• A version of this post appeared on the blog "Congo Siasa." The views expressed are the author's own.
As President Kabila arrived in Goma yesterday, it appears that [military commander, Bosco Ntaganda] may have misplayed his hand. After asking troops loyal to him to defect from the Army and to reinforce his personal guard last week, Bosco himself is reported to have to flee Goma on Friday night as Kinshasa deployed a battalion of Belgian-trained special forces in town.
Most reports place Bosco in central Masisi at the moment, between Kilolirwe and Mushaki.
At the same time, Col. Innocent Kaina (aka India Queen), a close Bosco ally, briefly took control of the border town of Bunagana (located close to the junction of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda) on Sunday before being pushed out by Congolese troops under the command of Col. Philemon Yav. Kaina was reportedly forced to flee to Uganda.
Tellingly, Yav was collaborating with Capt. Kennedy, formerly one of Bosco's closest supporters. As Kinshasa spends considerable efforts – and, allegedly, money – on rallying Bosco loyalists to its side, others have defected, as well, including Col. Ndayisaba in Rutshuru. Col. Innocent Zimurinda, who commands troops in Bosco's heartland of Masisi, is reported to be "stuck" in Goma with a small bodyguard.
The situation, however, is still volatile, with a considerable number of de facto defectors outside of government control in South and North Kivu. But Bosco's strategy of grandstanding in order to prevent his arrest seems to have backfired for now.
– Jason Stearns is the author of the book, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, and the blog,Congo Siasa.
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