Saturday, November 9, 2013

Uganda: Saving Sultani Makenga and other batshit crazy stuff.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

'Congo peace deal signing for Monday'

                                                               Sultani Makenga

RUGWERERO - The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the defeated M23 rebels will Monday sign a peace deal, Kinshasa and Kampala said, with Uganda adding it will not send the fleeing insurgents back across the border.

A small problem, well actually a huge problem. 

“In the discussions we held in Kampala, it was made absolutely clear there’d be no amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity including sexual violence, the recruiting of child soldiers, large scale human rights abuses, not to mention acts of genocide, no-one will grant amnesty for these kinds of crimes,” he said.
Top of the list of those wanted for war crimes is the M23’s military chief. Sultani Makenga is now being held in Uganda after giving himself up.
It would seem Uganda has already granted amnesty to Makenga.

The March 23 Movement (M23) on Tuesday ended its 18-month insurgency after a resounding defeat at the hands of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since then the majority of its fighters have fled across the border into Uganda.

"The agreement is ready and we are expecting everybody to return Monday to sign it," Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told AFP of the deal.

"The signature will take place on Monday," DRC Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda N'Tunga Mulongo said while on a visit to Paris.

I can see no reason why the government of the DR Congo would bother to turn up. They have victory if Uganda is planning to help the M23 leadership escape justice so be it. Let Uganda explain itself to the world.

The M23 have not confirmed Monday's meeting but with no more military power as leverage they have little choice in the matter.

M23 will be there but that is because they are now creatures of Museveni's will, rather than a function of their reduced military power. Kinshasa on the other hand holds all the cards and if Museveni is planning to control the outcome as I have said I can see no reason for the Congolese to show.

"The agreement will detail how each case will be handled. There are those that are under US and UN sanctions, those who want to be reintegrated in the army, and those who simply want to go home," Opondo said.

You can't have it both ways. Either the M23 leadership will face the consequences of their criminality or they will be given political asylum in Uganda. Uganda could and should allow rank and file M23 members an easy out, but for the leadership there can be no deals agreed to by Kinshasa.

The peace talks, which started in December, had made little headway until the DRC army started to get the upper hand militarily in recent weeks.

The peace talks made no headway whatsoever. The Congolese Government had no possible dividend by agreeing to a peace settlement when it became obvious that M23 were going to fail in the field. I have no idea why this lie is being perpetuated, one can only assume it is a face saving effort on the part of Uganda.

One of the major stumbling blocks had been the fate of around 100 M23 officers who have taken part in a series of rebellions over the past 15 years and that Kinshasa did not want to see reincorporated into its army.

Kinshasa would have to be batshit crazy to allow any members of M23 to join the Congolese Army. I very much doubt this will be on the agenda. This solution has been tried several times in the past and appears to have failed every time I can see no reason why it would work this time.

Opondo said that the United Nations and the African Union, which backed the peace process, would attend Monday's ceremony.

Really. They backed the peace process ?

Uganda says it will not hand over rebels

He also confirmed that the military chief of the M23, a group formed 18 months ago, and which both Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of backing, is on Ugandan territory.

"Yes, Sultani Makenga is with us," he told AFP, refusing to reveal the rebel chief's whereabouts.

Uganda will not hand over M23 rebels who fled after being defeated, the spokesman for the army and the defence ministry said.

Yes. In Westminster political speak one might describe that as a very courageous decision, the Global Post reports.

" The chief of the former insurgents and his fellow M23 commanders have been branded "among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter," by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
"Many of them may have been responsible for war crimes," she said in June last year, calling for them to face justice.
Makenga is accused of participating in several massacres, mutilations, abductions and sexual violence, sometimes on children, and is on both UN and US sanctions lists."

If Uganda wish to play with fire they should expect to get burnt.
"They are not prisoners; they are soldiers running away from a war so we are receiving them and helping them because it is our responsibility," Colonel Paddy Ankunda told AFP, adding that Uganda had also welcomed fleeing soldiers from the DRC's national army earlier in the year.

Hmm... the United States is in a sanctions mindframe at the moment, as I said a very brave decision to provide sanctuary for Makenga.

Ugandan officers said Thursday that some 1,500 M23 insurgents had crossed over and surrendered.

"They will not be handed over to DRC," Ankunda said.

I suspect it might be in Uganda's interests to think about a plan B.The Hague  particularly the ICC might be worth some contemplation. 

In Rugwerero village in the Uganda's southwestern Kisoro district the men and some women from the M23, disarmed but still in uniform, were washing their clothes in a compound belonging to Uganda's wildlife authority, an AFP photographer said.

He said the fleeing fighters were calm until they saw some Tanzanian and South African officers from the UN brigade arriving and started throwing stones at them.

M23 confirming their reputation as the clowns of the Congo.

Ankunda said that fighters who refused to return home after the peace agreement would be handed over to the UN refugee agency, who would screen them and decide if they were eligible for refugee status.

How fucking unfair is that. M23 has created thousands of refugees, all most all of them I suspect are awaiting official UN refugee status and resettlement. This should not be an option for the M23 rebels, at some point natural justice must come into play, this result would contemptuously laugh in the face of justice by any standard.

"The government security forces screen the rebels when they cross the border and ... make sure they are not mixing with civilian refugees," Lucy Beck, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency told AFP from southwestern Uganda, where the fleeing rebels have taken refuge.

Civilian refugees had started leaving a UN transit camp to head back home, she said.

Something that is worth remembering when you read about Uganda granting the M23 leadership a way out.

"UNHCR is not considering repatriation of the refugees as it is not considered safe, even without M23," Beck went on, citing the myriad of other armed groups operating in the east of the DR Congo.

She said the agency was still hosting some 20,000 civilian refugees from DR Congo who fled earlier this year and that the majority of those had fled armed groups other than the M23.

Uganda might want to think about the message it is sending those armed groups by assisting the M23 leadership avoid justice.

A further 95 men from the M23, all wounded, sought refuge in neighbouring Rwanda, where they are receiving medical treatment, according to the local Red Cross.

Analysts have cast doubt on the figure of 1,500, saying that the entire M23 force numbered only around 1,000 men at the end of October.

They have suggested that the figure given by Uganda may include insurgents' family members.

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