The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has welcomed the surrender of fugitive Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a string of war crimes.
United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky made the remarks at a press conference on Tuesday.
“MONUSCO has welcomed the surrender of the Congolese rebel Jean Bosco Ntaganda, and the decision… to transfer him to The Hague, where he is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri [in eastern Congo] between 2001 and 2003,” the UN spokesman stated.
“The special representative of the (UN) secretary general in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, said that the surrender of Mr. Ntaganda and his early transfer to the International Criminal Court will help advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Nesirky said.
Also on Tuesday, Tony Gambino, the former director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said Ntaganda, who is currently being held at the US Embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali, had no choice but to surrender.
“My best guess is that his options came down to go to The Hague or be killed,” Gambino stated.
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Ntaganda would remain at the US Embassy while US officials worked to “facilitate his transfer to The Hague at his own request.”
Nuland stated that Ntaganda’s transfer to the ICC is “a matter of working out the modalities, and that’s going to take a little time.”
On Monday, Ntaganda surrendered and turned himself in to the US Embassy in Kigali.
Ntaganda, known by the nom de guerre “Terminator” due to his brutal methods, has been wanted by the ICC since 2006 on charges of committing the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
On Saturday, March 16, sources in the United Nations and the March 23 movement (M23) said that hundreds of Ntaganda men had fled into Rwanda or surrendered to UN peacekeepers after being defeated by the M23 rebels.
General Ntaganda had been the leader of the March 23 movement (M23) until February 2013, and it is unclear why he chose to part ways with the M23 and to form his own faction.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.