Kigali Desperate to Mend Fences With Neighbors But Doors Closed-Sezibera

Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation minister Richard Sezibera says his government is willing to mend relations with the neighboring countries, but they have refused to respond. Sezibera fears that this undermines sustainable peace in the region. Sezibera who was addressing the media on Tuesday in Kigali said that the relationship between Rwanda and Burundi is still bad.

“Relations between Rwanda and Burundi is not good for reasons that are not our making. Burundi sometimes tends to involve us in their problems, but, as far as we are concerned, if they come to us, we shall be happy to normalize,” Sezibera said.

“For Rwanda and Uganda, relations are not that good for reasons that you know and we are not responsible neither; some Rwandans are threatened at the other side, other issues are caused by people tending to harm our country’s security.”

Rwanda has also been accused of trying to interfere with the regimes in Bujumbura and Kampala in order to bring regime change.

In Bujumbura, Rwanda was accused to being behind the 2015 attempted coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza through financing senior army officers in Burundi defense forces.

Kigali was also accused of trying to destabilize Kampala through under minding security in order to cause anarchy and plot regime change.

This has since resulted into the arrest of senior police officers in Uganda police force including former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura and tens of Rwandan spies including security agents who are all in the military detention.

During a press conference at Ministry headquarters, some journalists suggested that Rwanda should take the lead and talk to the neighbors, to initiate talks that would lead to the normalization of relations, but Sezibera said efforts were futile.

“We are willing, but if someone closes the door, you cannot break their door. But on the other hand, if anyone knocks on our door, we shall open.”

Apparently, every other day, there are signs of hostilities. Of recent, the media in Burundi alleged that two bodies were identified in Lake Rweru which flows between both countries, and they alleged that they were “from Rwanda.”

“It sounds stupid. When a Rwandan dies here, families organize a burial, but his/her body is not left to be carried by water,” he said.

For Uganda, the media which was meeting Sezibera for the first time since his appointment, tried to find out whether the latest visit of Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister to Rwanda yielded some results.

“He was bringing a message from President Museveni to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. I hope you won’t ask me to tell you the message between heads of state,” Sezibera replied.

In this same context of talks, Sezibera denied news that Rwanda held talks with South Africa where the later agreed to extradite General Kayumba Nyamwasa this month.

“There have never been such discussions. Only, presidents of our countries met and agreed that their foreign affairs ministers should meet for normalization of relations. We shall do that, we shall meet, otherwise I don’t know anything about Kayumba Nyamwasa and other people on the run,” Sezibera said.

“There are a number of issues we shall raise with when we meet. There are issues to discuss between governments, rather than the media.”

He said that otherwise, “every Rwandan who wants to talk with fellow Rwandans can attend existing fora, including the forthcoming national dialogue – umushyikirano.”