Burundi Demands Talks With Rwanda on Alleged Rebel Training

Burundi called for talks with Rwanda following allegations its East African neighbor is backing rebels against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.

Discussions with Rwanda are “urgent” and a mediator must be appointed, Gaston Sindimwo, Burundi’s first vice president, said on national television. Sudan has suggested it could play a mediation role, he said.

Sindimwo cited accusations by unspecified people that Rwanda is recruiting and training rebels from refugee camps hosting Burundians. Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo didn’t answer two phone calls and a text message seeking comment. President Paul Kagame has previously described such claims as “childish.”

The U.S. last week expressed concern that Rwanda could be training rebels to fight in Burundi, where more than 440 people have died since Nkurunziza decided in April to stand for a third term. Landlocked Burundi and Rwanda are members of the East African Community, a five-nation bloc with a combined gross domestic product of $147.5 billion.

Rwanda said after the U.S.’s comments that it seeks to relocate Burundian refugees to a third country. The United Nations Refugee Agency later said Rwandan officials vowed to respect the country’s international obligations and wouldn’t close borders or forcibly expel Burundians who’d fled there.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry has worked on an initiative to mediate Burundi and Rwanda’s dispute and will make contact with Kagame’s government, the North African country’s SUNA news agency reported Tuesday.

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