Burundi team pulls out of Kigali AU meet, cites security concerns

Wednesday July 20 2016
au delegates

Delegates at the AU summit in Kigali. A Burundi delegation suddenly pulled out of the African Union Summit in Kigali accusing Rwanda of failing to accord it security guarantees. CYRIL NDEGEYA

A Burundi delegation suddenly pulled out of the African Union Summit in Kigali accusing Rwanda of failing to accord it security guarantees and hit out at the AU for failing to address the countries problems.

A delegation of Burundian officials had arrived in Kigali Rwanda to attend the summit but left on July 13, two days after the meetings preceding the Heads of State Summit had begun. There were no reasons given and the matter was not discussed during the summit.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe said that Burundi’s delegation withdrew after it was not accorded ‘security guarantees’ and also due to the AU’s failure to address Burundi’s complaints on Rwanda.

Burundi and Rwanda remain at loggerheads over Bujumbura’s accusations that Kigali is backing rebels fighting President Nkurunziza, accusations Rwanda vehemently denies.

Burundi’s withdrawal was marred by the assassination of former Burundian minister and member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Hafsa Mossi who was gunned down by unknown people in Bujumbura.

Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo said on Tuesday that Burundi’s withdrawal was regrettable but said the Bujumbura is better positioned to explain why they left.


Very unfortunate

“It is very unfortunate that Burundi missed this very important summit. We are aware that a delegation from Burundi was there during the initial stages of the meeting but they went back. Up to now we don’t know the reasons behind that decision,”

President Pierre Nkurunziza was not among the 35 African leaders who attended the summit in Rwanda despite the Burundi crisis emerging among the topics discussed during the continental meet.

“We regret the fact that the African Union has kept silent on the complaints of the Burundian Government about Rwanda destabilising Burundi,” Mr Nyamitwe said.

AU chairperson Dlamini-Zuma further commended the efforts deployed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, East African Community Mediator, with the support of former President Mkapa Benjamin, to facilitate the ongoing Inter-Burundian Dialogue.

Mr Mkapa was in Kigali to brief Heads of States on the progress on peace talks, though little progress has been made in Arusha, with the government rejecting some parties involved in the talks.

Burundi’s Foreign Affair’s Minister reiterated that his country will not hold talks with “terrorists”.

The East African country remains unstable following President Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term last year, which was met by stiff resistance. The violence that followed has claimed more than 400 people while 250, 000 people have been displaced.