KIGALI, 29 December 2020 – Rwandan authorities have reiterated their unwillingness to deport to Burundi individuals accused by Bujumbura of plotting a 2015 coup d’Etat.
The alleged coup was intended to oust former Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Burundi and Rwanda have seen a great deterioration in their diplomatic relations since Kigali refused to deport the individuals.
Former Burundian President Nkurunziza, who died of coronavirus last June disagreed with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda on whether these individuals were criminals or refugees.
Kigali has said the individuals – whose names have never been disclosed – are refugees, protected against rendition under international law.
“We would be breaching international law,” Rwanda’s State Minister for the East African Community (EAC) Manasseh Nshuti, told The East African newspaper.
He explained that Rwanda was not doing anything to Burundi that the latter was not doing to Rwanda.
Burundi also has our refugees, added Nshuti, “but we are not asking them back. No government should be able to do that unless the person is not a refugee but is a criminal”.
In May 2015 while Nkurunziza was in Tanzania attending a summit of the EAC, Burundian army general Godefroid Niyombare reportedly attempted but failed to depose him.
Many soldiers who were allegedly involved with Niyombare or are suspected of playing a part in the foiled coup fled Burundi into neighboring Rwanda and other surrounding countries.
Rwanda committed to send the fleeing individuals to a third country, “far away from Burundi”.
Nshuti added that the individuals in question “are not using Rwanda as a base to attack Burundi”.
Last month, Jean Claude Karerwa, a spokesperson for the Burundian Presidency told a press conference that Bujumbura will continue to pressure the international community “to convince Rwanda to respect international laws” by deporting the individuals to Burundi.