On January 11, 2024, the government of Burundi closed its borders with Rwanda after accusing its neighbour of funding the attacks by Red Tabara, a burundian militia allegedly founded, funded, and reinforced by Rwandan Defense Forces. The border closing comes as tensions between Rwanda on one side and DRC and Burundi, on the other, have been rising, with the possibility of a regional war including EAC and SADC countries.
Announcing the closing of the border, Burundian Internal Affairs Minister Martin Niteretse said while meeting with security officials in Kayanza province near the Rwandan border, “(Rwandan President) Paul Kagame is a bad neighbor ... We have suspended all relations with him until he comes to his senses and changes. He is harboring criminals who are destabilizing Burundi.”
He added that the Burundian government had started deporting Rwandan nationals who were on the Burundian territory. “All the borders are closed. We don’t need Rwandans here, and even those who were on our territory, we chased them out," he said.
Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame has denied being behind Red Tabara and Rwandan government has reacted to the border closing saying that it "regrets the unilateral closure of the border by Burundi", which it qualified as an "unfortunate decision".
However, the decision by the Burundian government appears to be a tip of an iceberg, given the worsening situation in the Great Lakes region, where major key players may be ready to confront the Rwandan government and leaders.
On Friday night, December 8, 2023, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi on a presidential campaign for his reelection, while addressing his supporters, directed his attacks against Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame. He compared him to the German NAZI leader Adolph Hitler and promised that he will make sure that Paul Kagame will have an end similar to Adolph Hitler's. Now, during his latest campaign stop in Kinshasa, Felix Tshisekedi has promised his supporters that, if elected, he will declare war against Paul Kagame and invade Rwanda all way to Kigali to overthrow Paul Kagame's regime. Now that his is elected, congolese and people in the region are waiting for the next action against the Rwandan government. (see DR Congo - Rwanda : After Comparing Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame to Hitler, DR Congo President Tshisekedi Promises Overthrowing His Regime If Reelected.).
On December 19, 2023, Kenyan Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen said Rwanda government is an autocracy with, unlike his country of Kenya, a government built on illegal processes.
On December 29, 2023, Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, following attacks by RED_Tabara, said that the RED-Tabara "are fed, sheltered, funded, hosted and maintained in terms of logistics and financial means by … Rwanda" and added that as long as Red Tabara rebels "have a country that provides them with uniforms, feeds them, protects them, shelters them, maintains them, we will have problems."
RED Tabara's attacks came as a result of the mounting tensions between Rwanda and Burundi as Burundian army increased support for FARDC (DRC’s armed forces), in the war against M23 rebels, a cover of the Rwandan defense forces. During the attacks Red Tabara, killed 20 people, mostly civilians, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Hence Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye later reinforced the decision of the Burundian government to continue to back the DRC in the war against militia groups, especially M23 rebels, a cover of the Rwandan military invasion of the DRC, according to the UN, US, European Union and other independent political analysts and non government organisations.
“We decided to be on the DRC side of DRC because the fire that consumes the DRC is the same fire that can burn us tomorrow,” said Evariste Ndayishimiye.
In the mid-term report published on December 30, 2023,the United Nations Group of Experts on DRC warned about the possibility of a regional war between Rwanda on one side and DRC and Burundi, on the other.
Red Tabara has admitted to carrying out the December attack, but claimed to have only focused on soldiers and police officers. However, witnesses and government officials rejected the claims by Red Tabara, saying that the attacks targeted unarmed civilians.
Red Tabara operates from DR Congo's South Kivu province bordering Burundi and is allegedly composed mostly by RDF soldiers and some Burundians who were involved in the 2015 coup attempt against the Burundian government.
It is not the first time that the border closing between Rwanda and Burundi happens. Following the 2015 military coup, allegedly supported by the Rwandan military, the Burundian government closed its border to Rwanda for more than seven years.
According to AfroAmerica sources in Burundi, the border closing may be more far reaching than that of 2015 and be a prelude of an upcoming open regional war.
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