Kigali – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has implored neighbouring Burundi to avoid the ethnic violence that ended in genocide in his country in 1994.
Kagame’s appeal comes as regional and world powers have grown increasingly concerned that the security situation in Burundi could lead to civil war or mass atrocities, following a weekend deadline for Burundians to give up weapons- a move that could spark widespread bloodshed.
The situation in Rwanda was triggered by a process aimed at adjusting the presidential term limit rules, which paved the way for Kagame to seek a third term in office.
At least 200 people have died and tens of thousands have left the country after months of violence and protests since President Pierre Nkurunziza declared he would seek a third term in office, which he then won in a contested vote in July.
Reacting to the development in Burudi, Kagame told a gathering in the Rwandan capital that “they should have learned the lesson of our history’’.
His concern stemmed from the ethnic similarities between both nations as clashes often occurs along ethnic divide between the Hutu and Tutsi tribe.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
It would be recalled that some 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were massacred before rebel forces led by Kagame ended the genocide in Rwanda.
Kagame has mostly avoided talking about the unfolding political crisis in Burundi as Rwanda is currently in the process of adjusting its own presidential term limit rules, which would pave the way for Kagame to seek a third term in office.
However, in the speech he was pointedly critical of Nkurunziza, saying he was allowing his people to die.
“No one knows where he is, no one can talk to him, how he leads his people, people are dying every day, dead bodies are being dragged on the streets every day,’’ Kagame said.
Meanwhile, Burundi’s Minister for Security, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, told newsmen the disarmament process has been launched “with respect for human rights’’.
“The security forces are there and will stay until peace is restored and whoever will try to oppose the return of peace will have troubles,’’ he said.
Nkurunziza , a former Hutu rebel leader, became Burundi’s first democratically elected president after its civil war. (Reuters/NAN)