A delicate truce in Uganda-Rwanda relations

By our reporter

On February 21, expectations were high among the Ugandan and Rwandan citizens that the border connecting the two countries that has remained shut for exactly a year would be re-opened as Presidents; Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame held their fourth meeting mediated by their Angola and DRC counterparts, at Katuna one stop-border post.

The Katuna border is an important point for the two countries as it facilitates trade between Kigali and the rest of the East African countries.

However, the meeting that was meant to reduce tensions between the two countries may not achieve much due to the outcomes. The meeting was also attended by Angola’s President Joao Lorenco and Felix Tshisekedi –who had held meetings with Kagame and Museveni in Angola in 2019 and three weeks ago.

A communique issued from the Katuna meeting recommended that Uganda “verify” allegations made by Rwanda about the existence of hostile forces towards Rwanda in Uganda.

The communique stated that this verification process should be done in one month from the Feb. 21 meeting.

“If these allegations are proved, the Ugandan government will take all measures to stop it and prevent it from happening again” the communique reads in paragraph 4.

The action later must be verified by the Ad-Hoc Ministerial Commission for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding of Luanda, Angola.

It is upon fulfilling this recommendation that another summit will be held at Katuna in fifteen days for the border re-opening having reached a compromise by both sides. This means all the issues need to be ironed out in 45 days.

During the latest summit, Uganda signed an extradition treaty with Rwanda. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa signed the treaty with his Rwandan counterpart, Vincent Biruta.

There were also reports that during a meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali two weeks ago, Rwandan minister of state for East African Community (EAC) Olivier Nduhungirehe told a visiting Ugandan delegation that their government should fire some of its security honchos like Chieftaincy Military intelligence (CMI) boss Abel Kandiho on claims that he was working against Rwanda.

Nduhungirehe reiterated that Uganda should renounce its support for Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a political party headed by Maj. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa who fell out with Kagame and now lives in South Africa. The allegation has been severally dismissed by Ugandan authorities.

However, those who have been following the summit and negotiations predict that there might be more summits held before anything close to a border reopening is done citing unending demands from Rwanda.

Some demand, commentators, say might not be fulfilled.

So far, Kampala has handed over 22 Rwandese nationals who were in Ugandan prisons for various offences as a condition for re-opening the borders. It is also estimated that more than a dozen Ugandan citizens are languishing in Rwandan prisons, according to reports.

Relations between the two East African countries have soured in the last one year following tit-for-tat accusations of espionage and political meddling.

Rwanda also stopped its citizens from crossing to Uganda over allegations of arbitrary detentions of Rwandans and torture in Uganda, accusations Uganda has vehemently denied.

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