Nkunda’s Media War
So I made my way up into the rebel-held hills at the weekend to seek out General Laurent Nkunda, the renegade Tutsi general, who has helped bring a fresh wave of misery to Congo’s embattled people. Yesterday he was meeting the UN’s new peace envoy, Olesegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president.
It was a miserable sight. One agency photographer refused to move a snap of Nkunda kissing a baby. He said it was too disgusting. I sort of decided that Nkunda kissing babies was the point…
His rebel fighters have helped to force a quarter of a million Congolese villagers from their homes in the past three months and kept a region in turmoil. Yesterday, however, General Laurent Nkunda emerged from the bush in a smart suit and fine Italian shoes to do what he does best.
For three hours he entertained visiting dignitaries with promises of a ceasefire.
He talked, kissed babies and wooed the international media, even as his followers engaged government troops in heavy fighting.
I can’t help feeling that the international media has been one of Nkunda’s most effective weapons. We are still trooping up for a “fireside chat” and regurgitating his contradictory nonsense. Al Jazeera is pretty much staying in his guest bedroom. The result is that Nkunda is spreading his propaganda far and wide, and hundreds of thousands of people are living in fear of his army, which has little real chance of actually taking Goma or Kinshasa – his apparent targets.