The 2006 election in the Democratic Republic of Congo was supposed to usher in a new period of peace and stability for the beleaguered, exhausted Congolese people. Instead, it made one of the country's most intractable problems worse. After the election, the small but powerful Tutsi community in Eastern Congo saw their representation in the national government disappear and as a result, many among them decided their future belonged not with the ballot box, but with a gun.

As the Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda leads an open rebellion through Congo's Kivu region, the country is — once again — on the brink of war. In the last year alone, hundreds have been killed, thousands of women have been raped, and over a million Congolese have fled their homes.

But the roots of ethnic conflict in the Kivus stretch back beyond the elections, beyond the two Congolese wars and even beyond the genocide that first sent the destabilizing force of Rwandan Hutu génocidaires fleeing into Eastern Congo's hills.

Reporter Michael Kavanagh returns to Eastern DRC to unearth a decades-long story of exile and atrocity that casts doubt on whether there can ever be peace in Africa's Great Lakes if the status of the Tutsi in the region isn't settled.

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Michael J. Kavanagh is a journalist based in Kinshasa and New York who reports on conflict and post-conflict development issues around the world, with a special focus on Africa. His radio and...