Responding to gratuitous Rwanda smear in NY Times blog post

Guest bloggers Tony Gambino and Lisa Shannon yesterday took to Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog in an effort to make Bosco Ntaganda the successor to Joseph Kony as the world’s most loathed African. In making the case against Ntaganda — which echoes #Kony2012 in its refusal to contemplate nuance or context — Gambino and Shannon inexplicably invoke Rwanda.

They write:

…in a complicated set of relationships, Bosco is linked to the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Kagame remains concerned that some of his former allies and enemies could come together in a military alliance in eastern Congo, and sees Bosco as his first line of defense against this contingency.

This statement amounts to nothing more than a gratuitous swipe at President Kagame and Rwanda, presented with the kind of arrogant certainty we have sadly come to expect from outside “experts” on our region.

Every element of the above paragraph amounts to a falsehood:

Ntaganda is not “linked” to President Kagame in any way, shape or form.The reasons for this should be evident to any decent analyst.

Rwanda takes no view about the strategic merit or otherwise of Ntaganda’s continuing role which is entirely a matter for the Congolese in whose military he serves. Ntaganda simply does not defend or promote any Rwandan interest in the DRC.

Rwanda, has painstakingly built good relations with the DRC over the past several years and contemplates no “contingency” as postulated. Our two governments have worked together to restore peace, and continue to collaborate on security and economic development. Rwanda sees this as the best way to establish long-term stability and prosperity for the people of our region.

Rwanda has never been a signatory to the International Criminal Court and we have never shied away from our opposition in principle to this misguided attempt at international justice. We therefore don’t see any reason to be linked to potential ICC action on Ntaganda. This remains a matter for the DRC Government and the UN which has maintained the world’s largest and most expensive peacekeeping force in that country for almost 10 years.

There are only two possible explanations for the distortions in this blog post. Gambino and Shannon are either deliberately attempting to smear Rwanda, or they are hopelessly misguided on the very subject about which they claim special expertise. Either way, it is disappointing that Nicholas Kristof and the NY Times website granted them the opportunity to put this malice and/or ignorance so prominently on display.