On the 59th anniversary of Burundi’s independence, the Intwari stadium in Bujumbura received, among other prominent guests, Rwandan Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente. Only a year ago, this occurrence seemed unthinkable. This event was an indication of the two countries’ reconciliation, which began almost a year ago. This demonstrated Ndayishimiye’s readiness to work with everybody.
Since taking power in June 2020, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s diplomatic strategy has sought improved relations with neighbours, a striking contrast to his predecessor’s last tenure, which was mostly defined by increasing isolation.
On the other hand, Ndayishimiye’s first term in power was marked by a readiness to work with everyone. Since assuming office in June 2020 and until last July, the Burundian president has visited nine African nations, successfully had Burundi removed from the UN’s political agenda, and has resumed talks with the European Union (EU) in the hopes of easing economic sanctions. Ndayishimiye has gradually restored contact with his neighbours in the regional diplomatic arena after several years of unsuccessful dialogue with the opposition.
Ndayishimiye has instituted this policy change to lift Burundi out of diplomatic isolation in the face of changing regional circumstances and making his country a better trading partner and possible investment destination. It’s no accident, then, that Ndayishimiye spent two days in May in Kenya, the region’s economic powerhouse, which took over the EAC’s presidency.
Burundi has also begun improving ties with Uganda, another critical partner, a few weeks before his visit to Nairobi. These improving ties have seen Museveni and Ndayishimiye announce the construction of a road connecting Uganda and Burundi via Tanzania. A project with various benefits, as it will provide Burundi with an additional commercial outlet.
Burundi’s president does not want to end his diplomatic mission there; he has established relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before agreeing to the first discussion with his Congolese counterpart, Ndayishimiye sent Albert Shingiro, his foreign affairs minister, to meet with Tshisekedi on June 28.
Ndayishimiye assumption to office in January 2019 and willingness to work with his neighbours, notably in the area of security, has opened up new opportunities that Burundi cannot afford to lose out on and is helping the country emerge from its isolation.