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Nkunda loyalists petition US government, accuse Kigali

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Bertrand Bisimwa and Mbonimpa Benjamin at Nairobi talks
Kigali: Rebel elements still loyal to detained General Laurent Nkunda in the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) want to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over his “illegal” arrest, according to an email they sent to western news organizations and investigative journalists.


The group whose identities have not been made public is asking to meet Secretary Clinton and US Envoy to the UN Susan Rice over what they call the Rwandan government's unwarranted detention of the “CNDP leader, Gen. Laurent Nkunda”, and the “corresponding increase in massacres of Congolese civilians since his arrest on Jan. 22”.

The details in the email are contained in a lengthy open letter that two investigative journalists Linda Milazzo and Georgianne Nienaber have written to the two top US diplomats.

The loyalist rebels claim “Rwanda offered up Nkunda as a concession” to pressure from Great Britain and the United States which apparently accused Rwanda of responsibility in the growing insecurity in the eastern Congo.

“American and British interests threatened to pull monetary support to Rwanda. As a gesture to this pressure”, the disgruntled CNDP rebels say, Gen. Nkunda had to be put away.

The group alleges that “Rwandan intelligence infiltrated the CNDP and tried to bribe certain officers, telling them they would receive promotions and money in return for their betrayal of Nkunda”.

“(Major General Bosco) Ntaganda was promised a good position in the Congolese military hierarchy and $250,000. He was also offered a deal through Rwanda in which his indictment by The Hague for war crimes would be forgiven and erased”, the rebels write in the email.  

In December, CNDP chief of staff Gen. Ntaganda announced he had ousted his boss, a coup that would lead to a war of words, which eventually ended into Gen. Nkunda giving in. However, after the joint Rwanda-DRC operation to disarm the FDLR militias, Nkunda was detained and remains at secret location probably in Rwanda.

The dissident rebels have a different version: “In early January, with support from the governments of (Presidents) Kagame and Kabila, Ntaganda did attempt to unseat Nkunda and proclaimed himself to be the chairman of CNDP, but he failed because the 7,000 CNDP soldiers were solidly behind Nkunda.”

According to the email, the initial “plan was for Rwandan troops to dress in FARDC (Congolese army) uniforms, assassinate Nkunda and claim that his death was caused by his defense against FARDC forces in the fight against the FDLR”.

“This would satisfy intelligence interests that already understood that the Kabila government has been in collusion with the FDLR to perpetuate unrest through displacement of the population, rape, looting and killing”, the rebel elements claim.

However, the plan was apparently abandoned because “Powerful intelligence sources in Kigali, with or without the knowledge of (President) Kagame, suggested that the removal of Nkunda by assassination would assure political victory for Kinshasa, DRC, which was losing territory to the strong CNDP movement.”

The confrontation in the CNDP happened as its delegation was in Kenya taking part in UN mediated talks – which were halted but are expected to resume. According to UN mediators, the talks were making progress and a deal was in the making.

Now, the disgruntled CNDP rebels say, if this were allowed to happen, the CNDP movement would become too strong for Rwandan interests to control.

Journalists Linda Milazzo and Georgianne Nienaber write in the open letter to the US State Department that the humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is “disintegrating, and it is time for the United States to intervene publicly and forcefully”.

“The world cannot say again that it had no idea of the scope of this disaster”, the two renowned investigative writes note in the letter published on AlterNet, an award-winning news magazine.


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