The revelation has been made by Manasseh Nshuti, Rwanda’s State Minister for EAC Affairs speaking to The East African.
“The so-called coup plotters ran to Rwanda as refugees, and we are bound by international norms in terms of handling refugees. So Rwanda cannot hand them back. We would be breaching international law,” he said.
“So I think Burundi should not be using this excuse of refugees. They also have our refugees but we are not asking them back. No government should be able to do that unless the person is not a refugee but is a criminal,” added Nshuti.
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.
Rwanda has said instead of deporting them, it is seeking to send them to a third country, a stance that did not go well with the Burundian government.
“What we want to do is to give them over to a third country where they can relocate far away from Burundi. But even without this, the individuals are not a threat to Burundi. They are not using Rwanda as a base to attack Burundi,” Nshuti said.
During a recent press conference held last month, Jean Claude Karerwa the Spokesperson of the Burundi Presidency said that they will continue to demand the international community to pressure Rwanda into deporting the individuals.
“Justice is the only thing that will bring together Burundians and those perpetrators because the crimes were committed in Burundi, against Burundians so the Burundian judicial body should take care of it … So what we call for is for international community to pressure Rwanda to respect international laws,” he said.
Burundi recently handed over a list of names of individuals to Rwanda it wants to be deported considering it a major condition for relations between both countries to normalize. Both countries have not officially disclosed the names on the list.
In November 2020, Burundi auctioned properties of suspects accused to orchestrate a coup plot in 2015. These include possessions of all kinds from beddings, shoes, clothes, fridges, mattresses, radios, televisions, chairs, cars and motorbikes as it was reported by Jeune Afrique.
General Herménegilde Nimenya, Marguerite Barankitse (the founder of Maison Shalom, an organization that supports refugees allowing them to live their life in exile with dignity), Onésime Nduwimana the former spokesperson of CNDD-FDD political party and Léonidas Hatungimana who once served as the spokesperson of President Pierre Nkurunziza are among people whose properties were auctioned.
Others include Bernard who once served as Burundi vice president and Alexis Sinduhije who was a presidential contestant.
General Godefroid Niyombare, former Burundi Defense Chief of Staff and General Cyrille Ndayirukiye, former Minister of Defense currently in detention are also among nine senior military whose properties were auctioned.
As he delivered ‘State of the Nation Address’ President Paul Kagame explained that Rwanda continues to partner with neighboring countries to address security issues in the region.
He pointed out foreign relations’ gaps for countries including Burundi noting that the situation will finally get a solution.