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Burundi, Rwanda officials meet to restore bilateral ties

By Mwangi Maina | October 20th 2020 at 20:43:57 GMT +0300

Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vincent Biruta addresses Burundi and Rwanda delegations during Nemba-Gasenyi border point meeting on October 20, 2020. [Mwangi Maina, Standard]

The Foreign Affairs ministers from Rwanda and Burundi on Tuesday met at the Nemba-Gasenyi border point, in a mutual effort to normalise and regularise bilateral relations between the two neighbours.

The Burundian delegation led by Foreign affairs minister Amb Albert Shingiro met the Rwandan delegation led by Dr Vincent Biruta and underlined the need to continue their discussions to restore ties between Bujumbura and Kigali.

The meeting at Nemba border initiated by Burundi saw the two ministers engage in opening speeches before going for closed-door talks.

Shingiro thanked Rwanda for the warm welcome adding that his government was looking forward to expediting the process of mending relations though with ‘’fewer meetings’’.

‘’As the delegation from Burundi, we came here to express our willingness to work towards mending frosty relations. We want to ensure all issues affecting our two nations are fully addressed so that we can resume to co-existing together as neighbours and relatives,’’ said Amb Shingiro.

The former Permanent Representative of Burundi to the United Nations also said Bujumbura and Kigali need no mediator to broker any bilateral deal because they know and understand each other well.

On his part, Rwanda’s Biruta said he was happy to receive the Burundian delegation to Nemba and welcomed the idea of having engagements not just as neighbours but as relatives.

Burundi's Foreign Affairs Minister Amb Albert Shingiro during the meeting. [Mwangi Maina, Standard]

The Foreign Affairs Minister described the visit as a huge step to restoring the ties between the two fighting ‘’twins’’.

Dr Biruta affirmed that Kigali is ready to play its part towards restoring good ties between the two countries.

‘’I want to tell you that we are ready to have a fruitful engagement, and open a window to resolve the existing conflict between us,’’ he said.

The diplomatic meeting comes barely three months after President Paul Kagame while commenting on the frosty relations between the two countries, indicated that his government was ready to work with Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Though this is the first high-level diplomatic encounter between Bujumbura and Kigali since the fall out in 2015, high diplomatic sources cognizant with today’s engagement told Standard Digital, that the bilateral talks were held in a good and jovial atmosphere.

Relations between the two nations have not been at their best since 2015 under the regime of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza, Bujumbura accused Kigali of backing opposition and rebel groups that tried to depose Nkurunziza’s government. Kigali denied vehemently any involvement in the 2015 political crisis in Burundi.

In September, Bujumbura turned down an invitation to attend the Goma Heads of State peace summit that brought together Presidents Felix Tshisekedi, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame and João Lourenço of DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Angola respectively to engage on matters regional peace and security.

Burundi's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Standard Digital that, Bujumbura declined the invitation to participate in the Goma summit because they preferred to first conclude bilateral talks with some of the countries they have issues with in the Great Lakes region instead of engaging in a "photo opportunity".

Both Paul Kagame and his Burundian counterpart Evariste Ndayishimiye have expressed optimism to restore diplomatic relations between their countries.

Nemba-Gasenyi border point meeting Dr Vincent Biruta Amb Albert Shingiro
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