In a new development of an ongoing diplomatic dispute, Burundi has officially closed its borders with Rwanda, heightening tensions between the two neighbouring nations. The closure comes in the wake of accusations by Burundi that Rwanda has been involved in funding rebel attacks, a claim firmly denied by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The diplomatic row gained momentum when Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of supporting rebel activities following an attack near Burundi’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in December, resulting in the deaths of 20 people. In response, Rwanda’s government expressed regret over the unilateral closure of the border by Burundi.
The rebel group Red Tabara admitted to carrying out the December attack, claiming to have targeted security forces. Operating from the South Kivu province in the DRC, which shares a border with Burundi, the group has been a source of tension between the two nations.
This closure marks a recurrence of border tensions between Burundi and Rwanda. In 2015, Burundi closed its borders with Rwanda due to political tensions, and later, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent closure further complicates diplomatic relations, with the long-lasting repercussions of the 2015 closure still fresh in memory.
Rwanda has been navigating diplomatic challenges not only with Burundi but also with the Democratic Republic of Congo. In July 2023, accusations arose that Rwandan forces had crossed into the DR Congo, leading to clashes with frontier security forces. This latest development with Burundi adds another layer of complexity to regional dynamics, with concerns about the potential for a military confrontation involving neighbouring countries.