Burundi says expulsion of Rwandan diplomat aimed at preserving relations

PERSONA NON GRATA: Desire Nyaruhirira

PERSONA NON GRATA: Desire Nyaruhirira

Contrary to widespread reports diplomatic ties between Rwanda and Burundi are deteriorating after Burundi expelled Desire Nyaruhirira, the advisor to the Rwandan ambassador  this week, authorities in Bujumbura say the move was actually a preventive measure to safeguard the relations.

In statement released Thursday, Philippe Nzobonariba the government spokesman, said every country has a set of rules and regulations guiding diplomats and that when and if that set of rules is breached action is taken accordingly.

“People must understand that there are norms and attitudes that any diplomat must comply with. So when one goes beyond what is allowed by some regulations, you ask the person concerned to leave early,” he said adding that the expulsion is a proactive decision reached purposely to prevent the relations from worsening.

Mr. Nzobonariba did not however divulge any details regarding the accusations levelled against the longtime serving diplomat at the Rwandan embassy saying all the details have been communicated to Nyaruhirira and his home country Rwanda.

“Such decisions are just diplomatic and discretionary clauses that cannot be displayed in the streets. The shortcomings are first notified to the concerned person and then to the country which sent them, but not to be publicized,” he said.

There have been reports in the media the expelled official was found with illegal weapons and was fueling insecurity in Burundi.

The government spokesman refuted any notion that the expulsion, and Burundi’s recent accusations that Rwanda is training rebels seeking to destabilize Burundi, signaled mounting tensions between Kigali and Bujumbura.

“There is no link between the recent accusations of Burundi agaigns Rwanda over hosting and assisting civil and military figures who mounted the recent failed coup and the expulsion of Desire Nyaruhirira,” said Government spokesman.

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame were once on good terms but the two leaders are not the best of allies lately.

Analysts say the current feud dates back to November 2012, when President Nkurunziza opposed then Rwanda backed-M23 rebel movement in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The love-hate relationship became public earlier this year when Rwandan president Paul Kagame appeared in public supporting protestors against President Nkurunziza and implying that the Burundi head of state had not delivered to his people and therefore he shouldn’t run for the third term.

After the May 13 failed coup, Burundi pointed a finger at Rwanda for aiding the coup attempt, and hosting its wanted mastermind renegade General Godefroid Niyombare, and his fellow coup plotters who tried to seize power in a failed military coup and are now trying to launch cross-border rebel attacks against Burundi.

Burundi accuses Rwanda of helping them in their motives but Rwanda has vehemently denied the accusations.

Both countries are members of the East African Community (EAC) along with Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. All these EAC states are yet to comment on the growing row which between their fellow members and regional neighbours.