Despite occasional tensions, Rwanda has played a crucial role in supporting its neighbor, Burundi, during critical times. Here are five pivotal moments highlighting Rwanda’s assistance to Burundi.
Debt settlement in the East African Community
In December 2008, despite being in the early stages of development, Rwanda, moved by a sense of fraternity, paid off Burundi’s outstanding contribution of 1 million dollars to the East African Community (EAC). This act not only showcased Rwanda’s benevolence but also prevented Burundi from facing disruptions in EAC activities, given its challenges in meeting financial obligations due to an unstable economy.
Bujumbura Market Fire
In January 2013, a devastating fire engulfed the main market of Bujumbura, Burundi. As Burundian police’s efforts proved futile, the Rwandan army swiftly dispatched two helicopters to help contain the blaze. The market, housing assets worth billions of Burundian francs, suffered severe damage. Rwanda’s prompt response demonstrated its commitment to supporting Burundi during emergencies.
Rescue Operation in the Central African Republic
On December 25, 2020, Burundian troops in the Central African Republic (CAR) faced an attack by an armed group. The Rwandan special forces, located 70 kilometers away, played a pivotal role in rescuing besieged Burundian soldiers. Despite the challenges, the Rwandan army successfully neutralized the threat, retrieving captured military assets and returning the bodies of fallen soldiers to Burundi.
Arrest and Handover of RED Tabara Fighters
In September 2020, the armed group RED Tabara engaged in a fierce battle with the Burundian army. Fleeing to Nyungwe Park in Ruheru, Rwandan soldiers apprehended 19 RED Tabara fighters along with weapons and ammunition. In an act of cooperation, Rwanda handed over the captured fighters to Burundi in July 2021, showcasing a commitment to regional stability.
Warning of Coup Plot
In September 2022, President Ndayishimiye of Burundi faced an attempted overthrow, leading to the removal and imprisonment of General Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, the former Prime Minister.
Amidst complex geopolitical dynamics, Bunyoni claimed that Rwanda had access to his phone, providing information to Burundi. While neither country confirmed nor denied these allegations, the situation highlighted the delicate nature of regional relationships.