President Pierre Nkurunziza has asked the East African Community leadership to urgently convene an extraordinary summit to address the differences between Burundi and Rwanda.
While addressing journalists at his home town in Ngozi Province on Friday, President Nkurunziza once again accused Rwanda of harbouring ill motives.
“We want the EAC to intervene because the matter involves armed groups… People are getting killed and it shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he said.
“Burundi does not harbour bad intentions; Rwanda does, and we will continue to say it.”
Kigali has repeatedly denied allegations that it is meddling in Burundi’s politics, with President Paul Kagame recently saying Bujumbura has repeatedly provoked Kigali.
Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of EAC Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe dismissed calls for the special summit, saying that Bujumbura was only trying to deflect the attention of the Community away from its political crisis.
“This summit will not take place. What will take place is the ordinary summit. The situation in Burundi is internal and the EAC has called on Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to intervene,” he said.
Relations between Burundi and Rwanda have deteriorated over the past three years, with armed attacks resulting in the deaths of civilians and fighters among border communities.
The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has called on EAC member states and partners to urgently address the crisis.
Secretary General Zachary Muburi-Muita said that Burundi and Rwanda had recently allowed the Enhanced Joint Verification Mechanism team based in Goma, DR Congo, to conduct a verification mission on their border issues.
“Although the report is yet to be discussed by the ministers of defence, we welcome the spirit of submitting to this confidence-building organ of the ICGLR,” said Mr Muita.
The call by ICGLR comes as tensions between the two countries continue to rise with Burundi boycotting the EAC Heads of State Summit that was to take place in Arusha on November 30. It was rescheduled to December 27 but later moved to February 2019.