in Congo with recruits, arms, and supplies. And, dissident Congolese Members of Parliament walked out when the chamber prepared to go into closed session to discuss Congo's relationship with Rwanda.
At a May 22nd UN press briefing, Roger Meece, head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Congo, dodged a question from Inner City Press, a New York City-based investigative outlet, as to Rwandan President Paul Kagame's history and relationship with Bosco Ntaganda and the CNDP militia.
Roger Meece: Ah, regarding Bosco Ntaganda, I certainly have not seen or I'm not aware of any specific statements that President Kagame has made that Bosco should not be arrested. In terms of past connections, I think you're fully aware of, of the history of the war, of the settlement, of the agreements reached. I don't think we have time here to go into an extensive discussion of all of that.
KPFA: Ugandan broadcast journalist Paul Kato Ndiho, a producer and reporter for the Voice of America, told KPFA that Ntaganda is just one commander of the CNDP militia, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, but a minor player who can be replaced. He said that, to understand the root of the conflict, one would have to follow the money to whomever is introducing weapons into the region because none of these weapons are manufactured there, or, even in Africa.
Paul Kato Ndiho: The UN had an embargo on Congo, for all these years, there's been an embargo. But does it surprise you that these guys continue to get arms?
KPFA: KPFA asked Ndiho whether regional and international enforcement actors are aware of the past 11 years of UN reports documenting the existence of an international criminal network, including the governments of Uganda and Rwanda, multinational mining, oil and gas, and timber corporations, multinational banks, the World Bank, and bilateral Western donor nations, including the U.S., organized to militarize, destabilize, and plunder the Congo. Ndiho said that this is well known, that the reports have been read, but that there is no international law enforcement apparatus willing to act to stop it.
Paul Kato Ndiho: They know the key players. They know who is involved in doing what, but the only problem is that the people who are involved are Western allies, and nobody wants to touch those people. If the international community would, maybe, want to go after these people, it
would only take a couple of statements by the UN Security Council, Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon saying something about it, even the U.S. President calling some of these guys out, and actions would be taken. But everybody knows who is involved, who is doing what in the Congo, but they can't touch them. Somehow they are also getting away with murder.