Laurent Nkunda’s betrayal and a confused lot

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The Congolese rebel movement is going through a crisis. Head of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), Bosco Ntaganda, was, Monday accused of high treason. He had declared that his boss, rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda, had been stripped of his powers by a group of CNDP officers. This declaration comes at a time when relations between the Monuc and the rebel group have become uncertain.

Tuesday’s accusation of General Bosco Ntanganda, head of the CNDP, for high treason follows an interview he gave to the BBC, Monday, in which he confirmed that a group of officers from the rebel group had stripped their leader, Laurent Nkunda, of his powers. Bosco Ntanganda and Désiré Kamanzi’s (the group’s spokesperson) claims that Laurent Nkunda has failed in his functions as leader “could have dire consequences for the CNDP and the people of Congo at large”.

Although the information was immediately denied in a statement sent to the AFP from the rebel group’s number two head, Colonel Makinga Sultani, it is no doubt that the incident has seriously damaged Laurent Nkunda’s credibility. On the question of a possible inside power struggle, CNDP’s military spokesperson confirmed that “the group is intact and its various organs are fully operational”, although the rebel group came together, Tuesday, to decide on the fate of the dissident General, Bosco Ntaganda.

There is utter confusion within the CNDP. The Monuc (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo), accused of conniving with Congolese government forces by the Nkunda’s rebels, is also in the line of fire. A communiqué signed by Bertrand Bisimwa, Monday, stated, “What is this game being played by the Monuc? More precisely, what mischief are they up to?” According to the rebel group’s spokesperson, the UN organ is fuelling confusion on the position of government forces (FARDC) in the demilitarised zones bordering the front lines in Kibati, east of the country. Paranoia or truth? No one can tell. But lately, the CNDP has increasingly accused the Monuc, which has in turn continuously denied all allegations. “Contrary to the accusations of the CNDP (…), the Monuc is doing its level best to protect civilian lives, to strengthen the legitimate institutions of the Democratic republic of Congo and to encourage national reconciliation”, the mission explains in a communiqué issued January 2.

The rebels, Friday, demanded an official verification of peacekeeping on the frontlines before any talks could go ahead. This could well be a tactic to delay the date set for negotiations, which already look compromised from the tell-tale signs of the CNDP’s attitude.

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