Burundi reveals that mending relations with Rwanda stays on track

On 4 May 2022 at 11:10

Burundian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Shingiro has said that efforts to normalize relations between his country and Rwanda are on good progress even though there are pending issues to be fixed.

He made the revelation on 3rd May 2022 as Burundi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented achievements in the third quarter of the fiscal year between January and March 2022.

Minister Shingiro revealed that mending relations with Rwanda has been part of areas of priority.

“We stayed on track to mend relations with Rwanda. The journey is on good progress,” he said.

Shingiro has however explained that there are pending issues to be sorted out for relations to be fully normalized, particularly the issue of coup plot suspects that attempted to overthrow President Nkurunziza in 2015.

“Stopping the support to suspects who attempted to overthrow the leadership in 2015 hiding in Kigali will be a great symbol which will also change a lot along the journey to normalize relations,” he said.

Those people needed in Burundi to face justice include Gen Godefroid Niyombare for having commanded soldiers who opposed the Government in 2015.

Many Burundians fled to Rwanda as chaos escalated in Burundi following brutal attacks of Imbonerakure, a youth group linked to CNDD-FDD political party.

Rwanda maintains that many Burundians are sheltered as refugees who must be protected against deportation by international laws.

As part of efforts to mend relations, various leaders from Rwanda and Burundi have been meeting at different times.

The meetings saw both countries exchanging criminals including rebels from RED Tabara, a rebel group hostile to Burundi and others from FLN, a terror group intending to destabilize Rwanda.

President Paul Kagame recently sent a message to his counterpart of Burundi on restoring the two neighbouring countries’ relations.

The message was delivered by Rwanda’s Defence Minister, Maj Gen Albert Murasira to President Evariste Ndayishimiye at his palace in Gitega on 15th March 2022.

Maj Gen Murasira went to Burundi following the coming to Rwanda of Burundi’s Minister in charge of EAC Affairs, Youth, Culture and Sports, Amb. Ezéchiel Nibigira who conveyed a message from Ndayishimiye to President Kagame.

At the time, Rwanda’s Presidency revealed that their discussions focused on strengthening bilateral relations.

On another note, Rwanda accuses Burundi of supporting rebel groups intending to threaten its security including FDLR and FLN among others. These rebel outfits have been using Burundi’s ground for recruitment of new combatants to be trained in DRC forests.

Testimonies show that these combatants continue to use the country to plot attacks to Rwanda through Nyungwe National Park.

As he received oaths of new officials in February 2022, President Kagame said that there is a good progress on mending relations with Burundi.

“Starting with Burundi, our leaders have been meeting with Burundian counterparts. Recently, the President of Burundi sent envoys with a message, all aimed at continuing to improve the relations between our two countries. There is good progress that we are happy about,” he said.

“As we move forward, our bilateral relationship will continue to improve. Burundians and Rwandans will be living together as it used to be and should be. What used to be a security issue at the border in Kibira and Nyungwe , people who cross to attack Rwanda and then disappear in Kibira ; we are working with Burundi and are coming to an understanding to address this issue permanently,” Kagame added.

As both countries seek to normalize relations, Rwanda recently opened all land borders following long time of closure due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

However, Burundi has not yet given a go ahead for free movements on its side.

Burundi says that both countries need to address pending issues before reopening its borders.