Bangui – Central African Republic’s Seleka rebels, who once overthrew the government, say they’re entitled to a $5m award from the US because they handed over a wanted international war crimes suspect to American troops.
Dominic Ongwen, a commander with the Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army, is now being held by the International Criminal Court and is expected to be flown later on Monday to The Hague for trial on war crimes charges.
The Seleka rebels say they captured Ongwen and then handed him over to the American forces in Central African Republic who are assisting the hunt for the top LRA commander Joseph Kony, who remains at large.
Ongwen identified himself as “Moussa” and only later did the rebels learn they had handed over an international war crimes suspect with a reward on his head, said Mounir Ahamat, a Seleka officer in the Sam-Ouandja area.
It is not known how likely it is that the United States will hand over millions of dollars to an armed rebel group blamed for scores of human rights abuses and thousands of civilian deaths.
Seleka – a loose alliance of rebel groups – united to oust Central African Republic’s long serving President Francois Bozize in March 2013 and install their leader as the country’s first Muslim president.
They left power in January 2014 but their vicious rule sparked a violent backlash against Muslim civilians, leading to unprecedented sectarian fighting that intensified in late 2013 and continues to this day.
While Seleka is technically disbanded, the fighters continue to clash with Christian militias throughout the largely anarchic country.