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Rwanda regrets border closure by Burundi

The Government of Rwanda has said it learned through media reports of “the unilateral decision by the Government of Burundi to again close its borders with Rwanda.”

In a statement released on Thursday, January 11, the Rwandan government said the “unfortunate decision will restrict the free movement of people and goods between the two countries, and violates the principles of regional cooperation and integration of the East African Community.”

Reports of the border closure circulated on social media on earlier on Thursday, but no official communication by the Burundian government was made about it.

The development comes less than a month after Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of harbouring and training members of RED Tabara, a Burundian armed group based in eastern DR Congo which is responsible for an attack that killed 20 people on December 22 in Gatumba, western Burundi.

The Rwandan government dismissed Ndayishimiye’s claims on December 29, saying there was “no truth whatsoever” in his allegations.

“Rwanda is not associated, in any way, with any Burundian armed group,” the statement read in part.

In 2020, the two governments began the normalisation of diplomatic relations, which took a hit after a foiled coup attempt in Burundi in 2015.

Senior and local government officials met on several occasions as the relations returned to normalcy.

Ndayishimiye said members of RED Tabara were responsible for the 2015 coup attempt against his predecessor, late President Pierre Nkurunziza.

 

In the spirit of mutual cooperation, the Government of Rwanda has previously handed over, through the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, Burundian combatants who illegally crossed into Rwanda.

Rwanda in 2020 handed to Burundi close to 20 rebels and their ammunition after they were intercepted by Rwanda Defence Force in southwestern Rwanda.

They had crossed 600 metres into Rwandan territory, local authorities said at the time.

The Rwandan government has called on their Burundian counterparts to “address their concerns through diplomatic channels where they can be resolved amicably.”

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