Rwandan President Paul Kagame dismissed accusations on Tuesday that he was supporting efforts by a rebel group to recruit Burundian refugees, calling the charges “childish.”
The accusations, which emerged earlier this month, highlighted tensions between the central African neighbours, which each have an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority and a similar history of being torn apart by ethnic conflict.
“I think this is just childish,” Kagame told a news conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
More than 220,000 people have fled Burundi since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term sparked a failed coup and months of protests. Hundreds have been killed amid growing fears that the nation could be headed to civil war.
Rwanda says more than 73,000 Burundians are now on its soil.
Earlier this month, the charity Refugees International issued a report stating that Burundian refugees in Rwanda were being recruited by “non-state armed groups.”
Edouard Nduwimana, deputy speaker of Burundi’s national assembly, told parliament on Monday that Rwanda was “destabilising our country through recruitments, trainings and equipping elements of the coup-plotters with weapons.”
But Kagame appeared to reject the Refugees International report, saying non-governmental organizations have levelled baseless, politically-motivated allegations against Burundi.