The fate of the Quadripartite Summit aimed at resolving issues between Rwanda and Uganda hangs in balance as countries involved in the peace process shift focus to fighting the rampaging New Coronavirus.
With Rwanda and Uganda both battling cases of COVID-19 and facilitators Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola also racing against time to control the spread of the virus, talks to resolve the crisis between the two countries will have to wait until the pandemic subsides.
Following the 4th Quadripartite Summit that was held on February 21 at Gatuna/Katuna Common Border between Rwanda and Uganda, it had been agreed that Kampala would investigate the allegations raised by Rwanda in 30 days and provide a report.
In 15 days, the summit would convene again at the same venue, with the purpose of fully operationalizing the border post, among other things.
“The Summit recommended that the Republic of Uganda should, within one month, verify the allegations of the Republic of Rwanda about action from its territory by forces hostile to the Government of Rwanda,”
“If these allegations are proved, the Ugandan Government will take all measures to stop it and prevent it from happening again. This action must be verified and confirmed by the Ad-Hoc Ministerial Commission for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding of Luanda,”
But with the outbreak of New Coronavirus, with Rwanda already having registered 36 cases and Uganda 9, the two countries have directed efforts to fight the pandemic and containing it. The 30 days elapsed on March 22.
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in charge of the East African Community (EAC) Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe told KT Press that the summit was called off for countries to focus on Coronavirus, but said that Uganda should use the opportunity to comprehensively investigate Rwanda’s concerns and act upon them.
“All meetings were suspended because of Coronavirus, but we advised Uganda to take this opportunity to implement decisions of the Gatuna Summit. And for this, we don’t need to meet,” Nduhungirehe said.
Nduhungirehe said that with the COVID-19 outbreak, countries are now focused on handling the pandemic whose impact has swept across the world.
Rwanda officially closed all border points on Saturday, March 21, stopping all unnecessary movements, urging people to stay at home and observe the government measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
Uganda on Monday confirmed 8 new cases bringing the total to 9 while Rwanda on Monday announced the highest number of Coronavirus positive cases in one go -17, bringing the total to 36. DRC, on the other hand, has registered 45 cases while Angola has so far confirmed 3 cases.
Nduhungirehe said Rwanda wrote to Uganda expressing the need to call off the talks until further notice.
Among other things, Kampala was expected to address concerns by Rwanda of armed groups fighting the Rwandan government operating in Uganda and disband the cells of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) terror group which are active in the East African country.
All prospects of the two countries restoring bilateral ties have been put on hold by the outbreak of the virus which has so far claimed 17, 147 lives and affected 392, 286 people. 103, 389 people have recovered from the virus.
All flights in and out of Kigali have been halted while President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is also expected to issue new directives as Uganda moves to contain the increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases.