The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda and Burundi have Tuesday met at the countries’ Nemba One Stop Border Post to discuss ways of restoring bilateral ties between the two countries.
Vincent Biruta and Amb. Albert Shingiro of Rwanda and Burundi respectively were flanked by their governments’ officials including intelligence officers
The two countries have been at loggerheads since 2015 when there was an attempted coup to overthrow the then President Pierre Nkuruziza.
Nkuruziza at the time said the coup plotters were backed by Kigali. Rwanda denied the allegations but relations between the two countries never stabilized.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Dr Vincent Biruta said Burundians and Rwandans are blood relatives.
“We would like to welcome you to Rwanda and to thank you for the decision to have this meeting for us to discuss, not only as neighbours but also as blood relatives, which is why we will speak in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, without anyone translating for us,”
Speaking at the ceremony Amb. Albert Shingiro said his government was looking forward to fruitful discussions and ‘less meetings’ as the two countries work towards faster and full restoration of ties.
“As the Government of Burundi, we came here to express our willingness to work towards restoring ties which were affected in 2015. We want to ensure that the issues that exist between our two countries are addressed so that we go back to existing as neighbours and relatives,” He said.
Following the election of President Evariste Ndayishimiye earlier this year, President Paul Kagame said that Rwanda was looking forward to working with the new government in Bujumbura to restore bilateral ties.
However, Ndayishimiye referred to the move by Kagame as “hypocritical”.
“We do not want to have such relations with a country that uses malice, a hypocritical country, which claims to want to restore good relations with Burundi, while placing a thorn under our feet,” Ndayishimiye said in Busoni, near Burundi’s northern border with Rwanda.
He said Burundian refugees in Rwanda were “being held hostage”, and accused the government there of harboring those behind a failed 2015 coup that plunged Burundi into violent chaos.
“If they really want to revive Burundi, let them hand these criminals over to us, so that we can judge them. Burundians will never be satisfied until those responsible for the 2015 crisis are punished,” said Ndayishimiye.
Burundi has long accused Rwanda of interfering in its affairs, and using refugee camps to train its enemies.
Burundi earlier this month opted out of the Goma mini-summit over Rwanda saying it wants to first iron out issues it had with some of the country’s taking part in the Summit including Rwanda.