Burundi President Wants To Dialogue With RED-Tabara, FNL Rebel Groups Based In DR Congo

The President says he would engage the two rebel groups that are of Burundian origin but operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi says he is ready to dialogue with Burundian rebel groups based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The president cited the RED-Tabara, which is the most active Burundian rebel group, as well as the Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL), as the main rebel groups he wants to engage in dialogue.

“If the RED-Tabara and the FNL demand for negotiations, we are ready to meet and dialogue with them,” President Ndayishimiye declared Tuesday, May 10, during his first press conference since he came to power two years ago.

“It is the role of the government to listen to the grievances of all its children and to find solutions,” the president added.

Created in 2011, the RED-Tabara rebel group has been accused of being responsible for a series of attacks on Burundi since 2015. 

The group which has between 500 and 800 combatants has been reinforcing its ranks and is now present in the country unlike in the past when it was based only in the DR Congo, according to exile Burundian opposition activist, Alexis Sinduhije, who is said to be the founder of the group but who has always refuted the claims.

In Sept. 2021, the RED-Tabara claimed responsibility for an attack on the Bujumbura international airport in the country’s economic capital, where several other attacks took place in the same month.

The FNL, led by self-proclaimed ‘General’ Aloys Nzabampema, is a branch of the former Agathon Rwasa rebellion which has now become the principal opposition party in Burundi.

More than one thousand Burundian soldiers have for several months now been present in South Kivu province in eastern DR Congo, essentially to track down RED-Tabara rebels, according to Burundian and DR Congo sources. However, the two countries have continued to deny such presence.

In April this year, on his return from a regional conference in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital dedicated to the violence by armed groups that has gripped eastern DR Congo for 25 years, President Ndayishimiye called on members of the RED-Tabara whom he described as “criminals” to lay down their arms.

The group reacted by describing the declaration as “insulting language and insulting declaration”.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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