African Great Lakes Sliding Into Chaos and Human Tragedy: Burundi, then Rwanda?

Burundian Pierre Nkurunziza and Rwandan Paul Kagame in "soccer buddies" days

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The small and impoverished country of Burundi, located in the heart of African Great Lakes Region, is slowly and steadily sliding into the chaos and human tragedy, with unpredictable consequences. unknown/abyss but Rwanda, another small impoverished country to the North may  not be far behind.

Recent news coming from the landlocked country of Burundi have been alarming to say the least. Few days ago there were media reports of insurgents coordinated attacks against three main military compounds in the Capital City of Bujumbura. Score of assailants were killed. Based on  official accounts, 87 people, including 9 from the Burundian security forces  were killed in the attacks. However, several sources in Bujumbura affirm that hundreds of people, including insurgents, civilians and government soldiers were killed, just in one day.  A few days  earlier,

the Burundian Army Chief of Staff had survived an ambush in  a broad daylight, barely  escaping the assassination attempt, unhurt. Some of his bodyguards were killed during the ambush.

Faced with the deteriorating situation,  several Western countries, including the United States and Belgium,  have advised their citizens to leave the country immediately.  all together the country. The European Union has reduced the number of its diplomatic staff.

Who is fueling the instability and chaos in Burundi?

Based on reliable information from  Rwandan General Paul Kagame's inner circle, Rwandan top political and  and security services leaders have planning several scenarios for some time. The most likely scenario was approved  by General Paul Kagame, following the recommendation from his top advisers and put in motion by Rwandan presidential security advisers. 

As it has been reported by one of AfroAmerica Network regional correspondents, Rwandan military operatives have been recruiting, training, and arming Burundian refugees. Among the new recruits are child soldiers ,men and women who are forcefully enrolled into the rag-tag units of rebels. Any refusal or hesitation leads to violent abuse and torture, even death. In addition,  several eye witnesses in and around Bujumbura and in some rural provinces close to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),  confirm that Rwandan forces have been operating in Burundi for quite some time.  Hence, the recent attacks of the barracks in Bujumbura  appeared not surprising for many in Bujumbura.

According to our sources, the objectives of the assailants were several folds: initially they were to take control of the three barracks and wait for reinforcements coming from either the elements newly trained by the Rwandan military or Rwandan forces that have already infiltrated the country. After this first step, these elements were to try to overrun the International Airport of Bujumbura, the Presidential Palace or Office and any other strategic institutions in Bujumbura.

The bulk of the assailants trained by General Paul Kagame's army  have been lately transiting with arms and ammunitions through Uvira in South Kivu (DRC),  which offers the benefit of proximity with Bujumbura. The operation is coordinated by Paul Kagame himself, his Minister of Defense, the Rwandan Defense Forces  Chief of Staff while the day-to-day decisions are taken by General  Alex Kagame (no known relationship with  Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame), Commander of the Southern Region while the officers who are coordinating the operations  on the ground are Lt. Col. Gakwerere and  Lt Col. Matunga.

What is in for the Rwandan General Paul Kagame?

 Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame and Pierre Nkurunziza used to play soccer together. They were once called: "presidential soccer buddies". Being his elder, General Paul Kagame was viewed by Pierre Nkurunziza as his "God Father", according to Pierre Nkurunziza's former aides. However, since early this year,   the Rwandan dictator has shown an overt disdain towards Pierre Nkurunziza, privately referring to him  as a "moron".

According to our sources, Paul Kagame has sought to use Pierre Nkurunziza as test for his own ambitions to cling to power by changing the Rwandan constitution. However, Pierre Nkurunziza's ambitions did not turn as expected, when thousands of refugees started pouring into Rwanda. That led Paul Kagame to  question the intelligence of Pierre Nkurunziza, and to adopt another strategy to cover up his own ambitions. 

He has indicated to his closest aids that the best strategy is the offensive. In one of his recent meetings, he highlighted his preferred modus operandi of prioritizing offensive over cautious steps.  He told the all-ears audience to  "Never wait to get struck; if you're in doubt strike first and deal with the consequences later".

He explained that creating chaos in Burundi would  serve two objectives:

  • first, giving his "moron" friend a lesson after advising him to bid for the controversial third term,
  • second, deflecting the attention away from himself and his cronies especially after the public statements from the US and the EU officials, condemning the attempts  by General Paul Kagame to run for a third term in 2017.

In addition, there are yet to be verified accounts of General Paul Kagame's instructions and huge sums of money to his diplomatic representatives to lobby local governments and law makers in order to reverse recent public statements by the US and EU officials.

Meanwhile with the upcoming referendum, General Paul Kagame, his local and national government officials  and his security services  have been actively running a sustained campaigns of terror in villages and towns across Rwanda, threatening civilians of dire consequences if they do not support the constitutional change to allow Paul Kagame to remain in power.  

Although the outcome is determined in advance, the Rwandan Government has decided to go ahead with the Referendum mainly for the consumption of international community and to help in the lobbying efforts. Officially, General Paul Kagame has not stated his intentions, keeping the West guessing  while at the same time showing clear signs of his intentions to cling to power.