Burundi Urges UN to Push Rwanda for Handover of Dissidents
(Bloomberg) -- Burundi asked the United Nations to push Rwanda to hand over people suspected of plotting a 2015 coup, as the neighbors inch closer to improving ties that soured after former strongman Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to stay in power triggered a bloody conflict in the central African nation.
Burundi is trying to renew ties with several neighbors and international organizations following years of isolation under Nkurunziza, whose government shunned foreign diplomats and expelled some senior officials, including representatives of the World Health Organization. Most of the acrimony was fueled by widespread international condemnation of Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for re-election in 2015.
Since Nkurunziza’s death in office in June, his successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, has requested debt relief from the International Monetary Fund, asked for Burundi to be readmitted to the International Organization of la Francophonie and received several senior UN delegations.
His government has also moved to restore relations with its more powerful neighbor Rwanda, allowing for two border meetings between senior officials of both countries. The previous administration accused Rwanda of backing dissidents who were planning to topple Nkurunziza.
This week, Ndayishimiye spoke with the UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Huang Xia, who said that Rwanda is planning to deliver the suspects via a neutral body, according to a statement from his office Wednesday. Ndayishimiye said the suspects can be handed over directly and there’s no need for mediators, his spokesman said in the statement.
In January, before Nkurunziza’s death, the International Crisis Group warned of a security crisis in the Great Lakes region if the different countries continued to accuse each other of backing proxy rebels. Dozens of people died last year in cross-border attacks involving Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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