Burundi’s problems can only be resolved by Burundians, says Kagame

Kagame speaking to the Rwandan and Burundian Community in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Saturday February 27

Kagame speaking to the Rwandan and Burundian Communities in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Saturday February 27

Two days before East African Community leaders meet in Arusha, Tanzania at the heads of state summit on Burundi, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has said the country’s crisis can only be tackled by leaders and the people of Burundi themselves and not by foreigners.

Addressing Rwandans and Burundians in the diaspora Saturday February 27, in the American city of Boston, President Kagame underscored that “no people’s problems can solved by others, regardless of one’s capacity and influence, no one can go to Burundi and sort the problems of Burundians without them leading the effort to resolve their own issues.”

Kagame said foreigners can only play a secondary role in supporting Burundians to get solutions to their problems.

The Rwandan leader observed that the fact that the leaders in neighbouring Burundi deny there’s a serious problem in their country, and instead blame others (Rwanda) for their issues, complicates the crisis.

“We see the lies, insults everyday but they won’t affect us,” Kagame said referring to recent claims by the authorities in Burundi, advocacy groups that Rwanda is fueling the Burundi crisis by training and arming refugees.

President Kagame also lambasted the international community for “mocking” Burundians in stead of  genuinely trying to help them to solve their problems.

“They go to Burundi and tell them (Burundians) that there’s no problem in Burundi, they tell them the problem is Rwanda, tell them nice words, pose for pictures,” Kagame said in a veiled attack on the United Nations, African Union and US officials who have travelled to Burundi several times in the course of the current conflict in an effort to push for dialogue.

“Look at the visits by people from allover the world who have visited Burundi under pretense of trying to help, given the number of visits, the issue would have been solved by now,” President Kagame said adding “visits don’t solve problems, it’s up to the Burundians to agree to talk among themselves.”

Kagame further trained his criticism on the government and ruling party in Bujumbura for picking and choosing who to talk to saying given the nature of the problem “choosing” participants in the talks is detrimental to the entire dialogue effort.

President Pierre Nkurunziza, his ruling CNDD-FDD have rejected the idea of sitting down with members of the new opposition outfit in the diaspora, CNARED, citing their alleged role in the 2015 attempted coup.

Kagame’s rebuke echoes President Yoweri Museveni’s counsel to Burundian leaders in December 2015 that setting conditions prior to talking is not a good idea if the talks are to be successful.

“I really appeal to you, the two sides, to sit down and have a political solution so that you save the people from the suffering,” Museveni, the facilitator said at the December 28 2015 talks in the  Entebbe, Uganda adding “you have no excuse not to sit down and quickly resolve… these are clear things, you can meet one afternoon and agree.”

Despite efforts by regional leaders and pressure from the international community, Burundian leaders and stakeholders in the conflict have not resumed dialogue.

The conflict has thus far claimed about 500 people and thousands have fled to neighbouring countries particularly Rwanda and Tanzania.

Burundi leaders have accused Rwanda of recruiting and arming refugees in bid to overthrow a democratically elected government. And the UN and an advocacy group Refugees International have issued scathing reports pinning Burundi’s neighbor on the issue. Rwanda has dismissed these allegations as “childish” and unfounded.