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Tensions with DR Congo (DRC) ratcheted up as Rwandan military shot at Congolese fighter jet.
U.S. 4 Jan urged “Rwanda to cease all support to M23 and withdraw its troops from eastern DRC”. In apparent response, President Kagame 9 Jan told senators country would no longer accept refugees from DRC, claiming Rwanda had been “insulted and abused” despite hosting Congolese refugees for 20 years; govt next day however backtracked on position, saying “Rwanda has no intention to expel or ban refugees”. Kigali and Kinshasa throughout month accused other side of breaking ceasefire agreement in eastern DRC. Speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Congolese President Tshisekedi 17 Jan said “problem of insecurity in the Great Lakes region is called Rwanda”. President Kagame 27 Jan denied Rwandan support for M23, but claimed Rwanda had legitimate right to intervene in DR Congo to fight rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. Congolese army next day again accused Rwanda of invading DRC and also of planning massacres of Congolese Tutsis in order to justify incursions. Qatar-mediated talks between Kagame and Tshisekedi to follow up on 2022 Luanda agreement postponed 23 Jan after Tshisekedi reportedly pulled out. Meanwhile, Rwandan defence forces 24 Jan fired missile at Congolese fighter jet for allegedly violating Rwandan airspace, urging Kinshasa to “stop this aggression”. Congolese govt same day denied jet violated Rwandan airspace and called incident “act of war”. Rwandan troops 28 Jan reportedly clashed with DRC police on Ibindja Island of Lake Kivu (South Kivu province), with one Congolese policeman injured.
Kigali remained under international pressure to stop supporting M23 advances in eastern DR Congo.
Kigali and Kinshasa continued to trade accusations over eastern DR Congo crisis. During state of nation address, DR Congo (DRC) President Tshisekedi 10 Dec said country was victim of “unequivocal aggression by Rwanda”, denounced neighbouring country’s “expansionist tendencies”. In response, President Kagame 14 Dec said he “cannot be responsible for... Congolese of Rwandan descent in Congo who are being denied their rights as citizens”. After UN mission in DRC 7 Dec said M23 rebels late Nov allegedly killed 131 civilians in North Kivu province (see DR Congo), Rwandan govt 21 Dec accused Kinshasa of “fabricating” massacre. Kigali 28 Dec said Kinshasa violated its airspace by flying fighter jet over its territory.
International concerns over Rwandan support for M23 rose further. In call with Kagame, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 4 Dec reportedly said “Rwanda’s support for M23” must stop. In response, Rwanda’s FM Vincent Biruta next day accused U.S. of “exacerbating” crisis in eastern DRC. Blinken mid-Dec again called on Rwanda to “use its influence” on M23 rebels to de-escalate crisis. UN experts’ report dated 16 Dec found “substantial evidence” of Rwandan forces crossing into eastern Congo since Jan 2022, either to reinforce M23 rebels or to conduct military operations. Kigali denied accusations. French embassy in Kinshasa 19 Dec condemned Rwanda’s support for M23, while European Union 31 Dec called on Rwanda to stop supporting insurgents.
Authorities joined call for M23 rebels to halt fighting in eastern DR Congo (DRC) as regional efforts intensified to de-escalate tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa.
Regional leaders called for immediate ceasefire in eastern DRC. Congolese President Tshisekedi 3 Nov again denounced Kigali’s “expansionist impulses” in supporting M23 rebels. East African Community (EAC) 18 Nov said EAC peace process facilitator for DRC, former Kenyan President Kenyatta, and President Kagame had agreed on need for M23 to cease fire and withdraw from captured territories in DRC’s North Kivu province. During mini-summit on peace and security in eastern DRC held in Angola's capital Luanda, regional leaders including Congolese President Tshisekedi and Rwandan FM Vincent Biruta 23 Nov called for cessation of hostilities in eastern DRC starting 25 Nov; M23 in following days rejected call (see DR Congo).
Border incidents highlighted heightened tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa. As DRC forces continued to combat M23 rebels in eastern provinces, Congolese SU-25 fighter jet 7 Nov entered Rwandan airspace, landing briefly at Rubavu airport, Western province; Rwanda took no military action but accused Kinshasa of “provocation”. Rwandan troops 19 Nov killed Congolese soldier who had crossed border into Rwanda’s Rubavu district.
