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Media Diplomacy: Rwanda Accuses Uganda of Channelling Diplomatic Issues Through the Media

by Edmund Kagire
10:10 am


Ugandan delegation during a recent meeting in Kigali.

Ahead of the second meeting of the AdHoc Commission to review the implementation of the Luanda Agreement, Rwanda has yet again accused Uganda of addressing diplomatic issues through the media, which goes against the spirit of the resolutions of the first meeting that took place in Kigali.

Last week during a press conference, President Paul Kagame alluded to Rwanda learning about the dates of the next meeting aimed at following up on the progress of the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, which set out the terms the two countries have to follow in the reconciliation process

Following last weekend’s shooting of two Ugandans suspected of smuggling goods into Rwanda through illegal entry points, Uganda reportedly sent a protest note seeking explanations on the incident during which Job Ebindishanga and Bosco Tuhirirwe from Kamwezi Sub-County were fatally shot by Police.

Rwanda National Police (RNP) said the duo turned violent after they were intercepted smuggling goods into Rwanda in Tabagwe Sector, Nyagatare district, while others escaped back to Uganda.

Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage said on Wednesday that Uganda’s grievances were yet again channelled through the media, bypassing diplomatic channels through which issues are addressed.

“The circumstances have been explained, the engagements can be made, whatever engagements we want to talk about, whether it is investigations or whatever. It cannot be done in the media, whether it is in the media centre or The New Vision or the Monitor,” Mugambage told NBS TV.

“It has to be done by responsible people,” he added.

A statement signed by the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, Ofwono Opondo has been making rounds on social media.

Opondo has in the recent past faced accusations of fanning the fire between the two countries through reckless statements made on social media and promoting propaganda articles attacking Rwanda.

The New Vision, owned by the government has also been accused of spewing articles that are hostile to Rwanda, including giving space to Rwanda National Congress (RNC) members to air their propaganda attacking the Rwandan government.

Article 5 of the Kigali resolutions stated that both countries would cease all forms of hostile propaganda in both mainstream and social media.

“The right channels to use in raising issues, any issues, are very clear. They are known. It is not about the media. It is about raising these issues through the known channels. Certainly, diplomatic channels, not the media…this is not how we should be working,” Mugambage said.

Mugambage said the protest note issued by Uganda does not mention the circumstances under which the shooting happened, which Rwanda explained, nor does it mention the communication from the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Kigali.

Mugambage said that the High Commission is working with the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organise the next meeting of the AdHoc Commission scheduled for next Monday, which he believes is the right platform to address issues.

“We are waiting for that meeting to happen. Since it is their turn to organise, we keep asking and we want that meeting to happen,” he said, adding that whatever issues that must be discussed will be raised in that meeting.

President Kagame last Friday said that addressing diplomatic issues through the media before they get to the concerned party has its own implications on the process.

Ahead of the Monday meeting, Uganda is yet to release hundreds of Rwandans jailed in the East African country as it had been agreed in the September meeting in Kigali.

President Kagame said that only a few have been released, less than 40 of more than 200, and more have since been arrested. None has been arraigned in courts of law.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe said yesterday that for Uganda to request a list of Rwandans jailed in the country is tantamount to pretence because Kampala knows all of them and where they are detained.

During the meeting in Kigali, Rwanda and Uganda agreed to resolve the outstanding issues which have affected relations between the two countries.

The next meeting was scheduled for November 13 but later moved to November 18 because the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa was not available.

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