The office of the UN Secretary General says it hopes countries in the region will play a helpful role to ensure stability in Burundi.
Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson was reacting to a leaked confidential report to the Security Council accusing Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees in military tactics with the goal of ousting Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Rwanda has dismissed the claims despite the report citing 18 Burundian combatants who claimed to have been recruited after fleeing to refugee camps in Rwanda.
It is an embarrassment for Rwanda that has also previously been accused of commanding rebellions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
These latest developments bolster Burundi Government claims that Rwanda is training rebels to oust it.
The Secretary General’s spokesperson, Farhan Haq says, “Our focus is on a political solution that would bring together the current government of Burundi and the opposition for talks on the way forward.”
“We have made our views known prior to and since the elections in the country and we want to make sure that the stability of the country can be preserved. This is what Mr (Jamal) Benomar’s focus has been and this is what we’ve been in touch with countries in the region about.”
The report by the Group of Experts that monitor sanctions on the DRC, found the alleged Rwandan trained fighters in the eastern DRC’s south Kivu Province where interviews were conducted.
There are experts who are looking into the whole issue of the situation between Rwanda and Burundi, they’re presenting their findings to the Security Council and we trust that the Security Council will look upon it and evaluate it fairly
It is unclear why they were in the DRC but they told the experts that they had been recruited at the Mahama refugee Camp in eastern Rwanda last year and given two months of training by Rwandan military personnel including on the use of assault rifles and machine guns.
Rwanda has denied the latest accusations while Russia’s deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Peter Lliichev, called the developments troubling.
“Within the framework agreement that we agreed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs and not to support negative element…You signed and you agreed and it was a region grown agreement so if you pledged and now you have to fulfil your pledges. There is nothing that we are going to impose.”
A reference to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Great Lakes region where regional countries agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of their neighbours.
Haq says they will wait for the Security Council’s assessment of the report.
“There are experts who are looking into the whole issue of the situation between Rwanda and Burundi, they’re presenting their findings to the Security Council and we trust that the Security Council will look upon it and evaluate it fairly. For our part what we are hopeful for is that the serious situation in Burundi will be resolved and that there will be a political solution. This is what the special adviser Jamal Benomar has been working on.”
More than 200 000 people have fled Burundi into camps in neighbouring countries including the DRC, Tanzania and Rwanda.