Sources in Eastern DRC inform AfroAmerica Network that the General Sultani Makenga, the Commander of congolese rebels known as M23, has barely escaped an assassination attempt on Friday February 22, 2013. According to the sources, the assassination attempt was the work of the de facto commander of the M23 rebels, General Bosco Ntaganda. General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal court (ICC) commands M23 rebels in the shadow and represents the interests of the Rwandan Military and political leaders. General Makenga is viewed as a straw man, and the Congolese face of M23 rebels.
The dissensions within M23 rebels are not new and are inherent to the origins of M23 itself. The current reasons are the results of simmering tensions between the men within M23 loyal to ex-CNDP commander General Laurent Nkunda, supposed to be under a house arrest in Rwanda and those loyal to General Bosco Ntaganda. The M23 Military commander General Makenga is General Laurent Nkunda’s man, whereas most other commanders including Colonel Minani Tenesi, Colonel Seraphin Milindi, Colonel Bauduin Ngaruye, Colonel Innocent Kaina, Colonel Claude Mico, Colonel Innocent Gahizi, Colonel Seraphin Zimulinda, Colonel Eraste Gacari, Major Felix Mugabo, Major Emmanuel Kabundi, Colonel Yusuf Mboneza, Colonel Claude Birinda, Colonel Justin Karangwa, Colonel Jimmy Nzamuye, and Colonel Biyoyo. Even the M23 political president Jean-Marie Runiga and the Executive Secretary Francois Rucogoza have their allegiances to General Bosco Ntaganda, instead of Colonel Makenga. Colonel Makenga relies on his long line of Congolese ancestors and the troops who do not appreciate much receiving orders from General Paul Kagame and General James Kabarebe.
The seeds of the current dissension were planted when General Laurent Nkunda refused to lead the M23 rebels and instead asked Rwandan President Paul Kagame to back then Colonel Sultani Makenga, instead of General Bosco Ntaganda. General Paul Kagame had argued that he does not trust Colonel Sultani Makenga, who was born and raised in the Congo, and hence appeared to have no emotional attachment to Rwanda. General Laurent Nkunda had rejected the offer arguing that he had been away from his troops for too long and insisted on keeping Colonel Makenga and reassuring others that he will keep Colonel Makenga in check. (see DRC: Rwandan Defense Forces’ March On Kinshasa Has Begun of July 8, 2012).
Then, M23 rebels, with the help of Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) seized Goma in November 2012, forcing the Kampala negotiations. During the Kampala negotiations, General Makenga’s people wanted to sideline General Bosco Ntaganda’s powerful men. General Makenga argued that General Ntaganda who is targeted by ICC and Colonel Innocent Kaina and Colonel Innocent Zimulinda, are not innocent after all and are accused of killing UN peacekeepers and of mass crimes and rapes, and hence should be removed from M23 structure.
The Kampala negotiations eventually failed and M23 rebels leaders had to face their demons. For General Bosco Ntaganda, it is payback time, and the target is General Sultani Makenga who has attempted to use him as a bargain chip during the Kampala’s negotiations. Already, there are rumors that General Bosco Ntaganda’s backers within the Rwandan Military have started to squeeze General Laurent Nkunda and limit his movements inside Rwanda and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He had been free of his movements since when the idea of M23 rebels was being hatched by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Rwandan Defense Minister General James Kabarebe, Rwandan Military Chief of Staff General Charles Kayonga, and Rwandan President Security and Intelligence Adviser General Jack Nziza.
The assassination attempt happened when General Sultani Makenga escort was ambushed by unidentified gunmen in an area in Rutshuru controlled by M23 rebels. After the ambush, General Makenga conducted investigations and found out that the gunmen were sent by General Bosco Ntaganda. He immediately ordered the troops loyal to him to be on alert and asked the civilian leaders to move to Bunagana, a Congolese border town near Uganda. According to the sources, tensions are so high that the war between the two factions is expected at any moment.
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