Burundi-Rwanda political tensions continue

By Gildas Yihundimpundu Time of article published Jun 13, 2016

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Bujumbura - Political tensions between Burundi and Rwanda continue to rise as the Rwandan government expels more Burundians.

Since Wednesday, Kigali has expelled at least 387 Burundians allegedly living in Rwanda illegally.

Of these, 201 arrived in Kirundo province, which borders Rwanda, on Friday evening while another 175 had arrived in Burundi on Thursday and a further 11 on Wednesday.

Some of the expelled Burundians said Rwandan authorities had accused them of spying for Burundi.

However, the Rwandan government has been telling journalists that they were all expelled because they were not legal refugees.

“They had no documents allowing them to live in Rwanda,” they said.

The Burundian authorities said all those expelled had been received in Burundi.

“They have already been installed in their families,” said the governor of Kirundo province Melchior Nankwahomba.

This was not the first batch of Burundians expelled from Rwanda. Several hundred were expelled last month.

And this week Burundi began to retaliate.

On Tuesday it expelled six Rwandans who had been living in Cankunzo province in eastern Burundi for many years.

Like the Rwandan authorities, the Burundi aviation and border police told journalists that all six Rwandan citizens had been expelled because they had no documents allowing them to live in Burundi.

However, other sources told ANA that “all the six were born in Burundi and two of them were teachers in public schools in Cankuzo province, a job which only can be given to nationals or those who are allowed to live in Burundi”.

Not everyone believes the official explanations given by the Burundian and Rwandan authorities for the expulsions. Many see other reasons. “Both countries fear infiltrations,” an independent source in Rwanda said.

According to sources close to the ruling party in eastern Burundi, “the six Rwandan people were accused of spying on Burundi on Rwanda’s behalf”. But government officials did not confirm this.

Last month, Rwanda expelled more than 1400 Burundians, ostensibly for the same reason that they were not authorised to live in the country.

At the time, Burundi’s Interior Minister Pascal Barandagiye, who was dispatched by the government of Burundi to receive them, accused Rwanda of being a bad neighbour.

The background to the tit-for-tat expulsions is that Burundi has accused Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees to topple Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has rejected the accusations, calling them “childish”.

However, the United Nations has also said it believes that Rwanda has recruited refugees from Burundi to oust Nkurunziza.

Since October last year, armed groups still destabilise some areas of the country even though Burundian authorities keep saying that there is total stability and peace in the country.

Armed groups in Burundi’s southern provinces of Bururi, Mwaro, Bujumbura, and Rumonge have until June 15 to accept Nkurunziza’s ultimatum to surrender or be pursued more vigorously.

Three people were killed on Wednesday by an unidentified armed group in Bururi province (Mugamba region). At the beginning of the week, a Burundi army colonel was injured in an attack carried out by unknown persons against his car in the capital Bujumbura when he was going home.

– African News Agency

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