Kigali, January 22, 2024 – The Government of Rwanda has voiced serious concerns regarding statements made by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye at a recent event in Kinshasa, DRC. These comments, made on January 21, 2024, have been characterized by Kigali as inflammatory and contrary to the spirit of African unity.
In his address as the African Union Champion for Youth, Peace and Security, President Ndayishimiye levied several accusations against Rwanda. These included claims of Rwandan interference in Burundian affairs and support for Burundian rebels. This has sparked significant debate and concern, given the delicate nature of relations in the Great Lakes Region.
The Rwandan government, in its response, emphasized its commitment to regional peace and unity. Authorities in Kigali highlighted the nation’s efforts in fostering national unity and involving its youth in the country’s development trajectory. The Rwandan leadership categorically denied the allegations, reiterating their dedication to peaceful coexistence with neighboring countries.
During his visit to the DRC for President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi’s second-term inauguration, President Ndayishimiye’s remarks at the Fleuve Hotel, addressing over 500 young Congolese and Burundians, were particularly pointed. He accused Rwanda of sabotaging Burundi’s security and supporting insurgent activities, charges that have yet to receive a formal response from Kigali.
In his speech, President Ndayishimiye detailed his administration’s efforts to negotiate with Rwanda, describing these attempts as frustrating and marred by what he perceived as Rwandan duplicity. He further urged the youth to remain united and vigilant against leadership failings, implying that Rwandan citizens are being adversely affected by their government’s actions.
The Rwandan response, while firm, also stressed a desire to maintain regional stability and collaborative development efforts. Kigali’s statement, however, did not directly address the specific allegations made by President Ndayishimiye.
This incident has reignited discussions about the historical tensions between Rwanda and Burundi. Notably, Rwanda has faced accusations of involvement in Burundi’s internal affairs, particularly following the failed coup against former Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015. The subsequent refuge of coup participants in Rwanda has been a point of contention, with claims of continued destabilization efforts from Kigali.