DRC: Aging Rebels, Twilight of Amani

Image by Michael Kavanagh. Congo, 2008.

Two days ago I took a helicopter to visit a town inhabited by the FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu armed group whose continued presence in Congo has prolonged this war to the point of exhaustion. They fled to DR Congo 14 years ago to escape the Tutsi-led RPF advance that ended the Rwandan genocide (and eventually brought war to eastern Congo). The FDLR are considered a terrorist group by the US government, and because just about every government - including Congo's - has denounced their continued presence in the Kivus, they tend to be difficult to access. Over the years I've met dozens of FDLR, and seen hundreds move through the demobilization/reintegration process in Rwanda. I realized for the first time on this encounter: the original soldiers in the FDLR have grown old here.

Last night I sat down for a few hours with Abbot Apollinaire Malumalu, a charismatic preacher and head of the peace process (the Amani Process) - his role is most similar to that of Desmond Tutu's during SA's TRC. In a telling merger of form and content, after a power outage we conducted at least half the interview about the state of the peace process in total darkness.