UN experts found “solid evidence” of Rwandan military intervention in DR Congo. In confidential report leaked to the media on 4 Aug, UN experts said there was “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have conducted military operations in eastern DR Congo in support of M23 rebels since Nov 2021. Kigali immediately denied accusations, while Kinshasa 5 Aug demanded Kigali take “responsibility for the instability” in eastern DR Congo. During visit to region, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 11 Aug met with President Kagame in capital Kigali and discussed “credible reports” indicating that Rwanda continues to support M23 rebels; Blinken same day said Kagame and Congolese President Tshisekedi had agreed to hold direct talks over fighting in eastern DR Congo.
Govt signed de-escalation agreement with DR Congo after two countries traded accusations of supporting rebels in Great Lakes region. President Kagame 6 July met with Congolese counterpart, President Tshisekedi, in Angola’s capital Luanda to discuss tensions amid M23 rebels’ offensive in DR Congo’s North Kivu province; both leaders agreed on de-escalation process, including “immediate cessation of hostilities” and “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of M23 rebels from eastern DRC. Rebels next day rejected move, claiming that only they can sign ceasefire agreement, and clashed with Congolese military in North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory. Congolese and Rwandan officials 20-22 July met again in Angola, called for quick deployment of East African Community regional force (agreed upon in June) in eastern DRC to combat M23 rebels; Kigali agreed to be excluded from regional force at Kinshasa’s request. Renewed clashes late July broke out between M23 and Congolese forces in Rutshuru (see Democratic Republic of Congo).
Kigali and Kinshasa continued to trade accusations of supporting rebels in Great Lakes region amid M23 armed group offensive in eastern DR Congo. Congolese President Tshisekedi 5 June said there was “no doubt” that Rwanda supported M23 rebellion active in eastern DR Congo, insisted he was still seeking peaceful relations with neighbour. Rwandan and Congolese govts 10 June accused each other of firing rockets across shared border; no casualty reported on Rwandan side. Kigali next day said Kinshasa had released and handed over two Rwandan soldiers captured in May. Rwandan forces 17 June killed one Congolese soldier who had crossed border and allegedly fired at Rwandan security forces. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 1 June called for diplomatic solution to rising Rwanda-DRC tensions (see DR Congo).
Tensions ran high as Kigali and Kinshasa accused each other of supporting rebels in Great Lakes region. Authorities 23 May said Congolese military same day injured several Rwandan civilians in cross-border shelling in Musanze district (north), called for “urgent investigation” into incident by Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism – group of military experts from International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Kinshasa 25 May accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels amid fighting between group and Congolese army in DR Congo’s North Kivu province (see DR Congo); Kigali next day denied claim. Congolese govt 28 May summoned Rwandan ambassador to Kinshasa, suspended all Rwandan national airline RwandAir flights to Congo. Congolese military 29 May claimed detaining two Rwandan soldiers in North Kivu; Kigali same day said Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels with support of Congolese army had kidnapped the two soldiers in border area; Congolese army immediately rejected claim. African Union (AU) chair, Senegalese President Macky Sall, 29 May called for dialogue between Rwanda and DR Congo. Meanwhile, Rwanda and Uganda mid-May signed agreement on military cooperation in bid to mend relations. Delegation of Rwandan soldiers and police officers 27 May travelled to Uganda to participate in 12th East African Community Armed Forces Field Training Exercise.
Relations with neighbouring countries remained tense. President Kagame 6 Sept said “there is still more to do” to improve relations with neighbouring Burundi and Uganda. Burundi govt mid-Sept set steep conditions for normalising relations with Kigali, including that Rwandan govt extradite suspected perpetrators of 2015 coup attempt against former Burundian President Nkurunziza and facilitate refugees’ returns. Meanwhile, group of 507 Burundian refugees in Rwanda 10 Sept returned home. After Rwandan Ambassador to DRC Vincent Karega in Aug denied Rwandan involvement in violence in eastern DRC during 1998-2003 war, around 100 Congolese civil society activists 4 Sept gathered in DRC capital Kinshasa calling for Karega’s expulsion; police dispersed them with tear gas, reportedly leaving two injured. Kagame 6 Sept accused demonstrators of “attacking the relationship of friendship and brotherhood between our two countries”, while DRC govt next day said Karega’s statement “is not likely to promote good relations between the DRC and Rwanda”. France’s top appeals court 30 Sept confirmed Rwandan genocide financier Félicien Kabuga will be handed over to UN tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania for trial.
