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Rwanda will not send troops to Burundi - Kagame

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 23rd December 2015 07:44 AM

“We have no extra capacity to pass around to people who don’t even want it."

Rwanda will not send troops to Burundi - Kagame

Rwandan soldiers attend a ceremony on Feb. 25, 2009 in Goma. President Paul Kagame has said Rwandan forces would not be part of any military effort for Burundi

“We have no extra capacity to pass around to people who don’t even want it."

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has ruled out sending troops to Burundi but said his country can make a small contribution towards peace in the restive country.

Speaking to journalists in Rwanda' capital, Kigali on Tuesday, Kagame said Rwandan forces would not be part of any military effort for Burundi.

"We have no extra capacity to pass around to people who don't even want it," he said.

"We will not be part of that. We have troops that we can deploy in many parts of the world for peacekeeping, but we are not going to be part of that [Burundi deployment]. We shall only provide it if and when required," Kagame said.

Burundi's parliament has rejected the deployment of a regional force to put a stop to the insurgency.

Kagame said Burundi's crisis is a result of a political - not a military - problem, even as he said the situation there may warrant some level of armed intervention.

He also said the duty of preventing killings in Burundi was that of the United Nations (UN) Security Council while the solution to the problems was for Burundians.

Kagame dismissed reports that his country was fanning the conflict by training militias to fight in Burundi, describing them as an "exaggeration and distortion".

"Those accusations are childish. We cannot benefit from a neighbour's problem; it becomes our problem. We are hosting thousands of refugees.

"They talk of us training child soldiers: I haven't seen one. That Rwanda is giving them guns; there is not the tiniest evidence to prove that."

Kagame described the reports as politicking but said Rwanda was ready to guard its borders and minimise spill-overs that may affect his country's security.

Rwanda is hosting about 72,000 Burundian refugees in camps, in addition to thousands scattered in the capital Kigali.

Term limits

Meanwhile, Kagame said there has been conversation within the ruling RPF party and wider Rwandan society on succession but said that should not deviate Rwanda for more important development aspirations.

He said he has articulated the need to build institutions and structures, and provide long-term stability for the country, which should be prioritised.

"Since when did the main problems of Africa add up to third, fourth or fifth term? They may be part of ta bigger problem," Kagame said.

He argued that Africa's problem is "governance, generally, to leverage people, resources", with term limits not a guarantee of economic and social development.

He insisted that the focus should be on addressing the question of why Africa is the poorest of all continents yet it is the richest in terms of resources.

"The longevity is not the issue; how long, how short has not been the problem. Is it just third term that should dominate global debate about African affairs? We need to look at the wider context."

Kagame scoffed at pressure from western nations in the wake of a recent referendum that cleared him to run for president once his term ends in 2017.

"We all have our lives to live and have right to choose life to live as nationals and individuals."

‘I am not a tourist in my country'

He described as a contradiction the fact that western powers say power belongs to the people but call him a dictator.

"There has been a lot of talk about people's choices, decisions, aspirations as the bedrock of democracy but at same time they say Rwandans are foolish because they have chosen a dictator.

"I think that they giving dictatorship a good name. If a dictatorship means the choice of people, security, safety, stability, women empowerment, people living together where past has been terrible and different; progress being made, people feeding selves: if that amounts to dictatorship, what can I say?"

Kagame said he was not hungry for power but ready to contribute to Rwanda's development even when he is out of power.

"I am a human being, I have played part to try bring some change into my country. I have a stake in it, not a visitor. I am not a tourist," he said.

"When I was in the bush, I wasn't in office. I gave all I had, including putting my life at stake, not because I wanted to be president."

On potential backlash from donors over politics in Rwanda, Kagame said his country would not depend on outsider's decisions and scoffed at threats from the west.

"I don't see anything worse happening to us than we have had already in 1994, and the tears that followed. If anything can take us back to Stone Age or trenches to eat raw cassava and fried maize, then maybe we can still do it."

Kagame backs Museveni

Kagame said Ugandans are mature enough to know how to resolve their political differences as the country prepares for elections next year.

"The outcome will be what Ugandans deserve. They deserve stability, leaders that continue to work for development of Uganda," he said. 

"I have been working with the incumbent government leaders very well, so I wish them well."

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