DRC Official Says “Foreign Interests” Fueling Conflict

Posted May 14th, 2012 at 8:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he is seeking new war crimes charges against a militia leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bosco Ntaganda, known as the “Terminator,” has been wanted by the court at The Hague since 2006 for recruiting child soldiers in the district of Ituri.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters Monday in New York that he wanted to add charges against Ntaganda, including crimes against humanity and intentional attacks against civilians.

Ntaganda, who is in hiding, leads the rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). Renewed fighting between the military and rebels led by Ntaganda erupted in late April.

Moreno-Ocampo also announced he is seeking a warrant against another militia leader, Sylvestre Mudacumura, for violence in Congo's North and South Kivu provinces. Mudacumura is the commander of a Congo-based rebel group, the FDLR, or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

In another development Monday, Congo's information minister says “foreign interests” are playing a role in fighting in his country.

Lambert Mende told VOA those elements have an interest in destabilizing the country, but that there is no reason to think the DRC's neighbors are involved.

He said the country's defense minister is visiting Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi on a fact-finding mission.

The United Nations says thousands of people have fled the DRC's North Kivu province to escape recent violence there. Army desertions have left much of both North and South Kivu without regular military protection.

Mende told VOA his government is concerned about refugees who have fled into neighboring countries.

“We have something like 7,500 in Rwanda, where our governor for North Kivu was sent by the president to see what is happening with them. And, we have 3,000 who escaped to Uganda, and our government will send, I think tomorrow or the day to follow, to see what is happening and to prepare their way back at home.”

Also Monday, the United Nations says seven U.N. peacekeepers were injured in South Kivu by a crowd of protesters. It said the crowd was protesting recent attacks by rebels from the FDLR.