President Kagame’s recent efforts to improve relations with neighbouring Burundi continued despite setback. After five Burundian refugees in Rwanda late July sent letter to Burundian President Ndayishimiye claiming Rwanda was preventing them from returning to their home country, Ndayishimiye 6 Aug said Burundi does not want relations with “hypocrite state” holding Burundian refugees hostage. Rwandan FM Vincent Biruta 12 Aug said govt is ready to facilitate refugee returns but Burundi is unwilling to mend ties. First group of 500 refugees 27 Aug returned to Burundi. Military intelligence chiefs from Rwanda and Burundi 26 Aug met at Nemba border post in Rwanda, agreed to cooperate on border security; first high-level meeting between neighbours since 2015.
President Kagame signalled willingness to improve relations with Burundi. Kagame 10 July said Rwandan govt is “ready to work” with new Burundi President Ndayishimiye to address issues that have strained bilateral relations over past five years. In France, Paris appeals court 3 July rejected request to reopen investigation into 1994 attack against Rwandan presidential plane, which sparked genocide of ethnic Tutsi minority; case which involved seven suspects close to Kagame had sparked tensions between French and Rwandan govt, with Kagame 2006-2009 cutting diplomatic relations. French investigative online media Mediapart 24 July located Rwandan genocide suspect Aloys Ntiwiragabo, under International Criminal Court arrest warrant for alleged role in 1994 genocide, in French city of Orléans; French anti-terrorism prosecutors next day opened preliminary investigation against him on charges of “crimes against humanity”.
Despite diplomatic overtures, Rwanda-Burundi relations remained tense. In reportedly his first public statements on Burundi since relations soured in 2015, President Kagame 6 June congratulated Burundi’s President-elect Ndayishimiye and 10 June offered condolences over death of incumbent President Nkurunziza. Relations between two countries however remained tense. Notably, Rwandan Defence Ministry 27 June said around 100 armed men from Burundi, some equipped with Burundian army material, attacked Rwandan Defence Forces in Ruheru sector near Burundian border; Burundi govt same day rejected accusation (see Burundi). Following arrest of Rwandan genocide financier Félicien Kabuga in France in May, French Court of Appeal 3 June ordered Kabuga to be transferred to UN tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania within 30 days.
Military clashed with Burundian forces at maritime border on Lake Rweru and French authorities arrested Rwandan genocide suspect Félicien Kabuga. Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) 8 May reportedly killed Burundian soldier during border clashes on Lake Rweru; defence ministry said RDF retaliated after they came under fire from Burundian soldiers while ordering Burundian fishermen who had crossed into Rwandan waters to return to Burundi. French police 16 May arrested Rwandan fugitive Félicien Kabuga, under international indictment since 1997 for alleged role in funding Hutu militias during 1994 genocide, near Paris. High Court Chamber for International Crimes in Nyanza town 28 May sentenced former politician Ladislas Ntaganzwa to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of crimes during 1994 genocide.
Pressure increased on govt over alleged military presence in neighbouring DR Congo (DRC); security forces faced allegations of abuses amid COVID-19 lockdown. Local authorities and civil society in eastern DRC’s North Kivu province 15 April condemned alleged rise in presence of Rwandan military forces there. President Kagame 27 April denied presence of govt forces in DRC and claimed instead that Burundian military were operating in DRC’s South Kivu province. Armed group Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) 27 April denied allegations of involvement in 24 April attack in Virunga national park in DRC’s North Kivu Province which left eighteen dead including thirteen park rangers; rebels accused Rwandan govt forces of attack. Military 4 April detained five soldiers suspected of physical and sexual violence against civilians while enforcing COVID-19 lockdown – in place since 22 March – in capital Kigali’s Nyarutarama district. NGO Human Rights Watch 24 April accused security forces of having “arbitrarily arrested scores of people”, including journalists, for allegedly violating lockdown.
