African Argument by Jessica Hatcher

The 2012 crisis in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo became headline news in April as Bosco Ntaganda, an International Criminal Court indictee, staged a mutiny from the Congolese national army (FARDC). Between March and April, Bosco went from being one of the most powerful generals in eastern Congo to a man on the run.

On 4 June, Human Rights Watch reported that the Rwandan military has given support to Bosco’s mutiny in the form of ammunition, arms and recruits.

While the repercussions of Rwanda’s support have become a focal point for analysis of the latest conflict, little-understood armed groups are carrying out massacres along ethnic lines under the radar of the international media. As Bosco’s mutineers fought the FARDC, more than 200 civilians were killed in attacks near the rebel’s former stronghold in Masisi territory, according to preliminary investigations by the UN’s mission in Congo

Devastating human displacement has become a norm in the violent, volcanic landscape of the mineral-rich east. The effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide erupted into Congo when the Hutu population fled Rwanda, triggering a series of ethno-political power struggles, which find no resolution today. The number of deaths as a result of war since 1998 is an estimated 6 million.

Three years of relative calm followed the 2008 rebellion in Congo, which ended with what is known locally as, The Putsch. Bosco, then second-in-command of the rebel group CNDP, double-crossed his boss, Laurent Nkunda, to negotiate a peace-deal with the FARDC, leaving Bosco in command of North Kivu and Nkunda in hiding.

President Kabila refused to arrest Bosco in 2006, claiming he was a lynchpin of the peace (despite inviting the ICC to investigate war crimes in 2004). But at the start of April this year, Bosco mutinied following international pressure to secure his arrest. Read more…