Rwanda and Burundi might be holding secret diplomatic talks to end spats which exist between the two sister countries.
The tense state of Rwanda-Burundi relations started in 2016, when Bujumbura mounted a number of serious allegations against Kigali.
At the time Burundian Government accused Kigali to support Burundian rebels who wanted to topple Pierre Nkurunziza Government.
Just days before Rwanda marks the 1994 genocide, accusations by Burundi that Rwandan President Paul Kagame wants to “export” genocide have taken relations between the two neighbors to a new low.
While presiding over a ceremony for new military chiefs on Tuesday (29.03.16), Rwandan President Paul Kagame said global security was worsening by the day. “People need to work together and we need to complement each other. Rwanda is committed to peace and security in our country, the region and beyond,” Kagame said.
An editorial by Rwanda’s daily, The New Times, published on Tuesday (29.03.16) had the title: ‘The Rwandan spirit will prevail against Genocide revisionism’. The editorial criticized Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party, after its leader Pascal Nyabenda accused Kagame of seeking to “export” genocide.
At that time President Paul Kagame Tweeted “On the situation of Burundi as an African and especially Rwandese I have to painstakingly conclude History is awash with lessons but little learning.”
On the situation of Burundi as an Af'can and esp Rw'dese I have to painstakingly conclude #History is awash with lessons but little learning
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) February 20, 2016
— Amb. Willy Nyamitwe (@willynyamitwe) February 20, 2016
— MANDELA Muzinga Sam (@SamMandela) February 20, 2016
In the same year Kagame explained that, “when the death toll is found to be too high and questions asked about responsibility to protect the people, the answer will be simple; ‘we did not know’!”
He added that, “The argument will go on and on….and life will continue to be lost…instead of never-again…we have…yet-again.”
Kagame was commenting on “senseless killings” in Burundi covered by diversion and allowed the situation to deteriorate without any helpful response.
More recently, the Belgian Government has accused Burundi of harboring infiltrators who want to destabilize the security of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The accusations followed the diplomatic and security tension between Bujumbura and Kigali after attack on the 1st of July in the southern province of Rwanda where armed “people” shot dead two citizens in Nyaruguru District and stole many properties including goats.
After the attack, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes a statement on its website reads “The North-West (North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo) and South-West (South Kivu, DRC and Burundi) Borders) of Rwanda are regularly the scene of confrontation. Sometimes [armed] groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and more recently from Burundi (around the Nyungwe Forest) infiltrate into Rwandan territory,” read on July 23 on the page dedicated to Rwanda.
In the background, the Belgian diplomacy accredits the thesis that the attacks in southern Rwanda, including that of July 1 in Nyaruguru, were the result of armed movements that took refuge in Burundi.
A thesis denied by Kigali, who prefers to evoke it as “bandits” attack while the Burundian Government also warned that Belgium statement are dangerous and could cause devastating effects in the whole region.
Kigali calls it” empty rumors”, however, there are allegations of incursions led by members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a rebel formation in exile born of the convergence of opposition to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of Paul Kagame, who announced in mid-July that he had formed an armed wing, the National Liberation Forces (FNL).
A hammering of drums that seems to have reached the ears of the Belgian diplomatic services: the mention of “armed groups” “coming from … Burundi” disappeared from the text in the three days that followed.
Brussels, Bujumbura, Kigali Tensions being sorted out secretly
“Belgium has taken good note of my proposal and has withdrawn this information that I call false,” said Willy Nyamitwe advisor to the Burundian President when contacted by Jeune Afrique.
On Friday 24th August 2018, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Ezeckiel Nibigira announced that Burundi has held secret talks with Rwanda and Belgium to put an end to the diplomatic quarrels that existed between them.
He said “To date there is a significant step reached towards the revival of good relations between Burundi and the two countries.”
Nibigira announced the move after secret consultations that he had with all foreign diplomatic representations in Burundi.
The Meeting aimed at informing the diplomats about the upcoming Burundian dialogues that will take place outside the country.
However Nibigira announced that “These are last dialogues that Burundi is going to hold outside.”
New Image of Burundi
Burundi is being seen in a new image after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he will not run for Presidency after his current tenure of office ends.
Experts said this is another victory for the presidential camp with regards to the agenda of the discussions.
“We are no longer talking about a crisis or a third term. It will be more a question of discussing the organization of credible elections in 2020,” Wrote RFI in the article entitled “Burundi: discussions pour tenter de relancer le dialogue de sortie de crise”
But as the external opposition is afraid to travel to Arusha in Tanzania, considered Nkurunziza’s main ally, these last-chance talks are expected to take place in Entebbe, Uganda, under the supervision of Ugandan President Yoweri’s chief mediator.
The mediation has an interest to go very quickly according to observers, because Bujumbura continues to advance at its own pace.
After the adoption of a new constitution that buries the Arusha agreement, the presidential camp has just adopted its roadmap for the elections of 2020. And it is reforming the Independent Electoral Commission, still without the ‘opposition.