Rwanda-Uganda tensions persisted after President Kagame and Ugandan President Museveni took steps to mend ties in Feb. Uganda in March expelled over 300 Rwandans for allegedly “spreading COVID-19” and Ugandan security forces 12 March arrested Ugandan presidential candidate and former security minister Henry Tumukunde on charges of treason for allegedly seeking to obtain support from Rwanda to remove current President Museveni from office. Defence and security officials 11 March met with counterparts from Burundi, DR Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Uganda in Goma, DRC, to assess information exchange mechanisms to help stabilise eastern DRC. Govt 22 March banned all “unnecessary movements” and closed all borders in attempt to combat spread of COVID-19.
President Kagame and Ugandan President Museveni took additional steps toward ending long-simmering tensions following Aug 2019 agreement to normalise relations. At summit facilitated by Angolan President Lourenço and DRC President Tshisekedi in Angolan capital Luanda, Kagame and Museveni 2 Feb pledged to release each other’s imprisoned nationals and to cease alleged support to non-state armed groups reportedly operating across their borders. Uganda 18 Feb released thirteen Rwandans detained on espionage charges and Rwanda next day dropped court proceedings against seventeen Ugandans. Uganda 20 Feb revoked Ugandan passport of prominent official of Rwandan opposition group in exile, Rwanda National Congress. Kagame and Museveni 21 Feb met at Gatuna-Katuna border crossing and signed extradition treaty providing legal framework to exchange prisoners guilty of “subversive activities” in each other’s territory; same day agreed on 30-day timeframe for Kampala to investigate and act on Kigali’s accusations that armed groups hostile to Rwanda operate from Uganda, paving way for border to reopen if request is fulfilled. In south near border with Burundi, authorities 13 Feb arrested popular singer and Kagame critic Kizito Mihigo accusing him of attempting to cross border into Burundi to join rebel groups fighting against govt. Authorities 17 Feb said Mihigo had committed suicide in his cell in capital Kigali. Human rights groups, U.S. and UK called for investigation.
Rwanda’s relations with its neighbours remained tense. After opposition members in DR Congo (DRC) late Dec-early Jan suggested Rwanda intended to annex territory in east DRC, FM 8 Jan described remarks as harmful for Rwanda-DRC relations. Amid strained Rwanda-Uganda relations, Uganda 8 Jan released nine Rwandans. In north near Ugandan border, security forces 18 Jan shot and killed one Ugandan and two Rwandans suspected of smuggling. Rwandan FM 8 Jan said Rwanda was prepared to engage in talks with Burundi to normalise diplomatic relations. Judicial authorities 23 Jan sentenced six members of unregistered opposition party FDU-Inkingi arrested in Sept 2017 to 7-12 years in prison for “threatening the security of the state”.
Rwanda’s relations with both Uganda and Burundi remained fraught. Rwandan and Ugandan officials 13 Dec met in Ugandan capital Kampala to hasten implementation of agreement govts signed in Aug aimed at normalising relations, but they failed to reach breakthrough over mutual allegations of destabilising actions, protection of rights and freedoms of each other’s citizens and resumption of cross-border trade. Ugandan President Museveni 29 Dec sent Uganda’s ambassador to UN to President Kagame as his special envoy in attempt to ease tensions. Burundian President Nkurunziza 6 Dec accused Rwanda of responsibility for mid-Nov attack on military post in Burundi. At Burundi’s request, regional bloc International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) deployed verification mission to Burundi and Rwanda to investigate attack. Congolese army 16 and 21 Dec repatriated to Rwanda 361 members of rebel group National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD).
