Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Connected toys are a must-have for Christmas

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users react to Cuba and the US normalizing relations

Read more

REPORTERS

Argentina: The Kirchner era

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Tunisia presidential elections: Final day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's vote

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Holiday season: celebrating a secular Christmas

Read more

#THE 51%

Are toys really us?

Read more

ENCORE!

Child brides, the people of Syria and New York’s homeless

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Pakistan in mourning after school massacre

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya: Security law approved despite disruptions in Parliament

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-12-02

Burundi: the rebels are back

Burundi is descending into violence. Attacks on villages and targeted assassinations are increasing. A new rebel group has been formed to challenge President Nkurunziza. Our reporters went to meet its leader in the mountains of South Kivu, in the DRC. This is the first time he has agreed to speak to journalists.

Thursday December 1st was the first day that our Reporters on the new rebellion and political tensions in Burundi was to be broadcast. But suddenly, FRANCE 24 was cut off in the country. I received many phone calls from Burundians frustrated at missing the programme. They have so few opportunities to see reports on their country in the international media.

I had been thinking about the subject for several months. Burundi is gradually sinking into a new war, but no one, or almost is talking about it. It must be said that Burundi, nestled in the heart of Africa’s Great Lakes, between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is of little interest to the international community. It is one of the continent’s smallest countries, it is not rich in natural resources, and it has a limited regional role. The tragic history of Burundi has not had the same media impact as the genocide and conflict in neighbouring Rwanda.

So when a new rebel group, the Fronatu Tabara, is formed and begins to publish online statements, I seize the chance. The conflict materialises - a good starting point for a report. But I want to approach and meet the rebels. Several weeks of preparation are necessary. The armed men are reticent, they fear falling into a trap.

A meeting across the border

Finally, we manage to establish contact. The rebels give us the green light. But it is only once we arrive in Bujumbura at the beginning of November that we find out the details of the meeting. It will in fact take place on the other side of Lake Tanganyika, in the east of the DRC. We will need to climb up to the highlands of South Kivu, as this is where the armed group has installed its rear base.

We are due to meet our "escorts" in Uvira, Bujumbura’s twin town on the Congolese side. But our departure is postponed several times. It is the height of the electoral period in DRC, and President Joseph Kabila is campaigning in the region. Controls by Congolese soldiers have increased.

Two days of walking

It is difficult to be inconspicuous, since FRANCE 24’s viewers will recognise me. This slows down our crossing of the Congolese border.

After several failed attempts, we finally reach the other side of the border with our guides, at the foot of the mountains. We are told the rebels are only thee hours’ walk away, and that we should arrive by nightfall. I reassure myself that I can manage the trek. In actual fact, it will take us two long days of walking to get to our meeting point.

We finally arrive. It is several hours after nightfall when, suddenly, around twenty armed men descend on the village. These are the rebels we are to meet.


A special report by Pauline Simonet and Julien Sauvaget.

By Pauline SIMONET

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-12-19 Argentina

Argentina: The Kirchner era

The woman dubbed by some the new Eva Perón is a divisive figure. Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband, Nestor, as president of Argentina back in 2007. A year ahead of...

Read more

2014-02-14 Cameroon

Central African Republic and the 'convoy of hope'

Despite the presence of French troops and an African Union-led peacekeeping force, the situation in the Central African Republic remains extremely volatile. Clashes between the...

Read more

2014-12-12 China

China: An 'Africatown' in Guangzhou

With twelve million inhabitants, Guangzhou, in southern China, is the third largest city after Shanghai and Beijing. Like the rest of globalised China, it attracts people from...

Read more

2014-12-05 France

Do French Jews have reason to fear?

"For the first time in 70 years, France has become a country of Jewish emigration". This is how the Chairman of France’s Central Consistory, Joël Mergui, gloomily sums up the...

Read more

2014-11-28 Lebanon

Lebanon's Shebaa, a village caught in the crossfire

It’s just another small Sunni village in southern Lebanon. But Shebaa, a Hezbollah stronghold on the crossroads of Israel and Syria, is now a flashpoint in a spreading war. With...

Read more