Burundi’s new President unveils agenda amid daunting challengess

APA - Kigali (Rwanda)

The new Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye has briefly outlined his plan for internal and foreign policies in line with his agenda to continue with its predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza' s strategy, a demi-decade after the tiny East African nation has been embroiled in a spiralling political crisis.

With the appointment of 15 members to the new government in Burundi early Sunday , analysts believe that the new president of Burundi still faces a delicate balance to find the lasting solution to the issue that forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee insecurity and unrest due to the political situation in neighboring countries including Rwanda.

Ndayishimiye is from the same ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) political party of his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza

Although Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been among African leaders to extend his condolences to the Government of Burundi and the people of Burundi over the passing of President Pierre Nkurunziza, Rwandan Foreign Affairs ministry also held out an olive branch to the newly Burundian elect President Evariste Ndayishimite by congratulating him while emphasizing to look forward to improved ties.

In addition, the Government of the Republic of Rwanda further wished good health, peace and prosperity to the people and to the Government of the Republic of Burundi, in particular during this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Relations between the two neighbours have not been at their best since 2015 under the leadership of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza after the Burundian government alleged that Rwanda was backing opposition groups that looked to depose the government, allegations Rwanda vehemently dismissed.

Despite the animosity from Burundi, Rwanda has maintained a more withdrawn stance, instead focussing on hosting thousands of Burundian refugees who fled the post-election violence resulting from Nkurunziza move to seek a third term.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has expressed optimism at several occasions to restore diplomatic ties with neighboring Burundi following the election of Gen. Ndayishimiye as new president of Burundi.

But many of local analysts believe that it is still too early to see how the situation will develop after many of the new appointed ministers including Prime minister Bunyoni and the Minister of the Interior, Community Development and Public Safety, Ndirakobuca, have been known to be leading anti-Rwanda campaign since former President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term despite controversy over whether he was eligible to run again.

The two Burundian leaders appointed in the new Government have been accusing Rwanda of supporting a rebel group that has been recruiting Burundian refugees in the country, with the aim of ousting President Pierre Nkurunziza by these allegations have always been dismissed by Rwandan officials.

Apart from international isolation where the European Union as the main development partner of government in Bujumbura has always expressed its concerns over by the human rights situation in Burundi, which undermines any initiative for reconciliation, peace and justice, several senior Burundian officials in the new Government still appear on the list for which travel ban and asset freeze have been applied by EU as part of sanctions.

Currently, Burundian Prime minister Bunyoni and the Minister of the Interior, Community Development and Public Safety, Ndirakobuca, are on the US sanctions list.

However, given the fact that Burundi is one of the world's most aid dependent countries, analysts believe that the decision to reverse sanctions on Burundian Government will depend on the political will by the new leadership in Bujumbura to make change happen.

In Rwanda where more than 70,000 Burundians have sought refuge, with about 25,000 seeking refuge in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said he doesn't know whether changes will be happening with the new leadership in Bujumbura, he raised optimism that dialogue could see cordial relations restored between the two countries.

Relations between outgoing Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza went cold following the failed May 2015 coup in Burundi. As the coup happened, Nkurunziza was in Arusha, Tanzania for the summit of the East African Community (EAC). Kagame was there too.

However before Nkurunziza went to Arusha, he had also met Kagame a month earlier, in Huye district of Southern Rwanda. It is a border region. It is the last time the two leaders have been in the same room at a bilateral level.


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