President Paul Kagame has ruled out the possibility of being dragged into what he described as Burundi’s “provocations” after President Pierre Nkurunziza accused the Rwandan leader of aggression and destabilizing Burundi.
“We have had all kinds of provocation from Burundi and we have not fallen for that,” said Kagame at a media briefing in Kigali on Friday afternoon.
Nkurunziza recently wrote to the East African Community (EAC) Chairman, President Museveni, calling for a special sitting to discuss Rwanda’s alleged aggression.
“In addition to the fact that Rwanda has prepared and supervised the coup detat of 2015, the coup perpetrators and other criminals have taken up residence where they receive support to attack Burundi; crossing the Rwanda-Burundi border or via the East of Democratic Republic of Congo as well as getting them assistance and travel documents to enable them to circulate in the region and even in Europe,” said Nkurunziza.
President Museveni has since agreed to include Burundi’s grievances on the agenda of EAC Heads of State meeting in Arusha on December 27.
But addressing journalists after attending the annual National Dialogue, Kagame observed: “We have not been sucked into these provocations because that would be giving them what they want, to prove their point that they have no other problem except Rwanda.”
He, however, warned: “When it comes to us, our history, we don’t take any security challenge lightly. They say once bitten, twice shy. We have had our taste of it, we wouldn’t want to be found wanting in terms of taking care of our security. Big or small, we will take care of it.”
Dozens of Burundian army dissidents suspected of participating in military efforts to topple president Nkurunziza fled to Rwanda, saying the Burundian leader could not guarantee their security.
They further accused the Nkurunziza of overstaying in power and committing human rights abuses.
On his part, Nkurunziza says Rwanda continues to recruit Burundian fighters from refugee camps in Mahama to destabilize his country, a claim Kigali denies.
Meanwhile, Kagame did not have any kind words on the planned regional integration.
“Any integration effort requires give and take. Every country has its own sovereignty but when you choose integration, you understand that some of it will be ceded. People come together and create something that is bigger than just the sovereignty of each entity,” he observed.
“For Rwanda to join the East African community was our choice but it was also our right. It was not anyone doing us a favor. When we joined the EAC we had not been kneeling down, bowing to people to give us this great favor,” he added.