In June, 100 gunmen from Burundi attacked a Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) position 1 kilometer inside Rwanda (four gunmen were killed and three RDF troops injured). On August 26, the heads of military intelligence from Rwanda and Burundi met publicly for the first time since 2015 in an attempt to ease longstanding tensions over border security issues. The meeting, which was facilitated by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), ended with “promises to one another” but without an official agreement.

However, the first and second excerpted articles from the East African, a moderate newspaper based in Kenya that covers regional issues, see the meeting as an “olive branch” and a “move aimed at ending hostilities and a return to the good relations [Rwanda and Burundi] once shared.” The ICGLR will continue to monitor both sides to assess their respective willingness to “enforce the bargain.” The morning after the meeting, up to 500 refugees in Rwanda returned to Burundi following a separate repatriation deal coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with more expected to return at a future date.

Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and Burundi deteriorated sharply following the controversial re-election of then Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015, the third article explains. Rwandan president Paul Kagame criticized Nkurunziza for “doing little to stop the violence that was sparked by his presidential bid for a third term.” Since then, the two countries have frequently accused one another of supporting armed opposition groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. However, since Nkurunziza’s death in early June, experts (according to the East African article) assert that Burundi’s new president, Everiste Ndayishimiye, and Kagame now have an opportunity to “pursue better relations and improve trade and cross border movements.” Despite his status as a “ruling party diehard,” the article assesses that Ndayshimiye may decide to promote trade with Rwanda and other neighbors given the “bad economic situation” in Burundi and his “desire to create his own legacy.”

The meeting between the intelligence officials now serves as an olive branch and as a symbol of intentions by both countries to end the tensions….

Source: Ivan Mugisha, “Rwanda, Burundi army spy chiefs end talks, agree on border security.” The East African (Kenya), 27 August 2020. https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/rwandaburundi-army-spy-chiefs-agree-on-border-security-1926988

Rwanda and Burundi have negotiated a path towards enforcing security at their common border, a move aimed at ending longstanding hostilities and a return to the good relations they once shared.

However, no agreement was signed between the two countries, and the commitments they made remain as “promises to one another” that the ICGLR will continue to monitor to assess each party’s willingness to enforce the bargain.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, up to 500 Burundian refugees were facilitated to leave Rwanda for their home country, a move indicating renewed cooperation between the two neighbours.

Source: Ivan Mugisha, “Rwanda, Burundi military intelligence chiefs meet to quell tension.” The East African (Kenya), 26 August 2020. https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/rwanda-burundi-military-intelligencechiefs-meet-1926340

The two countries are striving to ease longstanding tensions that have affected security, trade and movement along their common border.

The meeting is facilitated by Col Leon Mahoungou of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, a regional military framework under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

For the first time since 2015, Rwandan and Burundian military officials have met publicly to discuss and find common ground on the longstanding tensions that have affected security, trade and movement along their border.

Relations between Rwanda and Burundi turned sour in 2015 when Rwandan President Paul Kagame criticized his counterpart, Pierre Nkurunziza, for doing little to stop the violence that was sparked by his presidential bid for a third term.

The meeting between the intelligence officials now serves as an olive branch
and as a symbol of intentions by both countries to end the tensions.

Source: Ivan Mugisha, “Window opens for Burundi and Rwanda relations after frosty spell.” The East African (Kenya). 13 June 2020. https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/window-opens-for-burundi-and-rwanda-relations-after-frosty-spell-1443108

Experts say that leaders from both countries now have a window to pursue better relations and improve trade and cross border movements, which have been adversely affected both by the tensions and the coronavirus pandemic.

The economic situation in the country has to change, and that cannot happen when politically the country is feuding with her immediate neighbour. The president-elect has to use this to his advantage and find a way to encourage regional trade and cross border movement,” Mr Gwet said.

However, political experts argue that although Nkurunziza’s likely successor is a ruling party diehard, the desire to create his own legacy could compel him to have better relations with Rwanda.

Hits: 0