Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Burundi's hunt for 'rebels' spooks frightened Rwandans

04 October 2015, 09:50

Kigali - Buses to Burundi from neighbouring Rwanda used to be full, but nowadays they struggle for passengers: a reflection of tensions amid accusations Kigali is backing a rebellion against Bujumbura.

Checkpoints on the roads from Rwanda have sprung up, with passengers regularly taken off buses and accused of being part of a rebel army Bujumbura accuses Rwanda of harbouring on its soil.

"If you are young you are routinely arrested," said Jacques, who works for a Rwandan bus operator.

Burundi, where a 13-year civil war between Tutsis and Hutus ended in 2006, has been rocked by violence since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his successful but highly controversial bid for a third term in power.

It sparked an attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups, who said it was in defiance of the constitution and the Arusha accords which ended the war.

Tightly-controlled Rwanda - which has a similar ethnic makeup to Burundi - is seen as a safe place for those who oppose the government in Bujumbura.

Dissidents flee to Rwanda

The Rwandan capital Kigali has become a refuge for many opposition and civil society activists - as well as dissidents from Nkurunziza's ruling party.

Burundi however goes a step further, claiming that rebel forces - set up by mutinous soldiers after a failed coup in May - are also there and enjoying Rwandan support.

Relations between Rwanda and Burundi grew tense after Rwanda President Paul Kagame urged Nkurunziza to end his bid for a third term.

The people of Rwanda and Burundi have close ties, and have taken turns sheltering in each other's countries when trouble spiked, including during Rwanda's 1994 genocide and Burundi's 1993-2006 civil war.

But relations between Bujumbura and Kigali are more frosty.

The number of travellers between the capitals - which are only 300km apart - has been cut by almost two-thirds, one Rwandan bus company owner said.

Also read: Rwanda accused of arresting 'undesirables' to keep capital clean

Many Rwandans used to travel regularly to Burundi for business, to study or to visit relatives.

Since the crisis began in Burundi in April, some 200 Rwandans have been arrested in Burundi, a Rwandan diplomat said, adding that while around 50 had been released, they had been no news of the others.

"Rwandans are in the crosshairs of Burundi's security services, they are taken from the bus from Rwanda and imprisoned, just because they are Rwandans," the diplomat said, asking not to be named. "Others were arrested at their workplace."

'Severely beaten'

Alois Bayingana, a 43-year-old Rwandan taxi driver, was arrested in August in a Bujumbura bar after driving a customer to the city from Kigali.

He was taken to Burundi's feared National Intelligence Agency.

"I was severely beaten, they kept saying that I was a rebel sent by Kagame," said Bayingana, who was released after two weeks.

Burundians leaving or returning home are also questioned.

For traders the restrictions are costly.

"I cannot go to Burundi," said a Rwandan businessman who would only gave his name as Stephane, adding he had invested "millions" of dollars in the country.

"I am afraid, my friends in Burundi tell me not to come," he added, saying he feared being accused of financing rebellion.

Rwanda's government has remained tightlipped despite a slew of accusations from Burundi.

Kigali's Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye said Rwanda was seeking to resolve tensions "amicably and diplomatically" between the two "sister republics".

For now, businesses try to survive.

Rwanda and Burundi "accuse each other, but we are merchants, and no one knows exactly why and we do not know what will happen" in the future, Stephane said, fearing a long crisis and saying he was "very worried" for his business.



Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...