Kagame distances Rwanda from Burundi conflict

President Paul Kagame

President Paul Kagame

Rwandan president Paul Kagame has said his country will not accept to be victimized by false accusations from Burundi that Rwanda is fueling the crisis in its neighbouring country by training and arming refugees.

President Kagame made the remarks on Saturday while opening the 13th National Leadership Retreat, at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Eastern Rwanda.

The comments followed accusations by the Burundian government that Rwanda is behind the instability in the East African state which has forced over 200, 000 civilians into exile.

Rwanda has repeatedly dismissed and denied allegations that it is training Burundian refugees to topple the Burundi government.

Kagame’s sharp remarks also coincided with reports that the Burundian authorities arrested a Rwandan soldier on the Burundi –Tanzania border on an alleged mission to destabilize the conflict- wrecked state, a charge also denied by Rwanda. wreck

Burundi’s leaders have openly implicated Rwanda in the 11-month conflict and the United Nations and advocacy groups have issued reports validating Burundi’s concerns about Rwanda’s role.

The issue has over the last few months impacted the diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Several prominent Burundians have rejected the appointment of Rwandan born East African Community Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera as a member of the regional team that is mediating in the Burundi crisis, and thousands of Burundians have protested Rwanda’s alleged hand in the turmoil.

Bujumbura has also expelled an advisor to the Rwandan Ambassador to Burundi, Desire Nyaruhirira, as the sign of growing tensions between Kigali and Bujumbura.

“What this country has achieved is the result of the sweat of our people. Elites cannot keep abusing the sweat of our people. Rwanda will not accept to be victimized by false accusations from Burundi,” Kagame said.

Both President Kagame and Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo have in the past dismissed allegations of fueling the Burundian conflict as “childish” and baseless.

Despite efforts by regional leaders to push for dialogue in Burundi, Kagame has indicated the political impasse can only be tackled by leaders and the people of Burundi themselves and not by foreigners.

Addressing Rwandans and Burundians in the diaspora last month 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 of the reports that link his country to the instability in Burundi.