World View: Burundi’s President Nkurunziza Says Rwanda No Longer a Partner but an Enemy

Burundi govt ready to take part in 'final' crisis talks: minister

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Burundi’s president Nkurunziza says Rwanda is no longer a partner but an enemy
  • Burundi orders the U.N. to close its human rights office there
  • Fears grow of a new Hutu-Tutsi war

Burundi’s president Nkurunziza says Rwanda is no longer a partner but an enemy

Pierre Nkurunziza and Paul Kagame (AFP)
Pierre Nkurunziza and Paul Kagame (AFP)

Centuries of tribal warfare between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in east Africa are once again threatening to return, as relations deteriorate between Burundi, led by Hutu President Pierre Nkurunziza, and Rwanda, led by Tutsi President Paul Kagame.

Two weeks ago, Nkurunziza wrote a letter to Uganda’s Tutsi president Yoweri Museveni, listing a series of accusations by Rwanda against Burundi, and asking for a meeting of the East African Community (EAC):

It is, therefore, very urgent for the East African Community to focus on the real problem that is jeopardizing peace and security throughout Burundi.

It is Rwanda, a state party to the treaty establishing the East African Community, which is not at its first attempt to destabilize its neighbor, Burundi, in violation of the fundamental principles of the community.

In short, Rwanda is the only country in the region that is one of the main destabilisers of my country and, therefore, I no longer consider it a partner country, but simply as an enemy country.

Nkurunziza is accusing Kagame of instigating an April 2015 coup attempt against him. The coup attempt was triggered when Nkurunziza refused to step down after announcing that he would seek a third term as president, not permitted under Burundi’s constitution. His announcement triggered protests and the police responded with bullets and tear gas, killing ten people in four days of violence between youthful Tutsi protesters and police. Continued clashes killed hundreds of people. ( “30-Apr-15 World View — 20,000 refugees flee violence in Burundi, fearing Hutu-Tutsi war”)

Museveni is the current president of the EAC, which has six members: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. It was formed in 2000 to improve relations among the member nations and particularly to prevent a repeat of something like the 1993-94 Hutu-Tutsi genocide in Burundi and Rwanda.

Museveni selected Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa to evaluate Nkurunziza’s accusations. Mkapa investigated and submitted a report that rejected Nkurunziza’s accusations against Kigali and recommended talks between Nkurunziza’s government and dissidents, including the alleged coup plotters.

Nkurunziza responded with a decree that no outsider should interfere in his country’s internal matters and that any such interference “would be to overthrow this institution elected by the people [of Burundi].”

Museveni then responded to Nkurunziza that he was manipulating the EAC and that “you use it when it suits you and discard it when it does not.” The Nation (Kenya, 14-Dec) and News 24 (South Africa) and AP

Burundi orders the U.N. to close its human rights office

A United Nations human rights report in September said that Burundi officials were committing crimes against humanity in 2017 and 2018.

“These crimes include murder, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and persecution on political grounds,” according to the report. Researchers believe that the Hutu government of Pierre Nkurunziza is specifically targeting Tutsis for the crimes. Tens of thousands of refugees, mostly Tutsis, have fled and are staying in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

The BBC has confirmed the worst of the accusations in its own investigations. According to the BBC, Burundi’s government was running secret detention houses to silence dissent. A video, widely shared on social media, showed blood flowing from the drain of a house in the capital city Bujumbura. An eyewitness said that the blood was from beheadings.

Early in December, Burundi ordered the United Nations Human Rights Council to leave the country. “All international staff must be redeployed immediately, and the Office has two months to pack its bags and close its doors permanently,” according to the order.

In October 2017, judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation into crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015. Burundi officials reacted by withdrawing from the ICC. Burundi was the first ever country to leave the ICC. Reuters (5-Sep) and “BBC and AFP (6-Dec) and Human Rights Watch (18-Jan)

Fears grow of a new Hutu-Tutsi war

The event overshadowing many countries in Africa, particularly in east Africa, is the 1994 Rwanda genocide, when ethnic Hutus slaughtered close to a million ethnic Tutsis in a period of about three months. The threat of a new Rwandan genocide has influenced policy in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Sudan, and discussions outside of Africa.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said a year ago said that Nkurunziza’s third term as president and his refusal to step down threatened a repeat of the 1994 genocide. “They should have learned the lesson of our history,” said Kagame.

Kagame’s criticism is laughable because Kagame himself, as well as Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, have all refused to step down after serving the maximum time permitted by the respective constitutions. This, of course, is similar to what we have seen in country after country in Africa.

However, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it is way too soon for another full-scale Hutu-Tutsi genocide. There are too many survivors still alive who remember the incredible horrors of the last genocide and they will prevent their children from letting things get out of hand. However, the resurgence of low-level and sporadic violence is occurring right on schedule in this generational Awakening era. Newsweek and Global Security

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, Hutu, Tutsi, Benjamin Mkapa, East African Community, EAC, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, International Criminal Court, ICC
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