Police in Burundi have stopped many private buses from crossing the border into Rwanda, as tensions between the neighbours remain high.
Buses of transport companies like Yahoo Car, Volcano and Horizon left the capital Bujumbura on Thursday morning, but were stopped for several hours by police on the border.
The passengers, mostly from Burundi and Rwanda, had to get out of the buses and walk across the border with their luggage to take other buses on the Rwanda side of the border, said a spokesperson for Yahoo Car.
“Some of our buses were obliged to go back to Bujumbura,” he added.
National Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye told reporters that this was done to put into practice the Burundi government’s measure forbidding exporting Burundian food crops to neighbouring countries, which came into force a week ago.
“Those companies had repeatedly violated the measure by transporting food across Rwanda from Burundi,” said Nkurikiye.
However, he did not exclude the possibility of security reasons being behind the decision. He also acknowledged that the ban applied only to transport crossing into Rwanda.
“The armed groups which destabilize Burundi come from Rwanda by those companies,” claimed Nkurikiye.
Burundi accuses Rwanda of providing support to rebel Burundians who are trying to topple President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.
Burundi has been plagued by instability and low-level violence since Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 that he was running for a third term as president despite the two-term limit in the constitution.
A week ago, Burundi’s Second Vice President Joseph Butore visited Cibitoke province, bordering Rwanda. He instructed police and customs officials not to allow exports of Burundian food into Rwanda.
“We cannot sell to Rwanda what we produce ourselves because that country wants to fight against us,” said Butore.
– African News Agency (ANA)