Security incidents continued to strain Rwanda-Uganda and Rwanda-Burundi relations. In north east near Ugandan border, security forces 4 Nov shot and wounded Rwandan returning from Uganda and in Tabagwe, Nyagatare district 10 Nov shot dead two Ugandan nationals accused of smuggling tobacco into Rwanda. Ugandan govt 12 Nov sent protest note to govt condemning killing of its nationals. Ugandan authorities 25 Nov arrested 35 Rwandans for illegal entry into Uganda and 28 Nov deported 32. In south west near Burundian border, unidentified armed groups night of 7-8 Nov and 14 Nov reportedly crossed from Burundi into Rwanda and attacked military positions in Bweyeye district. Following deadly attack in Burundi mid-Nov by unidentified armed group, Burundian govt 28 Nov accused Rwandan army of attack and threatened to retaliate should Rwanda continue hostilities; govt denied accusation. President Kagame 14 Nov in parliament insinuated that neighbouring countries have been involved in sponsoring cross-border armed attacks against Rwanda. Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire 9 Nov announced creation of new opposition party Development and Liberty for All (DALFA-Umurinzi).
Violence briefly flared in north near DR Congo border leaving 33 dead. Armed assailants coming from strongholds of armed group Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) night of 4-5 Oct attacked Kinigi village in Musanze district in north leaving fourteen dead; security forces who pursued assailants killed nineteen attackers and captured five. Police arrested head of unregistered opposition party FDU-Inkingi, Victoire Ingabire, on suspicion of involvement in Kinigi attacks. Army chiefs of Rwanda, DR Congo (DRC), Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania 24-25 Oct met in DRC to discuss potential joint military operations against armed groups in eastern DRC. In Central African Republic (CAR), President Kagame and CAR President Touadéra 15 Oct signed agreements aimed at strengthening military and economic ties.
Rwanda and Uganda continued efforts to ease tensions. Following agreement late Aug to normalise relations, Uganda 14 Sept released 32 Rwandan detainees. Govt 16 Sept received high-level Ugandan delegation in capital Kigali to discuss implementation of agreement. Two unidentified assailants 23 Sept stabbed to death senior member of unregistered opposition party FDU-Inkingi, authorities arrested two people in connection with crime. Party leader next day said killing was attempt by govt to intimidate opposition.
President Kagame and Ugandan President Museveni signed agreement to normalise bilateral relations. Kagame and Museveni 21 Aug signed deal in Angolan capital Luanda agreeing to respect each other’s sovereignty, refrain from destabilising actions, respect rights and freedoms of other’s citizens and resume cross-border activities. Uganda 22 Aug blocked access to Rwandan news sites citing national security concerns, prompting Rwanda next day to block Ugandan news sites; Rwanda later that day said govts had agreed to restore access. Following 31 July Ebola-related death in DR Congo near Rwandan border, Rwanda reportedly briefly closed border next day; Rwanda denied closure.
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda remained tense despite steps to improve relations. Rwandan President Kagame 3 July received Ugandan FM in Rwandan capital Kigali. Following 12 July summit between presidents of Rwanda, Uganda, DR Congo and Angola in Angolan capital Luanda, heads of state appointed Angola as mediator between Uganda and Rwanda with support of DR Congo. Ugandan security forces 23 July arrested at least 40 Rwandans reportedly on suspicion of espionage in Ugandan capital Kampala.
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda persisted. Ugandan govt said that Rwandan security forces blocked some 200 Rwandan citizens from crossing into Uganda to attend religious festival 3 June. Rwanda 10 June reopened Katuna border crossing with Uganda for heavy cargo trucks for two weeks. Despite temporary opening, cross-border movement continued to face restrictions. Uganda 12 June reportedly deported twenty Rwandans.
Relations between Rwanda and Uganda continued to fray. Rwandan soldiers 24 May crossed into Uganda in pursuit of suspected smuggler, and shot dead one Rwandan and one Ugandan. Ugandan authorities 28 May arrested two Rwandans for allegedly entering country to gather intelligence.
Relations between Rwanda and Uganda remained tense as Ugandan security forces continued crackdown on Rwandans. In western Uganda, following 2 April kidnapping of U.S. citizen and Ugandan tour guide in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Ugandan authorities 4 April arrested over 40 Rwandans near park for being in country without necessary papers. After Rwanda late Feb restricted travel across two of three principal border crossings with Uganda (Gatuna and Cyanika), Rwanda relaxed restrictions at Gatuna, allowing Rwandans to enter Uganda during daytime, returning before end of day.
