Sources within the Rwandan Defense Forces told AfroAmerica Network that Rwandan Military leaders have appointed two key former Burundian military leaders to lead the Burundi Desk within the Rwandan Defence Forces High Command. The two individuals cited by the sources are former Burundi president, Pierre Buyoya and a Rwandan-Burundian citizen, General Jean Bosco Kazura, the current Chief of Defence Staff of the Rwanda Defence Forces.
The worries come as the Rwandan President, General Paul Kagame, has expressed his intentions to work closely and amend the broken relations with the new Burundi government led by General Evariste Ndayishimiye.
In an interview with the Rwandan local media on July 10, 2020, Rwandan President General Paul Kagame said: “There is history that led to the bad relations between our two sister countries but we are ready to work with President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi to address those issues...
We have to turn the page on history. This has not been good for our two countries. This is the role of political leaders in fact, which is beneficial to the people of our two countries who must move freely without hindrance...
If President Ndayishimiye and his collaborators choose this right path, they will meet us in the middle of the road, so that we may walk together and consolidate our diplomatic relations; we reassure them that on our side, we will not constitute any obstacle. Our brotherly countries must resume trade and re-normalize friendships, which is our ideal"
The statements from the Rwandan President have raised eyebrows, as the Rwandan government did not send any official envoy to the burial ceremony of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza or the swearing-in ceremony of the current President General Evariste Ndayishimiye. (see AfroAmerica Network: General Evariste Ndayishimiye, sworn in as 10th President of Burundi and AfroAmerica Network : Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi President, passes away at 55 years.
Moreover, the leadership of Burundi Desk has added an additional question mark on the intentions of the Rwandan government and General Paul Kagame towards Burundi. According to sources close to the Burundi Government and the military leaders, they wonder how these relations can be amended when the Rwandan military is openly supporting and funding the Burundian rebels seeking to overthrow the new President General Evariste Ndayishimiye and his government.
Burundi Desk Within Rwandan Defense Forces Staff and Burundi Rebels
General Jean Bosco Kazura was born and raised in Burundi. He joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front during the 1990-1994 Rwandan civil war.
According to the AfroAmerica Network sources, the Burundi Desk Within Rwandan Defense Forces Staff is suspected of planning invasions of Burundi by Burundian armed rebels groups supported by Rwandan Military leaders. These armed opposition groups include some members of National Congress for Freedom (CNL) based in Rwanda, Popular Forces of Burundi (FPB), formerly known as Republican Forces of Burundi (FOREBU) , Resistance for the Rule of Law-Tabara (RED-Tabara) based in South-West Rwanda and South Kivu, in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD), based in Southern Rwanda.
According to several independent reports, including those from the United Nations Group of Experts, most of the fighters belonging to these groups were recruited in Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp starting in May-June 2015, given military training by individuals wearing Rwandan military uniforms and received Rwandan military logistical support and funding.
According to the sources within the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), the role of The Burundi Desk within the Rwandan Defense Staff is to coordinate the activities of these various groups.
Former President Buyoya is among those accused of being behind the 1993 assassination of the country's first elected Hutu president. The killing of Melchior Ndadaye triggered a bloody 12-year ethnic civil war, between the minority Tutsi-dominated army and mainly Hutu rebel groups, which led to more than 300,000 people dead. President Buyoya has consistently denied the accusations.
General Godefroid Niyombare, who led the May 2015 failed coup attempt against Nkurunziza and was previously claimed to be FOREBU leaders is also based in Rwanda. FOREBU was founded following the failed coup in 2015 and mostly included defectors from the Burundian military (see AfroAmerica Network: Burundi Up In Flames: Pierre Nkurunziza Confers With Paul Kagame). With the support from the Rwandan Military, FOREBU established itself in South Western Rwandan and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in December 2015. It recruited from Burundian refugees, particularly at the Lusenda refugee camp in South Kivu and Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda.
Alleged Repeated Fightings Between Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) and Forces from Burundi
On May 8, 2020, fightings between the advanced reconnaissance troops of the Burundi insurgency group and Rwandan special forces, on one side and the Burundian army, on the other, occurred on Lake Rweru, which borders Rwanda and Burundi.
A commander of the Brundian marine force unit was killed. During the fightings Rwandan troops were also shot, among whom 3 were allegedly killed by Burundian military troops.
On June 27, 2020, the Rwandan military claimed to have pushed back armed attacks by 100 unidentified gunmen from Burundian territory. According to Rwandan military spokesperson, the attacks targeted a displaced persons camp in Ruheru-Nyaruguru about one kilometre into Rwandan territory. The rwandan Defense Forces tweeted that "Four assailants killed, 3 captured and military equipment and dry rations marked "FORCE DE DEFENSE NATIONALE DU BURUNDI" were seized."
Burundian military did not confirm whether such an attack from Burundi ever occured. Independent observers and sources close to Burundi military told AfroAmerica Network that, the attack never happened and rather appeared staged, given the materials displayed, no longer used by the Burundian army.