Burundi picks a hill to launch fresh attack on Rwanda

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A hill on the common border between Rwanda and Burundi has become the unlikely focus of the tense relations between the two neighbours in the New Year. TEA GRAPHIC | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By The EastAfrican Team

Posted  Monday, January 9   2017 at  13:31

In Summary

  • The dispute originated from the River Akanyaru — which has been used as a natural border between the two countries — changing course and riverbed over the years, and now the hill is on the Rwandan side.
  • The hill only became a point of dispute between the two countries after disagreements over President Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term which was met with resistance.

“On the relations between Burundi and Rwanda, everything has a beginning and an end. Burundi never provoked Rwanda, even in history. Issues between our two countries always originate from Rwanda. There are examples,” President Nkurunziza said.

He further said that his government has arms captured in the country that originated from Rwanda.

On his country’s decision to bar exports to Rwanda in August 2016, President Nkurunzinza said: “Burundians import some goods from Rwanda and Rwandans buy some goods here, but if Rwanda does not apologise for its actions in Burundi in 2015 and 2016, we will cut ties completely and stop any relations between the two countries.”

Burundian government officials have claimed that Rwanda hosts groups of Burundian exiles who oppose President Nkurunziza’s government.

Peace talks led by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa between the government of Burundi and opposition groups have not yielded results.

Speaking about the situation in Burundi in his end of year press conference, Rwandan President Paul Kagame emphasised his country’s decision to distance itself from the happenings in Burundi.

The two countries enjoyed cordial relations over the years but relations went sour in 2015 after a political crisis engulfed Burundi as President Nkurunziza sought another term in office.

Over 300,000 people fled the country to neighbouring countries and beyond, with over 80,000 seeking refuge in Rwanda.

Bujumbura wants all refugees to return even though the crisis is far from over.

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