Mystery surrounds killing of M23 officer

The killing of M23 Major Anicet Musana on Sunday in Rutshuru sent shock waves through the region, coming on the same day as the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement. What exactly happened, however, is shrouded in mystery.

What do we know? Musana was drinking in a local bar in Rutshuru town when he became victim of a targeted attack––reports from the UN and M23 say that he was hit with an RPG, killing him instantly.

The blogosphere lit up immediately, with most Congolese papers as well as the UN radio reporting that the killing was an internal M23 clash, the result of long-standing tensions between Bosco and Makenga. The M23’s official version was that this had been an FDLR attack, as the Rwandan rebels took advantage of the M23’s internal squabbling to stage a daring raid.

However, it is increasingly likely that the assassination was carried out by Musana’s M23 colleagues. First of all, it was an assassination––it doesn’t appear that the FDLR pillaged or took anything of great importance, and in the past they have been more interested in sneaking through M23 lines into Rwanda than picking a fight. Testimonies by M23 soldiers, MONUSCO officials, and ex-CNDP officers in the Congolese army also bear this out.

But this still leaves many questions open: Was it Makenga’s or Bosco’s people who carried out the deed? Musana was a close associate of “General” Baudouin Ngaruye, a Bosco ally who had been promoted last November to even out the Makenga-Bosco balance within the M23 High Command. This might lead us to conclude that it was Makenga’s people (and some M23 insiders back this hypothesis), but others point to how close Musana was to Laurent Nkunda, Makenga’s mentor, and suggest that Baudouin had gotten wind of possible treason.

Rumors are swirling, and some sources seem particularly eager to get their version of the story across, which should give us some pause. In the meantime, Makenga has withdrawn to Tshanzu, close to the border with Uganda and Rwanda, and Bosco is said to be around Runyoni, not far away from Tshanzu––another bizarre development––with competing banter about a manhunt for one or the other in which the Rwandans may or not be playing a role.

Clear as Masisi mud.