BUJUMBURA– Burundian President Pierre Nkuruziza has called for a special regional summit on what he describes as an ‘open conflict’ with neighbours, Rwanda.
Rwanda and Burundi are living a frosty relationship since the failed coup in 2015 that attempted to out seat Mr. Nkuruziza.
As the relations between both neighbouring states continue to deteriorate, Bujumbura also accuses Kigali of offering militarily training to Burundi refugees to destabilize Burundi’s democratically elected institutions and sheltering the plotters of the failed 2015 coup.
In return, Rwanda accuses Burundi of hosting the FDLR rebels who are accused by the authorities in Rwanda of committing the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
In a letter leaked on social media and confirmed by trusted sources within the presidency, Nkuruziza accused Rwanda of being the origin of the crisis that Burundi has been going through since April 2015.
The letter dated December 4 and addressed to President Yoweri Museveni, the chairman of the East African Community (EAC) and mediator in the Burundian crisis, maintained that Rwanda recruited and supported Burundian refugees who then tried to destabilize Nkurunziza government.
This desire to deal with the Burundian crisis at a regional level is seen by observers as a leap forward. Burundi has been in a political crisis since Nkuruziza declared his intention to seek a third term.
Rwanda shuns EAC parliamentary Games held in Burundi
Rwanda chose not to attend the Inter-parliamentary games of the EAC, which started from December 1 in Burundi, Bujumbura on Saturday.
The EAC games are scheduled to run through December 10.
In a letter to the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Rwanda’s parliament indicated that its members had commitments till Tuesday that could not allow them to take part in the 10-day tournament.
“We regret to inform you that the parliament of Rwanda will not be able to participate in the 2018 EAC Inter-Parliamentary Games. Any inconveniences caused are highly regretted,” read the letter.
However, it is speculated that Rwanda’s absence in Burundi was yet another manifestation of the sour relations between Bujumbura and Kigali since 2015. State officials from the two neighboring countries have refrained from mutual visits.
It is unfortunate that there is a country which did not attend these games that should bring together all parliaments across the region, but the games will go on as planned,” Burundi EAC minister Isabelle Ndahayo told reporters in Bujumbura.
At the failed summit last week, Rwanda was represented by its Foreign Affairs minister Richard Sezibera, who is the immediate former EAC secretary general but Burundi did not show up.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African integration Augustine Mahiga confessed he was not “fully aware” as to why Burundi failed to turn up at the summit.