The leadership of the East African Community (EAC) has raised concern over interstate relations between partner states following a unilateral decision by Burundi to close its border with Rwanda last week.
This was raised at a meeting between President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, Chairperson of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State and the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, held in Juba on Monday, January 15.
The Secretary General briefed the Chair on a number of issues critical to the progress of the Community in the calendar year 2024 and interventions on strengthening EAC inter-state relations.
“The deliberations focused on setting targets on deliverables under the leadership of President Salva Kiir, anchored on the need to foster a predictable and stable security environment that can catalyse the regional integration agenda,” a statement from the bloc reads.
“The Chairperson noted with concern the interstate political and security dynamics in the region that require urgent intervention. The Chairperson identified a number of interventions that will be activated towards addressing inter-state relations,” it added.
President Salva Kiir committed to assign special envoys to the various capitals to deliver his message, and where necessary engage the leaders to resolve the matters within the framework of the EAC.
President Salva Kiir reiterated the need for not only East Africans, but all Africans to embrace the spirit of brotherhood and where omnipresent conflict arise by utilizing the Regional, Continental and Global Peaceful Conflict Resolution Mechanisms available.
On the ongoing expansion of the bloc, Dr. Mathuki updated President Salva Kiir on the Secretariat’s readiness to fast-track the integration of the Federal Republic of Somalia once the nation deposits the instruments of ratification with the Secretary General.
President Salva Kiir reiterated his commitment to strengthen the East African Community during his tenure as the chairperson.
Following Bujumbura’s unilateral decision to close the country’s border with Rwanda last week, the regional bloc urged partner states to strive to achieve harmonious cooperation in their undertakings to ensure the people of East Africa remain at the centre of our integration.
“The Community’s operational principles provide that our integration is people-centred and that all our undertakings should strictly observe this spirit. In the event of any dispute arising between two or more Partner States, it is expected that we use the existing EAC Dispute Resolution Mechanism that fully respects the integrity and sovereignty of our Partner States,” the Secretary General said.
Dr. Mathuki called on Partner States to deploy peaceful settlement of any disputes and restrain, strictly observing the spirit of our Treaty and particularly on peaceful co-existence and good neighborliness.
The Secretariat is closely working with the Office of the Chairperson of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State to provide the necessary facilitation towards peaceful resolution of any arising disputes amongst our Partner States.
Rwanda expressed disappointment by Burundi’s decision to close its borders with Rwanda effective January 11,2024, pointing out that Bujumbura’s actions violated regional cooperation conventions.
The Government of Rwanda said the unfortunate decision will restrict the free movement of people and goods between the two countries, and violates the principles of regional cooperation and integration of the East African Community.
The decision followed claims claims made by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, on December 29, that Rwanda supports a Burundian rebel group operating in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of harbouring and training members of RED Tabara, a group responsible for the December 22 attack that left 20 people dead in Gatumba, Western Burundi. The RED-Tabara claimed the said attack in which they said it had killed 10 members of the security forces, and that they never targeted civilians.
Rwanda denies supporting the rebel group which operates from the South Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).