KIGALI, Mar 18 – Democratic Republic of Congo rebel Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court for a string of atrocities, has surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali, Rwanda’s foreign minister said Monday.
“We have just learned that General Ntaganda presented himself at the US Embassy early this morning,” Louise Mushikiwabo said in an official statement.
Rwanda’s government is “currently establishing further details on this evolving situation,” the statement added.
There was no initial confirmation from US officials.
DR Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said Sunday that Ntaganda had fled to neighbouring Rwanda, which has been accused by Kinshasa and the United Nations of masterminding, arming and even commanding M23 rebels in resource-rich eastern DR Congo.
Ntaganda, a former general nicknamed “The Terminator” and widely seen as the instigator of the M23 group’s rebellion against Kinshasa last year, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder and recruiting child soldiers.
Neither Rwanda nor the United States are signatories to The Hague-based ICC’s founding document, the Rome Statute, and therefore would not be obliged to hand Ntaganda over to the tribunal.
Kinshasa earlier demanded that Kigali refuse to give asylum to the Rwandan-born Ntaganda, who Mende said had crossed the border at the same time as several hundred fighters from a faction of the now divided M23.
Fighting between the M23 – mainly ethnic Tutsi army mutineers – and Congolese forces in the eastern province of North Kivu has displaced 500,000 people since May last year, according to the UN refugee agency.
Over 25,000 Congolese fled to Rwanda, according to officials in Kigali.