Escalating Tensions Between Rwanda and Burundi in a Region under Strain

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The situation has taken a more serious turn following declarations made in Kinshasa by Evariste Ndayishimiye last Sunday, reiterating his accusations. This escalation of tensions contributes to worsening the crisis in the region, already marked by the conflict of the M23.

Tensions are intensifying between Kigali and Gitega as Burundian authorities decide to close their borders, accusing their Rwandan counterparts of harboring the headquarters of Burundian rebels, Red-Tabara. These allegations are categorically rejected by the Rwandan government.

In front of representatives of the Congolese youth, Evariste Ndayishimiye did not mince his words. He again accused Kigali of refusing to cooperate regarding the Red-Tabara rebels and labeled his Rwandan counterpart as “hypocritical” and a “liar.” “If someone lies to you once and twice, it’s their fault, but if they lie to you for the third time, the fault is yours,” he declared.

Moreover, he called for a broader dynamic: “Our struggle must continue until the Rwandan people also start feeling the pressure. I know that young Rwandans cannot accept being prisoners in the region.” He spoke of a project to organize a framework for exchanges for young people, causing irritation in Kigali, which sees it as an implicit call for the overthrow of the Rwandan government.

This escalation comes in an already tense context in the region. After Washington’s attempted mediation, Kinshasa and Kigali still maintain strained relations. The M23 rebellion remains active, causing the deterioration of ties between Paul Kagame and Félix Tshisekedi.

Meanwhile, Burundi and the DRC have signed a defense agreement, further strengthening their ties.

It remains to be seen how the East African Community will handle this rising tension in the region.

Rwandan Response

In Kigali, President Paul Kagame delivered a lengthy speech on Tuesday during the annual national dialogue, sounding a warning. Amid a diplomatic chill in the Great Lakes region, the head of state reaffirmed his commitment to the security of his country, as reported by our correspondent in the Rwandan capital, Lucie Mouillaud.

Rwanda is a safe country and will remain so, affirms Paul Kagame in a defensive speech: “When it comes to defending this country that has suffered for so long without anyone to help, I don’t need permission from anyone to do what is necessary to protect us.” He continues, “I have not responded to insults coming from the south, from the west. These do not kill. So I cannot (respond), it’s not our style. But they will learn over time. They will learn that they made a big mistake.”

In a statement, Kigali lamented on Monday the remarks of Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, which, according to Rwanda, were intended to “incite Rwandans to division.” In response, Burundian authorities on Tuesday refuted these allegations, accusing the Rwandan government of hosting the authors of the 2015 coup attempt.


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