KINSHASA, Congo — A notorious ex-warlord who became a general in the Congolese army despite international war crimes charges is now being blamed for fomenting more unrest in Congo’s east and faces new charges of crimes against humanity.
As Bosco Ntaganda’s loyalists started to split off from the military last month to form a new rebel group in the wilds of eastern Congo, he went into hiding and is accused of orchestrating the defection.
Human rights groups said Ntaganda had long been living openly in eastern Congo, dining at restaurants and playing tennis despite an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on allegations he forced children to serve as soldiers. Now the Congolese government has vowed to arrest him and the ICC announced Monday it is expanding the charges against him.
Ntaganda, though, is nowhere to be found. The ensuing violence from the defection of his supporters from the Congolese army has forced thousands to flee their homes.
“Ntaganda and his men are on the run,” army spokesman Sylvain Ekenge said after officials seized more than 20 tons of weapons from a property Ntaganda owns.
The International Criminal Court believes all of this would have been avoided had Ntaganda been detained years ago. He was first indicted on war crimes charges in 2006, a warrant that was unsealed two years later.
“Bosco Ntaganda has used the time offered to him since the ICC arrest warrant was issued to move from Ituri to North Kivu, to expand his power on new territories, and to maintain a power base thanks to his crimes, and the violence of persons under his control,” the International Criminal Court prosecutor said Monday.