Rwanda Congratulates Burundi’s President-elect, Looks Forward to Improved Ties

Two days after the Burundian Constitutional Court upheld the May 25 election results to declare Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye the winner of the May 20 presidential poll, Rwanda has congratulated the new head of state and extended an olive branch to the new leader, a move that is likely to see the two countries move to restore ties.

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Despite the animosity from Burundi, Rwanda has maintained a more withdrawn stance, instead focussing on hosting thousands of Burundian refugees who fled the post-election violence resulting from Nkurunziza move to seek a third term.

On Sunday, the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a diplomatic note to Bujumbura congratulating Gen Ndayishimiye who has mentioned in interviews that he will work on restoring relations between Burundi and her neighbours as well as ensuring that the East African country gets out of its current international isolation.

The communique started with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda presenting its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Burundi.

Thereafter, the ministry presented “A message of congratulations that the Government of the Republic of Rwanda sends to the Government of the Republic of Burundi, on the occasion of the election of Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye to the Presidency of Burundi,” the message reads,

“The Government of the Republic of Rwanda would like to extend its congratulations to the new President of the Republic of Burundi, General Major Evariste Ndayishimiye, and seize this opportunity to express its will to work for the improvement of the historical relations which exist between our two brotherly countries,” it adds.

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.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda takes this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Burundi, the assurances of its highest consideration,” the message adds.

The message was shared on social media by the ruling party CNDD-FDD whose leaders in recent years have been consistently attacking the Rwandan government in public statements.

The Burundian constitutional court on Thursday approved the results of last month’s presidential election, declaring ruling party’s presidential candidate Gen Ndayishimiye as the president-elect.

The court also rejected the first runner-up Agathon Rwasa’s complaints filed to the court, which challenged the provisional results announced on May 25.

The provisional results released by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) saw Ndayishimiye from the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) win the poll by 68.72 percent of votes in the presidential election, followed by Rwasa’s National Council for Liberty (CNL) with24.19 percent.

During a press conference last month, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Vincent Biruta said that Rwanda had no problem with Burundi but Burundi had continued its stance of not only isolating itself from the region but also working with negative forces keen on destabilizing Rwanda.

He however said that Rwanda was ready to engage with Burundi on resolving the issues between the two countries as soon as Bujumbura shows the will.

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