Rwanda has reacted to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s remarks on Tuesday that the border impasse will be resolved, saying that the border closure is not the main concern as the two neighbours seek to resolve the differences that have affected bilateral relations.
President Museveni is quoted by Ugandan media saying that mutual talks between Uganda and Rwanda to revive the cross border trade between the countries are ongoing but Rwandan officials have dismissed his remarks, pointing out the border issue is not one of the problems that have affected relations over the last couple of years.
Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of the East African Community (EAC) Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe said on Wednesday that the closure of Gatuna One Stop Border Post to big trucks in February is not one of the challenges affecting the two countries.
“We explained the issue very clearly and many times. We have no border issue with Uganda,” Amb. Nduhungirehe told KT Press.
“The three problems we have with Uganda are; Support to terrorist organizations against Rwanda, illegal arrest and torture of Rwandan citizens in Uganda and economic sabotage,” he added.
On July 12, in a meeting held in Luanda, Angola, under the auspices of the host President João Lourenço and Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo, attended by President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, both countries expressed ‘willingness’ to have a dialogue to resolve the ongoing situation.
Alluding to the meeting in Angola, President Museveni, speaking in the South western district of Kabale said that the two countries are working on the challenges affecting relations but did not talk about three concerns Rwanda has frequently raised with Kampala.
“Recently we met the Rwandan leader in Angola and we discussed about the border issue. Leave it to us. Talks shall continue until the matter is completely resolved. It does not make sense to keep talking on radios but what is important is to ensure that the border issue is resolved,” Mr Museveni said. “[The issue] took me to Angola to meet President [Paul] Kagame [Rwanda’s president] and other leaders and I will not reveal what we discussed,” President Museveni is quoted.
Rwanda maintains that the key issues Uganda should address include the arrest, detention, torture and killing of Rwandans inside Uganda by security organs and end support to rebel groups, mainly the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which is said to have heavy presence in Uganda.
Last week, the Government of Rwanda sent a note to Kampala seeking explanations on the arrest of 40 Rwandans picked from a church in the suburb of Kibuye. The arrest of the born-again Christians has been since linked to RNC which is reported to have orchestrated the operation conducted by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Rwanda further maintains that the closure of Gatuna OSBP February, which saw heavy trucks diverted to Kagitumba OSBP and Cyanika, was to allow the construction of the border facility. It was briefly opened in June for 10 days for inspection but closed again to allow more works.
The Government of Rwanda maintains that the Ugandan government should address the aforementioned concerns if relations must go back to normal.
Kampala on the other hand maintains that the arrested individuals, majority of whom remain in jails, are suspected to be involved in acts of espionage while others entered the country illegally.
Rwanda denies these accusations, stating that most of the people arrested, including those deported back to Rwanda have legally entered Uganda and engage in legal business but they are targeted by Ugandan security organs and RNC operatives who seek to recruit them.
In February, Rwanda advised her citizens not to travel to Uganda for their own safety. The impasse has affected free movement of people and goods but following the Luanda meeting, optimism remains that the two countries can resolve outstanding issues and restore ties.