Burundi hands over 11 FLN combatants to Rwanda

On 19 October 2021 at 12:08

The Government of Burundi has handed over to Rwanda, 11 combatants of the National Liberation Front (FLN) apprehended on its land recently.

The captives handover ceremony took place on Tuesday 19th October at at Nemba One Stop Border Post separating Rwanda and Burundi in Bugesera district, Eastern Province through the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM).

Burundi was represented by the Chief of Military Intelligence, Col Ernest Musaba while Rwanda was represented by the Head Defence Intelligence, Brig Gen Vincent Nyakarundi.

The ceremony was witnessed by ICGLR, AU and UN representatives and facilitated by the EJVM.

The EJVM Deputy Commander, Col Khalid. M Ahmed said the initiative is a sign of renewed friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

‘’It is my hope that this gesture will go a long with cementing bilateral and diplomatic ties between Burundi and Rwanda, the two ICGLR member states and is a sign of renewed friendship and cooperation between them,’’ he noted.

Both sides, Burundi and Rwandan Heads of Military and Defence Intelligence said that they were delighted with the current efforts and collaboration aimed at contributing to normalisation of bilateral relations between the two countries and that more needs to be done in this direction.

The deportation follows recent events where Burundi and Rwanda have been exchanging criminals arrested in each of the two countries since July 2021.

Initially, Rwanda repatriated over 19 of RED-Tabara to Burundi. They had been arrested in Nyungwe National Park last year. RED-Tabara is an armed group hostile to the Burundian government.

On 6th August 2021, Burundi also sent home seven Rwandans arrested after illegally crossing to the country. The handover of these Rwandans took place in Remera cell, Ruheru sector of Nyaruguru district, Southern Province.

In the same month, Rwanda deported two Burundian men suspected of theft crimes committed at home land.

Since 2018, FLN rebel group plotted attacks in the Southern and Western Provinces maneuvering through Burundi.

Even though Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) repulsed the attacks, strong collaboration is paramount between the two neighboring countries to tighten security and work together for mutual benefits.

The exchange of criminals is considered a great milestone in the process of restoring both countries’ relations that worsened since 2015.

In 2015, a group of Burundian soldiers attempted to overthrow the then President Pierre Nkurunziza but the plan was nullified. Since then, Burundi has been accusing Rwanda of accommodating suspects behind the failed coup plot.

Rwanda has however been insisting that the individuals are considered as refugees who must be protected against deportation by international laws and accused Burundi of supporting rebel groups intending to destabilize national security.

The political mishap later halted cooperation and free movements between both countries.

Despite misunderstandings and long period of political tensions that ruined both countries’ relations, the situation is gradually improving and promising to bring the situation back to normal.

Eleven FLN combatants have been repatriated to Rwanda.
Officials from both countries after the handover of FLN combatants.