0836 GMT February 22, 2019
The protesters demonstrated Saturday in the capital, Bujumbura, and two other cities, following a government call to protest against Rwanda’s “acts of aggression” toward Burundi.
“We condemn (Rwandan President Paul) Kagame and his plan to destabilize Burundi,” read a placard waved by one of the protesters.
Ties between Burundi and its northern neighbor deteriorated after Burundi plunged into political crisis ten months ago over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office.
Burundi has accused Rwanda of supporting rebels aiming to overthrow President Nkurunziza, who returned to power in the July 2015 elections, despite weeks of protests that were violently repressed, and calls from world leaders for Nkurunziza to step aside.
The Saturday demonstration in Bujumbura came to a halt outside the Rwandan embassy, where Kagame was booed.
“We are on the battlefield. Encourage our soldiers! Kagame is an enemy, we are going to wash him away,” the crowd sang.
Smaller anti-Rwanda demonstrations were also held in Burundi’s second city of Gitega as well as in Ngozi.
Last week, experts at the United Nations Security Council reported that the Rwandan government had recruited and trained refugees from Burundi, including children, in an effort to topple Nkurunziza.
Rwanda denied the allegations and this week Kigali announced Rwanda’s plans to relocate an estimated 75,000 Burundian refugees in Rwanda to third countries, saying the “long-term presence of refugees so close to their country of origin carries considerable risks.”