A joint DR Congo-Rwanda military operation following a much lauded diplomatic accord has led to the capture Laurent Nkunda, CNDP rebel leader. A further destabilisation of the FDLR, a Hutu rebel group, will cripple the CNDP’s premise. Diplomatic co-operation instead of denunciative finger pointing has proved itself as a powerful tool against destructive rebel activities in the volatile region.
Rebel Congolese Tutsi leader Laurent Nkunda has been arrested in a joint Congolese and Rwandan military operation. A deal between the two governments saw between 3,500 and 4000 Rwandan troops cross into DR Congo to reinforce a planned military offensive to fight and disarm the rebels.
Many, — after years of hostile cross border suspicions marked by denunciative finger pointing concerning the sponsorship of rebel activities between countries in the region,– have lauded the political co-operation between the two governments. Rwanda decided to co-operate with the Democratic Republic of Congo in November.
“This could be the end of the dreaded diplomatic impasse which contributed to a rise in rebel activities in the region… Governments should learn from this experience to help stamp out the anti-social rebels” Jacques Samba a Congolese national said.
”Ex-general Laurent Nkunda was arrested on Thursday, January 22 at 2230 hours while he was fleeing on Rwandan territory after he had resisted our troops at Bunagana with three battalions,” Congolese and Rwandan military commanders said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Congolese government has expressed its satisfation over the arrest and is expected to officially ask for an extradiction of the rebel leader to face prosecution in his home country.
The agreement that has led to the capture of the leader of the CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People), though not made public, might also include a plan to root out the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — remnants of Hutu militias responsible for Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 who fled over the border when Tutsi forces took control.
It will be recalled that General Laurent Nkunda’s premise was to fight FDLR rebels in Congo due to the inability of government forces to do the job. Followers of Nkunda and the CNDP would be robbed of whatever excuse they have given for their existence if the FDLR is dismantled.
Gen Laurent Nkunda had been expected to make a cease fire move mid January in Nairobi but chose to boycott the planned meeting with government officials from both Rwanda and DR Congo. This was probably due to news of a sabotage which indicated that a faction of his rebel group led by General Bosco would join the Congolese army for the sake of peace
Early January, General Bosco Ntanganda, head of the CNDP, was accused of high treason by Nkunda following an interview in which he confirmed that a group of officers from the rebel group had stripped their leader, Laurent Nkunda, of his powers. He claimed that Laurent Nkunda’s failure in his functions “could have dire consequences for the CNDP and the people of Congo at large”.
Several lives were lost and about 300,000 people were displaced amid cases of torture, rape and kidnappings in the Congolese province of North Kivu in August 2008 when Laurent Nkunda’s rebel group, CNDP, launched an offensive.
It is so far unclear what the joint military operation intends to do about other rebel groups like the Mai Mai. But for now one thing is certain “though at its beginning stages, this unprecedented move marks a milestone in inter-government co-operation albeit a complex relationship” says Franck Salin, editor in chief, Afrik.