Rwandan President Paul Kagame says his country will not be sucked into what he described as Burundi’s provocation adding that doing so would be “giving them what they want.”
“We have had all kinds of provocation from Burundi and we have not fallen for that. We have not been sucked into these provocations because that would be giving them what they want, to prove their point that they have no other problem except Rwanda,” Mr Kagame is quoted telling journalists at the sidelines of the 2018 National Dialogue (Umushyikirano w’Igihugu).
In a statement posted on the Rwandan Presidency official Twitter handle, Mr Kagame told journalists that Rwanda joined the East African community by choice.
“For Rwanda to join the East African community was our choice but it was also our right. It was not anyone doing us a favour. When we joined the EAC we had not been kneeling down, bowing to people to give us this great favor. Any integration effort requires give and take. Every country has its own sovereignty but when you choose integration, you understand that some of it will be ceded. People come together and create something that is bigger than just the sovereignty of each entity,” he said.
Mr Kagame’s remarks come just hours after this publication reported that President Museveni and his Burundian counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza had, within a week, exchanged strongly-worded letters that reveal simmering division between East African Community (EAC) member states.
In a December 4, 2018 letter to Mr Museveni as current chair of EAC, President Nkrunziza called for an emergency meeting of the regional leaders to resolve what he called Rwanda’s “aggression” against his country.
“In addition to the fact that Rwanda has prepared and supervised the coup d’état of 2015, the coup perpetrators and other criminals have taken up residence in Rwanda where they receive support to attack Burundi, crossing Rwanda-Burundi border or via the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as getting assistance and travel documents to enable them to circulate in the region and even in Europe,” he wrote.
However, Mr Kagame noted that Rwanda has had invasions from neighbouring countries.
“Those challenges have been changing forms but they remained in substance as security threat. When it comes to us, our history, we don’t take any security challenge lightly. They say once bitten, twice shy. We have had our taste of it, we wouldn’t want to be found wanting in terms of taking care of our security. Big or small, we will take care of it. We have people around us in the region, others far away, disguised as political activists. There are those who help them directly, others who hide it and call it helping people involved in political struggles. We have to remind them that is not their business, because if they think it is their business then the question is are they inviting us to make it our business to get involved in their politics,” he added.