Tuesday, March 19, 2013
My twitter feed is alive with speculation and opinion on Ntganda's pre-arrest/surrender in Kigali on Monday. I have been using twitter less and less as the rumour mill and reality are regularly divorced, making following those with claimed expertise on the conflict in DRC, politics in Rwanda, etc, etc hard to stomach, and even harder to interpret. Your number of followers or regularity of your tweets does not equate with accuracy or influence, people! My own take on Ntganda's surrender to the Americans in Kigali is to remind everyone that Rwanda is a master of grand strategy. Do not discount the notion that Kagame and other senior RDF officers knew well before we did what was going on. At the same time, don't overlook that Kagame is regularly and loudly critical of the ICC, calling it a form of neo-colonialism. (And he has a point there - ICC justice is pretty flawed for all kinds of reasons). Don't reify leadership and other state actors. Yes, it is important and useful to consider the motivations and interests of Kagame and Nkunda and Kabila and Museveni and so and so on. But so are local actors, local dynamics and local interests. Don't forget to drill down behind the headline, behind what you think you know. And don't forget that Kagame and his RPF as masters of grand strategy, whether military or public relations. Remember when Rudasingwa, Gahima, Karegeya and Nyamwasa defected/exiled and started their Rwandan National Congress Party? Same kind of speculation, and we learned little new expect that Rwandans elite political class remains disconnected from local realities. Only certain types of people matter in Rwanda, and the RNC has reinforced this in adopting a platform and rhetoric that is basically Arusha Accords redux. Indeed, Gahima just published a book that could have really illuminated and opened up discussion and debate on RPF crimes before, during and after the genocide (and more). But he didn't take the route, and Ntganda probably won't either. Don't overlook that legal standards of evidence and full disclosure for purposes of national reconciliation and individual healing are vastly difference. Even if Ntaganda sings, how much will we really learn? Remember Major General Rose Kabuye's arrest in Europe in December 2008? Kigali feigned outrage, forcing protests about the illegality and injustice of her arrest in Kigali (who is truly allowed to protest, with English signage in Rwanda?). Then we learned that Kagame and company, thanks to the rules of French legal procedure that they learned of the scope and nature of the charges against Kagame himself, and other senior members of the RPF? Kabuye was scapegoated, and so could be Ntaganda. All I am saying is that there is a broader trend of RPF manipulation and control embedded in Ntaganda's surrender. Don't forget that. And don't fail to pleasantly surprised if everything I just said turns out to be wrong. Maybe Ntaganda will share what he knows as part of a plea bargain and we will finally have enough to begin the indictment process for members of the RPF.