The President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza says the Rwandan government deliberately seeks to destabilize countries neighbouring Rwanda and has since 2014 been supporting armed groups against these countries, including Burundi.
Nkurunziza made the remarks while delivering his end of year address in the capital, Bujumbura.
He said authorities in Burundi continue to stop several trucks from Rwanda transporting weapons to Burundi and that they have thousands of weapons and fighters from Rwanda whom they have all presented to the local and international community.
Last month, Rwanda carried out an attack on military positions of the Burundian army located on the Twinyoni mountain in Marura, Mabayi, Cibitoke Province Northwest of the country, killing an unidentified number of Burundian soldiers as well as injuring dozens.
Burundi would later through her minister of foreign affairs, Ezechiel Nibigira condemn the attack and called upon regional and international bodies to reign in on Kigali.
However, Nkurunziza says they not only have evidence of last month’s attacks by Rwanda, but many of them dating back from 2015.
“We are not militarily attacked by the army of Rwanda, but we are militarily attacked by Rwanda. It is Rwanda’s government policy of constantly destabilising the region. Since 2015, Rwanda government has been sending fighters to militarily attack Burundi, Nkurunziza said
“We have apprehended very many fighters on the battlefield and they have told us how they were recruited, trained and armed by Rwanda’s regime. We don’t only have evidences for the October or November attacks, our evidences date back to 2015,” he added.
Rwanda is reported to have approached DR Congo’s President Félix Tshisekedi to allow Rwanda Defence Forces inside the Congolese territory under the guise of fighting Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels and other armed groups said to be hiding in the jungles of the mineral-rich country.
However, the Rwandan forces have severally been accused of killing indigenous Congolese and provoking the ongoing unrest in Eastern DR Congo.
Nkurunziza says, Rwanda now uses the opportunity to train and arm the rebels and then send them to attack Burundi and other countries in the region through the DRC.
“After being recruited, trained and armed by Rwanda, the armed groups are briefed on how to attack Burundi through DR Congo. We have all the proofs and we have represented them to regional leaders and international community. It may take time, but Rwanda’s leadership will one day pay for the crimes, yes, time is key in everything, but justice will one day prevail,” explained Nkurunziza.
Burundi affirms that Rwanda was behind the attack on Kabarore on July 10, 2015 and that the failed attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza on 13 May 2015.
Burundi says the perpetrators of the aborted coup like general Godefroid Niyombare and many other opposition leaders who may have played a direct or indirect role in the coup plot enjoy shelter provided by Rwandan authorities.
In the letter condemning Rwanda’s November attacks on Burundi, Minister Nibigira revealed that after the 2015 attack and failed coup, Burundi requested ICGLR (International Conference for the Great Lakes Region) Secretariat to activate The Joint Extended Verification Memorandum (JEVM).
This would be for the purpose of clarifying the facts, especially where the combatants were trained, identifying their recruitment network, their trainers or instructors, those who equip them and the way of transporting this equipment, the supporters and sponsors as well as their aims and report to the competent authorities.
Burundi believes the attackers benefitted from a logistical and material support of the Rwandan Defense Forces.
When ICGLR received Burundi’s request, it dispatched a commission in both countries to investigate the allegations of Rwanda’s meddling into Burundi’s internal affairs but President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and his government refused to receive the commission after their work in Burundi,” Nibigira said.
“Rwanda has always instead reciprocated accusations against Burundi saying that Burundian authorities have given support to a Rwandan rebel group operating along the border in the Nyungwe forest,” he added.
He however says that at the end of the verification mission in Burundi, JEVM concluded that Rwanda’s allegations against Burundi were unfounded.
“Unfortunately Rwanda refused to allow the same investigations to be carried out on its territory to verify military training and armament of young Burundians taken hostage at the Mahama refugees camp,” he adds.
The development comes when Rwanda continues to fail all the efforts put forward to put to an end the frosty relations between them and Uganda which broke out in February this year. At the moment Rwanda doesn’t allow her nationals to cross to Uganda.
It also maintains number of allegations against Uganda including illegally incarcerating and deporting her citizens as well as supporting armed groups against Kigali which they have since failed to prove.
Rwanda refused to implement provisions that required immediate action in the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding including immediately allowing the cross-border movement of people and goods. They also shunned the second meeting of the Ad-hoc Commission on the Luanda MoU which had been scheduled for November 18 in Kampala and the country’s government officials have maintained propaganda against Uganda on social media.
Rwanda’s lack of commitment to regional peace would again be manifested in the second meeting of the Ad-hoc Commission on the Luanda MoU when it was finally held in Kampala mid this month, when they refused the idea of putting in place a neutral verification team to verify the accusations both countries raised against each other.