Splits deepen within the M23

From Congo Siasa Thu Feb 21 2013, 14:23:00

Reports from various sources--the UN peacekeeping mission, M23 insiders, and the Congolese army--this afternoon suggest that the rift between Bosco Ntaganda and Sultani Makenga is deepening. Details are still vague, with some going so far as saying that the two have been taking to Kigali for a sitting-down, but it is clear that the long-standing tensions have escalated.

To recap: the two have been at loggerheads since the arrest of Laurent Nkunda in January 2009 by the Rwandan army and the subsequent nomination of Bosco Ntaganda as the head of the CNDP forces. Makenga was close to Nkunda, and never got along with Bosco, who built a clique around the officers who had served with him in Ituri--Innocent Zimurinda, Innocent Kaina (India Queen), adding to them Baudoin Ngaruye. They were known as the "Kimbelembele," (Forward-Forward) while Makenga's pro-Nkunda faction are the "Kifuafua." (Chest Out) Their styles are also different: Makenga is cautious and discrete, while Bosco is known to be thuggish, calling for hits against officers he suspects of being disloyal and organizing bank heists in broad daylight in Goma.

These tensions grew after the M23 took Goma. The movement was growing in prominence, and Bosco wanted to be sure to control it--two of his allies are in the political wing, President Jean-Marie Runiga and Executive Secretary Francois Rucogoza. His people were also able to win the promotion of Baudoin Ngaruye to the chief-of-staff position of the M23.

But Bosco's faction has grew nervous about the peace talks, feeling that they would be sidelined if there were a deal. Both Zimurinda and Bosco are on the UN sanctions list, Bosco is wanted by the ICC and has a $5 million award on his head, while India Queen is allegedly responsible for the killing of UN peacekeepers in Ituri. Makenga does not (yet) have any legal issues to contend with.

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