Escalating Diplomatic Strain: Closure of Borders by Burundi Sparks Response from Rwanda
Burundi has recently decided to close its borders with Rwanda, triggering a swift response from the Rwandan government. The decision, communicated through an official government statement, signifies a setback in the relationship between the two East African nations, challenging the principles of regional cooperation and integration within the East African Community.
“The Government of Rwanda has learned through media reports of the unilateral decision by the Government of Burundi to again close its borders with Rwanda,” states the official government response. “This 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.”
The tension between Rwanda and Burundi has been escalating for years, reaching its pinnacle in 2015 when both nations accused each other of harboring opponents. Rwanda accused Burundi of sheltering the armed faction of the FLN led by Paul Rusesabagina, while Burundi alleged that Rwanda was harboring Red Tabara, which attempted a coup d’état in Burundi in 2015.
Despite these historical tensions, the two countries had made efforts to mend relations. In late 2022, borders were reopened, and senior officials engaged in reciprocal visits. Notably, in February 2023,
President Kagame attended the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State in the East African Community, hosted in Burundi and warmly received by President Ndayishimiye.
Diplomatic exchanges included visits by the first ladies of both nations, with Angeline Ndayishimiye of Burundi attending the Women Deliver 2023 Conference in Rwanda, and Jeannette Kagame of Rwanda participating in the fourth meeting of the women leaders’ forum in Bujumbura, Burundi.
However, the recent closure of borders by Burundi indicates a renewed strain in diplomatic ties. The exact reasons for Burundi’s decision and the nature of the accusations against Rwanda are yet to be fully disclosed, raising concerns about the
future trajectory of their relationship.
As the situation unfolds, the international community watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution between Rwanda and Burundi. This recent diplomatic setback emphasizes the fragility of regional relationships and underscores the importance of continuous dialogue and cooperation for sustained peace and prosperity in East Africa.