The East African Community secretariat has appealed to the partner states to avoid actions that affect the people of the region and suffocate development.
This comes after Burundi closed its border with Rwanda on Thursday, leaving dozens of vehicles stranded.
Last month, Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye accused Rwanda of harboring the Red Tabara rebels which have been fighting his government since 2015.
Kigali refuted the allegations as false and unfounded, adding the border closure violated the principles of a regional bloc both states are part of.
Burundi said the rebels in December killed 20 people in the country, but the rebels said they had killed only nine government soldiers.
“This 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,” said a statement from the spokesperson of the Rwanda government.
Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General said on Friday that the bloc was formed based on cooperation amongst members as the only way to achieve its development objectives.
“Accordingly, all East African Community Partner States are urged to strive to achieve harmonious cooperation in their undertakings to ensure the people of East Africa remain at the center of our integration,” Mathuki said.
The SG explained that the Community’s operational principles provide that, its integration is people-centered and that all its undertakings should therefore 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,” he appealed.
In the last four years, the people of Rwanda have been barred from crossing into three of the neighboring countries: Uganda, DR Congo, and twice Burundi.
In the case of Uganda, Kigali closed the border in early 2019 accusing Kampala of aiding Rwandan fugitives and arbitrary detaining and deporting her citizens. The border was later reopened.
In 2022, DRC closed the border twice after her soldiers were killed in attacks suspected to be based on the Rwandan side.
“I, therefore, encourage our esteemed Partner States to deploy peaceful settlement of any disputes and be restrained, strictly observing the spirit of our Treaty and particularly on peaceful co-existence and good neighborliness,” Mathuki said.
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.