CrisisWatch Rwanda

Deteriorated Situation

Three-way tussle with Burundi and DR Congo intensified as Gitega closed border with northern neighbour amid escalating rhetoric, while Rwandan army shot Congolese soldier dead. 

Burundi closed border with Rwanda as both sides escalated rhetoric. Burundian govt 11 Jan announced suspending relations and closing all borders with Rwanda over Kigali’s alleged support for RED-Tabara rebels; Rwandan govt immediately labelled move “unfortunate decision” that violates principles of East African Community regional bloc, which 12 Jan called for “peaceful settlement” of dispute. Burundian President Ndayishimiye 21 Jan said Rwandans are “prisoners of bad leaders”. Kigali next day denounced “inflammatory allegations aimed at sowing division among Rwandans”, and President Kagame 23 Jan vowed to “fight” to protect Rwanda. Burundian govt same day accused Rwanda of recruiting Burundian refugees in Rwanda to join RED-Tabara, and late Jan reportedly increased number of soldiers and ruling party youth wing (Imbonerakure) policing border with Rwanda (see Burundi). 

Tensions with DR Congo led to deadly border incident. Army 16 Jan announced capturing two Congolese soldiers after they crossed into Rwandan territory near Rubavu town, and shooting another dead as he tries to open fire on Rwandan forces; Congolese army next day claimed trio had crossed border “inadvertently” and said it had referred to Regional Joint Verification Mechanism for repatriation of soldier’s body and release of other two. Congolese President Tshisekedi 30 Jan reiterated claims that M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda, referred to Kigali as “aggressor” which “occupies a portion of our territory” (see DR Congo).

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