Burundian authorities insist that their northern neighbour, Rwanda, was largely responsible for the chaos and instability the country has been experiencing since April last year.
Burundi accuses Rwanda among other things of recruiting and training insurgents to engage in acts of instability. Other accusations border on the arming of anti-government elements and dispatching spies.
Willy Nyamitwe, a senior media advisor to President Nkurunziza, outlined how Rwanda had continually breached international laws by political and security interference during an presentation in Oslo.
Nyamitwe’s presentation titled ‘Current and future prospects for stability in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Focus on Burundi and Rwanda,’ also blamed the attempted Coup d’Etat of 2015 and other armed attacks on Rwandan machinations.
‘‘The course of events and their culmination which is the failed coup of 13 May 2015 sufficiently prove that the acts of destabilization of the Republic of Burundi were prepared and conducted from the outside, and more specifically from the Republic of Rwanda, neighbouring country of Burundi and member of the East African Community like Burundi,’‘ he added.
Burundi also alleged that Rwanda had forcibly recruited refugees fleeing the instability it had sown in the country including minors and given them military training. They relied on international news reports and testimonies of some of the minors recruited to back their claims.
Nyamitwe quoted three international laws to back the view that Burundi was being ‘attacked’ by its neighbour. The United Nations Charter of 1945, ‘‘All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.’‘
The Convention of July 28th, 1951 on Refugees and the Peace and Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region – Addis Ababa, February 24, 2013; were the two other legislations he quoted – both spoke against outside interference of one country in affairs of the other.
Since April 2015 when president Nkurunziza said he was running for a third term in elections that he eventually won, over 400 people have been killed in gun battles in the country. Opponents however insist the third term was unconstitutional.
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As at March 2016, two percent of the population – 220,000 people – were said to have fled to neighboring countries particularly Rwanda, which was torn apart by genocide in 1994. Like Burundi, Rwanda has an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.
European nations and the United States have led efforts to put pressure on Bujumbura with aid cuts. Brussels announced on March 14 it was suspending direct financial support to the government, affecting a package worth about 432 million euros ($480 million) for 2014 to 2020, although emergency aid would continue.
To resume funding, the EU said Burundi had to free up the media, deal with rights abuses and launch genuine peace talks.