Is Rwanda Meddling in Burundi?

Interesting allegations regarding recent unrest in Burundi emerged from Charles Kambanda’s Facebook page this week. I have summarized Kambanda’s posts in the following paragraphs, as they reflect on a region that many American Anglicans have ties with.

Kambanda alleges that according to intelligence reports from Burundi there was a plan to assassinate the Hutu president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza. A couple weeks ago, the world would have awoken to the news of President Nkurunziza’s assassination. Ugandan and Rwandan bosses hatched this plan. Rwandan bosses would immediately have started butchering the Tutsi in Burundi and blamed it on the Hutu. These same Rwandan bosses would then declare that Rwandan troops had moved in to Burundi to stop a genocide. The plan from Kigali was to appoint the now fired Tutsi Vice President of Burundi to lead the country through an indefinite “transitional period.” This would have equated to Rwandan and Ugandan leadership ruling Burundi.

What did President Nkurunziza do to provoke this alleged plot? Kambanda says that Nkurunziza allowed Tanzanian forces to use Bujumbura as a base to smoke Kagame out of the DRC. Nkurunziza is also accused of passing sensitive intelligence information to South African and Tanzanian troops that was important for their military campaign against M23. It is also believed that some influential Tutsi in Burundi support the Rwandan National Congress (RNC). Kigali bosses want a chance to eliminate those Burundian Tutsi. Kigali bosses are also scared that the Hutu leader of Burundi might be considering allowing anti-Kagame armed groups to operate from Burundi.

In addition, until shortly before the dismantling of M23, Rwandan special forces were in control of Burundi. President Nkurunziza switched his allegiance from Rwanda to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete for protection.

It is said that the Tanzanian and South African armies replaced Rwanda’s special forces in Burundi; the leadership in Kigali has no more control over Burundi. Another factor that saved Burundians from this alleged plot was a lack of cooperation from the Tutsi Burundian military officials. The Tutsi officials are said to have declined this proposal from outside forces because they believed that it was not in Burundians’ interest to assassinate their president.

Kambanda’s Facebook posting alleged that what is happening now is that bosses in Kigali are still mobilizing Burundians to “replay” the South-Sudan scenario. There are some Tutsi military and civil officials in Kigali for this purpose; these Burundians are in Kigali on the invitation of regional bosses to lay out a plan to destabilize Burundi.1

Kambanda alleges that Washington is upset about this. It’s probably the reason for Washington’s standing order to Ugandan leadership: “We urge the redeployment or phased withdrawal of foreign forces invited by either side, and warn of the serious consequences which could result from any regionalization of this conflict.”2

Kambanda’s Facebook posts also allege that until recently, the president of Burundi was, apparently, getting on well with Kagame. He says that President Nkurunziza was receiving orders from Rwanda; in essence that Rwanda was ruling Burundi. Both were playing survival games. Rwandan bosses are scared of the Tutsi elite in Burundi. They suspect that the Tutsi elite would partner with the Tutsi opposition in Rwanda to kick out the current Rwandan regime. Rwandan bosses needed a weak president in Burundi to make sure Burundi became a buffer zone for Rwanda. President Nkurunziza was not sure of what the Tutsi in Burundi had in store for him, but he knew they could kick him out. President Nkurunziza did not have the backing of all the Hutu. He also feared Rwandan bosses, because they had assassinated two Hutu presidents of Burundi before.

Tanzania is repositioning itself as a regional powerhouse. Tanzania needs countries in the region that will line up behind them, making Tanzania an inevitable ” power point” in the Balance of Power system. Tanzania grabbed Burundi. President Nkurunziza got everything he was looking for from Rwandan affiliation; in fact he got more because Tanzania has a very strong army. It is this this shift that angered Rwandan bosses. Their spontaneous reaction was this alleged assassination plan.

Kambanda’s postings say that he was told that Rwandan security personnel who were operating in Burundi have recently been kicked out.

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