Rwanda, Burundi relations thaw

Saturday February 12 2022
Rwanda-Burundi relations

After several years of animosity, Rwanda and Burundi are charting a path to renewed cordial relations. PHOTO | FILE


Rwandan President Paul Kagame has given hope for further normalisation of relations between Kigali and Bujumbura, after he praised the progress between the two countries in mending ties that had deteriorated since 2015.

While officiating the swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed Rwandan ministers at parliament in Kigali, President Kagame said they had agreed to meet frequently to mend relations.

“The Burundi president sent envoys bringing a message to me. We all want to continue this path to build the relations between the two countries. I want to say that there is satisfying progress made,” he said.

Last month, a delegation led by Burundi’s Minister for East African Community Affairs Ezechiel Nibigira was received by President Kagame in Urugwiro, Rwanda’s State House).

Relations between the two countries came to an all-time low in 2015 when a political crisis erupted in Bujumbura, as then president Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term and faced a coup attempt.

Burundi accused Rwanda of having played a role in the May 2015 failed coup to oust Mr Nkurunziza, and Kigali in return accused Bujumbura of sheltering the FDLR, accused of committing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and who were still seen as an active threat.


However, since Burundian President Evariste Ndayihsimiye took over the office in 2020, the relations between the two countries have improved significantly.

High level delegations from both Burundi and Rwanda, including intelligence chiefs, governors and other senior government officials, have met several times. The meetings have led to repatriation of refugees to Burundi as the security situation improved.

“All the causes of insecurity between the borders in Kibira and Nyungwe where there are armed men who attack Rwanda and disappear in Kibira... we are in discussion with Burundi so that we resolve this permanently and those behind it will face consequences,” said President Kagame.

In July last year, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente visited Bujumbura for the Independence Day celebration. This was the first time a high profile official from Rwanda travelled to Burundi since 2015.

Last year, positive steps were taken towards strengthening peace and security in the region, as Burundi made efforts to help Rwanda, when terrorists who were preparing to attack Kigali were arrested and were handed over to the authorities twice.

Rwanda reciprocated in July last year when it handed over 19 armed men to Burundi. The men had conducted an attack in Burundi and fled to Rwanda in 2021.