Kagame to Burundi: Leave us out of your problems
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has distanced his Government from accusations that it had a role to play in the political challenges facing Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza.
According to him, there is no link between Rwanda and the absence of Burundi at the East African Community (EAC) summit that was to be held recently.
“Burundi has sought to give that impression, actually that they have no other problem apart from Rwanda,” he said in response to a question posed by journalists in Kigali as to why President Nkurunziza was conspicuously absent.
On November 30, three EAC Heads of State called off an annual summit after the Burundi leader failed to turn up.
There was also no representative sent to appear on his behalf.
Announcing the postponement of the meeting, EAC Chairman and Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said:
“We have postponed the meeting because one of the member States is not represented. Each member must be there for the summit to take place.”
At the meeting in Arusha, President Kagame was also absent but later explained that he had been attending a G20 summit in Argentina.
“Whenever there’s a reason one may not attend but countries attend through representatives,” he told journalists on Friday.
This was the second time in three years that the EAC summit was called off due to Burundi’s absence.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli had already turned up at the EAC headquarters alongside Museveni.
The tension between Rwanda and Burundi is widely perceived as what is fueling Nkurunziza’s discomfort.
However, President Kagame has rubbished the claim and insists the blame lies squarely on the neighboring East African nation.
“We have had all manner of provocation from Burundi but we have not fallen to that. That would be giving them what they want….what they are looking for….that their only problem is Rwanda,” he said.
In 2015, Burundi faced an attempted coup that forced President Nkurunziza to leave an EAC summit midway to attend to the emergency.
Bujumbura sources later claimed that Kigali had a hand in the attempt that followed Nkurunziza’s declaration that he would seek a third term in office.
He went ahead and vied for presidency.
He was declared the winner of the election, albeit controversially.
Nine years after Burundi was admitted into the EAC community, the strains between Kigali and Bujumbura have exposed the economic bloc’s sensitive bond.
Despite this, Mr. Kagame keenly defended Rwanda’s membership.
“For Rwanda to have joined EAC, it was our choice but also our right. It wasn’t anybody doing us a favour. We had not been kneeling down to people to give us this great favour for which people can keep pointing fingers at us,” he told journalists.
The Rwandan President was addressing the Press after the conclusion of a two-day National dialogue conference that sought to assess progress made in developing the East African country.
During the conference dubbed ‘National Umushyikirano Council’, government ministers were put to task to explain why resolutions passed during last year’s conference were yet to be implemented.
For more details on the National Umushyikirano Council watch Citizen TV this Saturday.
Report by Sam Gituku in Kigali
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