Rwandan Government Fueling Flames in Burundi and Breaking International Conventions, Says Refugees International

Protests in Burundi against Pierre Nkurunziza seeking third term

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“We know that there are people who tell those lies in order to obtain special protection. I wanted to tell you that although these international NGOs operate in confidentiality we have the means to know everything you tell them. For public interest reasons we will convoke those people and ask them about their false statements. That’s why I ask all those who have lied to go back to those NGOs and change their statements, ” Rwandan Disaster Minister Seraphine Mukantabana  said on October 23, 2015, in a speech delivered to Burundian Refugees in camps inside Rwanda. She was threatening refugees after reports that Rwandan Security services were recruiting  Burundian refugees, including children,  funding, arming and training them with the purpose of launching military attacks back inside Burundi.  It is two of such attacks that led, over the week-end,  to 87 deaths, including 8 members of the Burundian security forces,  in the Capital Bujumbura, according to Burundian military spokesperson.


Based on a report by Refugees International, an NGO focusing in issues of refugees worldwide, "civilian and humanitarian character of asylum in Rwanda is being undermined. Specifically, refugees from Burundi claim they are being recruited into non-state armed groups as part of a systematic campaign involving both Burundian and Rwandan nationals. (see full report here)"  

The conflict in Burundi started earlier this year when, despite international warnings to African dictators against seeking to extend their reign by changing the constitution of their countries, the Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza decided to ignore the Burundian Constitution and run for a banned third term. He has chosen to become a dictator. The move baffled most of the observers of the Burundian politics, who pointed to how democracy was gained, after decades of bloody civil wars, massacres, and genocides. Pierre Nkurunziza was the first ever   democratically elected government of Burundi in its history, after hundreds of years of Tutsi minority rule that often resorted to genocide and mass murders  targeting the Hutu masses to maintain itself in power.  

The decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza dashed the hopes for democracy in that impoverished country. Since the announcement to run for the third term and then the controversial elections to rub stamp Pierre Nkurunziza's illegal third term,  Burundian citizens poured into the streets and have been protesting since. The police and the military  responded with lethal force, killing and arresting political leaders. Government sponsored mobs have also  attacked civilians and opposition leaders. Police and protesters  have clashed since then. At the same time, a growing insurgency, allegedly funded by the Government of Rwanda has increased momentum and Burundi has been slowing sliding into chaos and overt civil war.  

Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza's God Father Turned Brutus. 

In preparation for changing the constitution and as many Burundians (see our article: Burundi Up in Flames of April 29, 2015 here) , fearing for their lives started fleeing to Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza made several trips to the Southern Rwandan town of Butare.  There, according to sources close to the Rwandan Presidency, he met Rwandan President Paul Kagame. According to the same sources, Pierre Nkurunziza asked to meet Paul Kagame in order to inform him about  the situation in Burundi, get the Burundian refugees to be returned back, and seek advice on better ways to navigate the constitutional change. Paul Kagame promized to look into the issue of the Burundian refugees and advised Pierre Nkurunziza to ignore ciritics and run for a third term. 

However, after the meeting, Paul Kagame told his advisers that he has never met such a "stupid" head of state in his entire life. 

"Not sure whether it is the person [Pierre Nkurunziza] or it is genetics, but I cannot understand how some one leading a country can be such moron. Yesterday he was against us, allying himself with Jakaya Kikwete. Now, he is knocking at my door seeking advice !", Paul Kagame told his close aides, before adding: "He[Pierre Nkurunziza] is so stupid that he will not even know what hits him".

After the meeting, Paul Kagame called his closest aides and told them: "this is a golden opportunity. Chaos in Burundi means that we can do what we want, without being the target of the international pressure. The question is now: how do we take opportunity from the chaos  in Burundi and the stupidity of its leaders."

Among the risks identified were a civil war in Burundi and the potential for the intervention from Tanzania and a spillover to Rwanda. To avoid the such a scenario, it was convened to get ready for war, by first launching a media campaign and arming themselves. 

Paul Kagame himself is planning to change the Rwandan Constitution to allow himself to cling to power.

Paul Kagame's Plan to Fuel Civil War in Burundi, in Motion  

The report by Refugees International appears specific about the involvement of Rwandan Security services. According to the report: "In addition to the allegations of recruitment activities inside Mahama, international officials told RI they had received first- hand reports regarding the training of Burundian recruits in Rwanda and the movement of those recruits to the DRC. These officials told RI that a training site existed inside Nyungwe Forest National Park in southwest Rwanda, where hundreds of Burundian adult and child recruits (including girls) were reportedly housed.

These officials said they had received reports that the recruits – including the children – completed training in the use of weaponry. They also told RI that both Kirundi- and Kinyarwanda-speaking individuals reportedly conducted this training, and that some of the trainers wore military uniforms bearing Rwandan flag patches. The officials told RI of further reports that the Burundians were transported from the training site aboard military vehicles with Rwandan license plates, and that they subsequently entered the DRC using falsified Congolese electoral cards as identification."

As expected, Rwandan officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and  Refugees and Disaster Minister, Seraphine Mukantabana have denied or dismissed the allegations. 

Meanwhile, Burundi is descending into chaos and bloodshed, while the Burundian dictator Pierre Nkurunziza remains defiant.