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda continued to rise after Rwanda restricted trade across shared border late Feb, closing two of three principal border crossings, at Katuna and Cyanika. FM Sezibera 14 March denied Uganda’s accusations that Rwanda had blocked exports from Uganda and established permit system for Rwandan traders exporting to Uganda; he reiterated that Uganda still needed to address its harassment of Rwandan citizens in Uganda through arbitrary arrests and irregular deportations, and its harbouring of Rwandan dissidents. A dozen bodies found late Feb on Burundian side of Lake Rweru that separates Burundi and Rwanda; local Burundian authorities said bodies had floated down river that comes from Rwanda, Rwanda denied responsibility.
Tensions rose between Rwanda and Uganda. After Ugandan govt deported senior employee of telecoms company MTN in Jan, countries continued to exchange mutual accusations of spying. Govt 27 Feb closed Katuna border crossing on Ugandan border for cargo trucks, and 28 Feb for private individuals in both directions; Revenue Authority 28 Feb said closure due to upgrading of border post, but Uganda questioned Rwanda’s motive and called on authorities to allow people to cross border.
DR Congo 28 Jan said it had extradited to Rwanda two members of DRC-based Rwandan rebel group Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR).
Army clashed with Congo-based rebels in north west as tensions between govt and neighbouring Burundi continued to mount. Officials reported clashes in Rubavu district in north west bordering DR Congo between army and suspected members of rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who crossed into country from DR Congo; army said it repelled suspected rebels 9 Dec, killing four; President Kagame 14 Dec said at least two soldiers and unknown number of rebels killed. Burundian President Nkurunziza 4 Dec wrote to East African Community President and Ugandan President Museveni demanding extraordinary summit to find solution to “open conflict between Burundi and Rwanda”. In south, unidentified assailants 15 Dec set fire to three vehicles in Nyamagabe district which borders Burundi, killing at least two civilians; Rwandan army said it pursued attackers into forest bordering Burundi.
Tensions rose between Rwanda and Burundi following several cross-border attacks in south: unidentified armed group from Burundi 1 July raided Cyamuzi village in southern Rwanda near Burundi border, attack follows two similar raids in June; Rwandan President Kagame 13 July asserted army’s readiness to fight off any attack.
Army 15 Feb said it had killed three Congolese soldiers during 13 Feb skirmish along shared border; both sides blamed each other for instigating clash. Police 23 Feb said they had killed five Congolese refugees since 20 Feb during protests by refugees against UN’s cuts in food rations in Kiziba refugee camp in west; UN 26 Feb said police had killed eleven refugees and urged govt investigation.
Police 17 Aug shot dead one suspected terrorist in Kigali and 19 Aug killed three more and arrested three others in Bugarama, Rusizi district.
UN experts’ report leaked 13 May claimed govt continues to support Burundian rebels seeking to oust Burundian President Nkurunziza, following UN experts’ similar accusation in Feb. President Kagame denied allegations. Burundian officials 16 May said Rwandan govt had expelled over 1,300 Burundians including refugees and long-time residents; Kigali said expulsions part of crackdown on illegal residents, not Burundians specifically.
Over a dozen armed men in DR Congo military uniforms 23 March entered Rwanda from DRC, attacked army base in Rubavu district, one attacker killed. Former Rwandan minister, arrested Dec 2015 in Burundi for spying, died suddenly in Bujumbura prison 31 March (see Burundi).
UN group of experts report leaked early month cites evidence of Rwandan military recruiting and training Burundian refugees to oust Burundian President Nkurunziza. U.S. envoy for Great Lakes region 11 Feb echoed report; President Kagame and FM Louise Mushikiwabo denounced allegations.
U.S. 2 Jan expressed disappointment at President Kagame’s third term bid; opposition Green Party said Kagame has violated democratic principles. Burundi President Nkurunziza 22 Jan in meeting with UNSC envoys accused Rwanda of supporting rebels and arming Burundian refugees in Rwanda; which Rwanda has denied. Police 25 Jan shot and killed deputy imam suspected of recruiting for Islamic State (IS), 30 Jan arrested people with suspected links to IS.
