Burundi closes Rwanda border, claims neighbour backing rebels

Burundi closes Rwanda border, claims neighbour backing rebels

Bujumbura, Burundi | By Michael Wandati | Burundi announced on Thursday the closure of its border with Rwanda, citing allegations that its neighbouring country supported rebels responsible for recent attacks on Burundian soil.

The RED-Tabara group is accused of staging an attack on December 22 near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resulting in the tragic loss of 20 lives, including women and children.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye has accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels, a claim firmly denied by the Rwandan government.

“We have closed our borders (with Rwanda), anyone who tries to go there will not get through. The decision has been made,” Burundi’s Interior Minister Martin Niteretse told reporters on Thursday 11, January 2024.

“After having noted that we had a bad neighbour, (Rwandan President) Paul Kagame… we stopped all relations with him until he returns to better feelings,” the minister added.

President Ndayishimiye asserted that Rwanda provides shelter to criminals who pose a threat to Burundians.

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Despite initial improvements in relations after Ndayishimiye assumed power in 2020, tensions resurfaced, particularly due to Burundi’s engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The RED-Tabara group, accused of initiating lethal violence in Burundi since 2015, had remained inactive since September 2021.

However, it resumed activities with several attacks, including one on Bujumbura’s main city airport.