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Rwanda, Burundi Relations Improving, Officials Say

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Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Shingiro, has come out with disclosures that the current relation between Rwanda and Burundi is improving.

He made the remarks while addressing a meeting he held with diplomatic corps representing their countries in Burundi this week.

During the meeting that embarked on Burundi’s relations with other countries, the Minister emphasized that the relationship between Rwanda and Burundi is recovering despite earlier misunderstandings. “Every neighbor can be bad or good but for us, we have no bad neighbor,” he said.

He said, however, that Rwanda has a task to hand over the persons who attempted to oust late president Pierre Nkurunziza’s regime in 2015 in a failed coup that claimed about 100 lives in the country and sending over 217,000 people into exile.

He lauded the role of western countries in lifting the sanctions on Burundi such as the US. 

“What is left is to extradite the suspects who tried to topple Burundi’s leadership who are on Rwandan soil otherwise other steps have been taken,” Minister Shingiro said.

Close to 100 people were killed in Burundi’s capital, in response to attacks against military and government targets. Witnesses described seeing victims – some as young as 12 – shot execution-style with their hands tied behind their back.

General Godefroid Niyombare, who commanded Burundi’s 2015 failed coup, is among the most wanted by Burundi’s authorities despite the fact his whereabouts are unknown so far.

Burundi has been accusing Rwanda of harboring the senior military officers who attempted to oust the government in 2015.

Meanwhile, in July, Rwanda’s Premier Dr. Edouard Ngirente, was attended Burundi’s 59th Independence Day celebrations, a move that laid good ground to restore the damaged relations.

The U.N. refugee agency claims that chaos in Burundi was instigated by late President Pierre Nkurunziza who engaged in securing a controversial and unconstitutional third term, triggering violent protest, causing dozens of deaths and an exodus of over 217,000 Burundians who sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Of recent, Rwanda and Burundi have been exchanging rebels on both sides as a sign of improved relations among the two countries.

Eleven fighters from the National Liberation Front (FLN), a group founded by convicted Paul Rusesabagina were captured and handed over to Rwanda at Rwanda-Burundi border, Nemba. 

On another hand, Rwanda handed over 19 rebels of the Red Tabara rebel movement to Burundi after they were caught on Rwandan soil.

The rebels of each side claimed responsibility of attacks in respective countries.

According to United Nations’ COMTRADE, Rwanda exported goods worth only US$37.9 million to Burundi during 2019 due to frozen ties.

Both countries are members of East African Country (EAC), Economic Community of Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) among others.