Referendum on constitutional amendment that would allow President Kagame to run for third term held 18 Dec; large majority voted in favour of amendment, with electoral commission reporting 98% of voters supported the change; EU and U.S. condemned vote.
Senate 17 Nov adopted draft constitution allowing incumbent President Kagame to run again for president should he wish; U.S. expressed concern, warned of consequences in bilateral relations should Kagame stay. Tensions with Burundi increased after Kagame 6 Nov accused Burundian authorities of “slaughter” (see Burundi).
Parliament’s lower house 29 Oct approved draft amendments to constitution reducing presidential term from seven to five years, with limit of two terms, but voted to make exception for President Kagame should he choose to run again.
Govt 11 Sept appointed commission to work on constitutional reform, including modifications to remove presidential term limit, in move criticised by U.S., UK. Supreme Court 9 Sept accepted opposition Green Party’s request to examine constitutionality of such modifications.
Lawmakers 10 Aug reported only ten participants in national consultations opposed amending constitution to allow President Kagame’s third term bid, next day agreed to organise constitutional reform.
Both houses of parliament 14 July supported constitutional change to allow President Kagame’s bid for third term; govt 20 July announced national consultation on amending constitution to be held until Aug 11.
Ruling RPF 15 June endorsed constitutional amendment that would allow President Kagame to run for third term; opposition Democratic Green Party 3 June petitioned Supreme Court to prevent amendment. Intelligence chief Karensi Karake arrested in UK 23 June, wanted in Spain for war crimes; AU Peace and Security Council demanded immediate release.
Govt condemned Burundi unrest and tightened border security amid concerns over intensifying refugee crisis; President Kagame 8 May urged President Nkurunziza to step down. Growing support for Kagame’s possible run for third term: parliament 27 May said it will debate amending constitution accordingly in coming months, following petitions signed by some 2mn citizens.
President Kagamé 13 April met Burundi President Nkurunziza to discuss Burundi’s pre-election tensions, Burundians fleeing to Rwanda, regional security and co-operation. Authorities late month granted refugee status to over 11,000 Burundians, set up additional refugee facilities following escalation of violence in Burundi (see Burundi).
Court 12 March handed eleven people jail sentences ranging from ten years to life, for conspiring with DRC FDLR rebels to oust President Kagame.
DRC and Rwandan officials 3 Feb met to accelerate repatriation of 718 former M23 rebels to DRC, no specific agenda agreed. Defence Minister early-Feb criticised UN Force Intervention Brigade troop-contributing countries South Africa and Tanzania for lack of intervention against FDLR, accused latter of collaborating with rebel group. FM Mushikiwabo 12 Feb criticised MONUSCO’s inaction on FDLR issue.
Following visit by Belgian FM and cooperation minister, FM Louise Mushikiwabo 8 Jan announced “permanent political dialogue” between Kigali and Brussels. President Kagame 15 Jan criticised MONUSCO and DRC govt for not tackling FDLR rebels (see DRC).
NGO Committee to Protect Journalists 8 Dec released critical report on freedom of speech and ongoing censorship. Govt requested investigation from International Conference of the Great Lakes Region on reported rocket fire from DRC to Rwanda’s Rubavu district 9 Dec. ICTR concluded proceedings, closed 31 Dec.
Two Rwandan League of Human Rights (LIPRODHOR) members arrested 21 Nov in Kigali, accused of forgery. New witness in former President Habyarimana 1994 plane crash case reportedly abducted 13 Nov.
First political debate held 14 Oct on potential revision of Rwandan constitution; proposed amendment would allow President Kagame to run for third term.
Repression continued, including among Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) high ranks: former Protocol Director to President Rose Kabuye, former Permanent Secretary Mary Baine, former Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands Immaculée Uwanyirigira publicly accused early Sept of conspiring against RPF. Senate President Jean-Damascène Ntawukuliryayo 17 Sept resigned after allegations of mismanagement raised in petition from 15 senators. Manzi Byabagamba, brother of recently arrested Colonel Tom Byabagamba and brother-in-law of recently arrested Frank Rusagara, arrested 20 Sept with 8-month pregnant wife and son on undisclosed charges.