Sources within M23 Congolese rebels tell AfroAmerica Network that a Rwandan Defense Forces high ranking officer, Major Gerard Ntashamaje, is the new political commissioner of the armed wing of the M23 rebels, known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army (ARC). In his role, Major Gerard Ntashamaje is responsible for coordinating the training of M23 officers in political and legal matters. He is also responsible for recruiting young people from inside Rwanda. He directly reports to Colonel Eric Murokore, who is responsible for the youth militias of the Rwandan ruling party, Rwandan Patriotic Front (see here).
According to the sources, Major Gerard Ntashamaje’s headquarter is in the Congolese border town of Bunagana, where training of M23 rebels is held. However, he also criss-crosses the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ferrying young recruits from Rwanda. He also make frequent trips to other Congolese towns, especially in Rutshuru and Kiwandja.
Recruiting Rwandan Young Men to Join M23 Congolese Rebels
Sources in Rwanda confirmed to AfroAmerica Network that they recently saw Major Gerard Ntashamaje in Bugesera, Southern Rwanda, where he was overseeing the recruitment of young men. The young men were part of a cohort that had been called from across the regions in Rwanda to join the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF). Once the cohort of young men arrived in Bugesera, only a few were enlisted into the RDF. Those, apparently rejected, were later asked to return to their villages. When these youth were about to leave the Bugesera recruitment center, Major Gerard Ntashamaje and his aids arrived and proposed to the youth another option: joining M23 rebels. Most of the young people accepted to join M23 rebels into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around 20 young men refused and asked to be returned to their villages. The Rwandan police was called in and arrested and detained the 20 young men, accusing them of trying to join M23 rebels.
Major Gerard Ntashamaje and his aids then ferried the young men who had accepted to join the M23 rebels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Recruiting Leaders of the Opposition
Along with his job of training the M23 rebels officers and recruiting the youth from Rwanda into M23 rebels, Major Gerard Ntashamaje was also asked by Rwandan Military and External Intelligence to recruit leaders from the opposition to return to Rwanda. Among the leaders he was asked to recruit are those who were allied with him when he was in “exile” in Belgium (see AfroAmerica Network’s article: RPR Leader Major Gerard Ntashamaje Defects to Rwanda of August 2, 2011)
Before 2000, Major Gerard Ntashamaje was a leading officer of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) and member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front. In 2000, he fell off with the current Rwandan dictator, General Paul Kagame and fled the country. He was subsequently accused, like most of the Tutsi dissenters, of embezzlement.
While in exile, Major Generard Ntashamaje joined multiple opposition groups. His constant jumping from one opposition group to another raised suspicions, some accusing him of intelligence with the Rwandan security services.
Eventually, he joined a new Tutsi armed opposition group, the Rally for the Rwandan People (RPR), that was formed in Uganda by his former RPA comrades. The mostly Tutsi RPR, which had an armed branch, RPR-Inkeragutabara, eventually allied itself with the mostly hutu rebel group, the Rally of Unity and Democracy, RUD-Urunana. The armies of the two rebel organizations, National Army – Imboneza and RPR-Inkeragutabara, eventually merged. (see AfroAmerica Network’s article: Major Gerald Ntashamaje: Dr Felicien Kanyamibwa and Dr Augustine Dukuze Kept Secrets From Me of September 10, 2011).
It is among the leaders of these allies that Major Gerard Ntashamaje has been asked to recruit.
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