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Kinshasa asked to hand over warlord to ICC

Sunday March 18 2012

By JUAKALI KAMBALE NATION Correspondent

KINSHASA, Sunday

Civil society groups in Kinshasa have asked the Democratic Republic of Congo Government to arrest Bosco Ntaganda and hand him over to the International Criminal Court over war crimes.

Ntaganda is allegedly the main accomplice of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, who was convicted of war crimes last week in ICC’s first ever verdict since it was set up 10 years ago.

At a press conference in Kinshasa on Friday last week, Benoît Idolo of the National Council of Civil Society Organisations said it was odd to see the ICC finding Lubanga guilty of using child soldiers in Ituri District, eastern DRC, while Ntaganda, his alleged accomplice, remains a free man.

“Besides, he has been charged with huge responsibilities in the national army as the military coordinator of the operation called ‘Amani Leo’ in Walikale District, eastern DRC,” said Idolo.

He further said the government should be logical in ensuring that Ntaganda, who allegedly committed mass murders in Ituri and Kiwanja in 2002 and 2009, faces justice.

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The DRC government is uneasy with Ntaganda’s case. While it would like to arrest and extradite him to The Hague, Ntaganda signed a secret deal with it when he toppled Laurent Nkunda, his commander, during the rebellion that threatened to see his group occupy the Goma city in 2009.

Ntaganda poses a threat to security in North Kivu Province because his troops, exclusively comprising members of his community, never accept to mix in the national army as expected. They never leave the North Kivu Province where they were based.

This means in case of any threat against him, the National Congress for the Defence of the People rebellion may break out again in the region. His troops constitute a separate unit in the national army.