A previous version of this posting erroneously identified Lt. Col. Zairois as “Zaire.” The former is an ex-CNDP commander from Masisi, the latter is an ex-PARECO commander from Rutshuru. It is Zairois who re-defected from the army.
A quick update on the desertions that began around March 31:
- Bosco Ntaganda is increasingly isolated in his ranch in Bunyole, Masisi (just north of Mushaki). There were two regiments loyal to Bosco in Masisi, that of Col. Innocent Zimurinda, and that of Col. Mugisha Muhimuzi, in addition to the sector command of Col. Baudouin Ngaruye. Zimurinda has been “blocked” in Goma since the beginning, and over 900 of his troops have reportedly left their positions to join loyalist troops in Nyanzale (Rutshuru territory). Bosco’s protection company has also defected, under Lt Col Ndizeye, who has also gone to Nyanzale. This is in addition to the defection some time ago of Bosco’s own protection officer Lt Col Kennedy. Estimates of Bosco’s remaining troops in Masisi range between 400 and 600.
- In South Kivu, the rebellion died a quick, if not complete death, with most of the mutineers now in government custody. Col. Bernard Byamungu (ex-CNDP) surrendered to the Congolese army on Monday in Kaziba, along with Col. Nsabimana (ex-PARECO) and 125 soldiers. Col. Innocent Gafisha, also a former CNDP command, had previously surrendered. However, Col. Saddam “Ringo” and Lt. Col. Zairois (aka Eric Ngabo), fled back into the bush after they had surrendered to the army.
- The Rwandan government has played a key role in stabilizing the situation and pressuring defectors to return to the army. According to several sources within the Congolese army and diplomatic corps, on Sunday, April 8 several ex-CNDP officers were invited across the border to Gisenyi and attended a meeting with Rwandan and Congolese officials. Some ex-CNDP sources suggest that these officers (apparently including Cols. Makenga and Muhindo) received orders to make sure their former comrades return. Other officers were reportedly called by Rwandan officials, sealing the fate of the failed rebellion.
- A disciplinary commission composed almost entirely of rwandophone officers has been set up by the government to try to mutineers. It is currently sitting in Goma and hearing the cases one-by-one.