Timeline: who is Bosco Ntaganda? what is the M23? and why did he hand himself into the US Embassy yesterday?

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

As reports come in that Bosco Ntaganda has handed himself in to the US Embassy in Rwanda after seven years on the run, it is helpful to present a timeline showing what Ntaganda is accused of and detailing his alleged involvement in the M23 rebel group. When one looks at recent events within the M23, one can see how recent power-struggles within the rebel group may have left Bosco Ntaganda vulnerable within the group. Meanwhile ongoing peacetalks in Uganda between M23 and DRC (with the participation of Rwanda and Uganda) may have finally deprived Bosco Ntaganda of protection from his alleged long-standing ally, Rwanda. All these factors may have influenced his decision to hand himself into the US Embassy yesterday.

Bosco Ntaganda was the former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the FPLC, the same group as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. After the conflict in Ituri ended in 2003, Bosco Ntaganda joined another rebel group the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) which was supposedly backed by Rwanda. More recently, Bosco Ntaganda has been accused of leading the rebel group in the M23 rebel group that operates in the Eastern DRC. For a short profile of Bosco Ntaganda see here. For previous posts on this blog on Bosco Ntaganda and the M23 group see here and here.

Timeline (most recent events first):-

18 March 2013: Bosco Ntaganda is reported to have surrendered to the US Embassy in Rwanda.

16 March 2013: Jean-Marie Runiga, the dismissed political head of the M23, is reported to have been detained by Rwandan authorities after fleeing over the border.

16 March 2013: one faction of M23 reported to have regained control over all the group’s territory in Eastern Congo

11 March 2013: fighting between rival factions of M23 said to be continuing as DRC government said to be close to peace agreement with M23 allegedly offering following terms:-

  • M23 rebels hand in weapons
  • UN peacekeepers are deployed to region
  • Rebels not facing prosecution to be integrated into army
  • M23 fighters offered limited amnesty
  • Speeded up return of Rwandan refugees

7 March 2013: anonymous sources report that DRC government is close to peace deal with M23 rebels saying that Kinshasa has offered to integrate fighters loyal to Sultani Makenga into the army in a deal that would isolate rival rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda.

28 February 2013: Congolese rebel group M23 is reported to have dismissed its political leader, Jean-Marie Runiga, accusing him of “high treason” and replaced him with their military chief, General Sultani Makenga.

26 February 2013: Fighting between M23 factions reported.

25 January 2013: UN reported to be close to closing a peace deal between M23 and DRC government.

18 January 2013: DRC government reported to have rejected unconstitutional M23 rebel demands.

8 January 2013: M23 rebels declare a unilateral ceasefire.

4 January 2013: talks between M23 rebels and DRC government resume in Uganda.

13 December 2012: talks between M23 rebels and DRC government continue in Uganda.

11 December 2012: talks between M23 rebels and DRC government stall.

2 December 2012: M23 rebels complete withdrawal from Goma.

28 November 2012: DRC accuses Rwanda of shielding Bosco Ntaganda while he is nowhere to be seen in Goma.

27 November 2012: M23 rebels agree to leave Goma.

22 November 2012: M23 leader, Makenga, heads to Uganda to meet with DRC and Rwandan Presidents.

21 November 2012: M23 fighters enter Goma in eastern DRC and say that they are ready to march on Kinshasa.

14 November 2012: US sanctions M23 leader Sultani Makenga.

18 October 2012: Rwanda joins Security Council.

17 October 2012: leaked UN Report says Uganda and Rwanda are supporting M23 rebels.

August 2012: President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, holds a three-day summit with five other African leaders in Kampala, the capital of Uganda but failed to resolve the border region dispute.

3 August 2012: Uganda denies providing outside support to the M23 rebel group.

16 July 2012: UN Security Council condemns attacks by M23 and demands that all forms of outside support to them cease immediately.

13 July 2012: Reports of UN troops attacking M23 rebel positions, to prevent them advancing further towards Goma.

13 July 2012: the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court issued a new arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda for crimes committed between 1 September 2002 and the end of September 2003, when he was Chief of Military in Thomas Lubanga Dyilo’s UPC (Union des Patriotes Congolais, UPC) and its military wing FPLC (Forces Patriotiques pour la Liberation du Congo).

11 July 2012: Thomas Lubanga is sentenced to 14 years after being found guilty guilty, as a co-perpetrator, of the charges of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the UPC/FPLC and using them to participate actively in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

10 July 2012: M23 rebel group makes rapid advances on Goma.

7 July 2012: Communique from DRC’s defence minister calls on army to arrest Bosco Ntaganda.

6 July 2012: M23 rebel group are reported to have taken Bunagana, an important mineral transit town on DRC’s Eastern border.

27 June 2012: UN Group of Experts allege that Rwanda is is substantially funding and arming the M23, in order to fight a proxy war with the FDLR. the Hutu rebel militia which remains encamped on its border.

June 2012: Media reports speculate that Rwanda is behind conscription of M23 rebels.

30 May 2012: Bosco Ntaganda dismisses the ICC charges against him as “lies” and denies any involvement in the M23 rebel group.

On 3 May 2012: Col Sultani Makenga, another former a former CNDP commander, was reported to have begun separate revolt from the FARDC.

Late March 2012: Gen Bosco Ntaganda, a senior officer in the DRC national army (FARDC),  was reported to have led a mutiny of 300-600 soldiers following discontent over unpaid wages and poor living conditions.

February 2010: Bosco Ntaganda was reported to be living in luxury in Goma, DRC.

23 March 2009: Laurent Nkunda’s CNDP was integrated into the FARDC as part of the 23 March 2009 peace agreement.

August 2006: arrest warrant issued against Bosco Ntaganda by the ICC in August 2006 for the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under 15 years old and using them to participate actively in hostilities, the same charges as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo.  The charges relate to the armed conflict which took place in the Ituri district of the DRC from July 2002 until the end of 2003.

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2 thoughts on “Timeline: who is Bosco Ntaganda? what is the M23? and why did he hand himself into the US Embassy yesterday?”

  1. Pingback: Weekly News Roundup: “National dialogue” in Yemen, CAR on edge, and Bosco takes a long vacation to The Hague | Notes on the Periphery

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