The Government of Rwanda described as “inflammatory and un-African” comments made by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye who blamed Rwanda for insecurity in the Great Lakes and called Rwandan youth “prisoners in the region.”
The development comes as the two countries’ relations have taken a hit, following allegations by Ndayishimiye that Rwanda supports Burundian armed groups.
While in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Saturday, January 21, Ndayishimiye said Rwandans needed to “start putting pressure on [their leaders] because I believe that young Rwandans cannot accept being prisoners in the region.”
Ndayishimiye, acting in his capacity as the African Union Champion for Youth, Peace and Security, in an event advertised under the banner of the continental organisation, “made several baseless and incendiary allegations aimed at inciting division among Rwandans, and further jeopardizing peace and security in the Great Lakes Region,” according to a statement released by the Office of Rwandan Government Spokesperson, on Monday, January 22.
“Rwandans have worked diligently to strengthen unity and foster the country’s development. Young Rwandans have embraced this opportunity, are taking ownership and actively contributing to building a brighter future for themselves.”
The statement continued: “For anyone to try and undermine this progress by calling on young Rwandans to overthrow their government is troubling. But for a leader of a neighbouring country to do so, from an African Union platform, is deeply irresponsible and a flagrant violation of the African Union Charter.”
Ndayishimiye’s comments came weeks after he accused Rwanda of harbouring and training members of a Burundian armed group based in RD Congo, which was followed by Burundi’s unilateral closure of the countries’ shared border.
Rwanda denied any links with any Burundian armed group and urged Burundian leaders to address issues through diplomatic channels.
Ndayishimiye joined DR Congo’s Tshisekedi in blaming Rwanda for the insecurity in eastern DR Congo. During his election campaign, Tshisekedi said if re-elected, he would declare war on Rwanda. In December 2022, he said Rwandans “needed” his “support to liberate themselves,” comments that analysts called an attack on Rwandan leaders.
“Rwanda has no interest in creating conflict with our neighbours. We will continue to work with partners in the region and beyond to foster stability and continued development,” the Rwandan government statement said.