Rwanda and Uganda are set to hold talks virtually this Thursday with the facilitation of Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the two countries look to resume discussions to resolve matters which have affected their bilateral relations.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Dr Vincent Biruta confirmed to KT Press that the talks will resume Thursday with the 4th meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission to pave way for the 5th Quadripartite summit following the last one held at Gatuna/Katuna Common Board in February.
Talks between the two countries were expected to resume 45 days after the Gatuna meeting but the New Coronavirus outbreak led to the suspension of all activities.
“It is true we are going to meet,” Dr Biruta confirmed. The Ministry also confirmed that talks will pick up from what had previously been agreed upon.
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,” the communique from Gatuna read.
Last month, Dr Biruta said that despite Uganda showing mixed signals, relations between the two countries were on the mend despite the COVID-19 outbreak hampering the progress the two countries had made.
Dr Biruta said that the pandemic struck when the countries had agreed on the next steps during the last summit but the schedule was interrupted by the outbreak of New Coronavirus.
He, however, said the countries have been discussing to see how to proceed with the talks using other means such as virtual meetings.
“We have been talking to Uganda and Angola, particularly, assessing how we can continue with the talks using moder
n technology which can allow the Ad Hoc Commission to meet again and agree on what we can address among the resolutions we agreed on in the meantime as we wait for travel to be possible,”
“We are looking at how we can resolve some of these issues we discussed much as meetings are not possible yet and see what we can do next when the COVID-19 situation subsides,” Dr Biruta said on May 15.
He said Rwanda has been receiving mixed signals from Uganda where on one hand there are Ugandan officials on Twitter proclaiming that things are getting better while on the other hand, more Rwandans are being arrested in Uganda.
At the time, Dr Biruta said that about 174 Rwandans were supposed to be released and sent home but KT Press understands that the gesture never happened. There was no communication on the planned release. The issue will be among those that will be tabled during the Thursday meeting.
Dr Biruta told journalists that Rwanda looks to build on positive signals to move towards restoring ties with Uganda.
On the reopening of Gatuna One Stop Border Post, Minister Biruta said that it was part of the conversation in the previous summit held at Gatuna/Katuna Common Border in February and when the right time comes, it will be reopened to allow the smooth flow of goods from the northern country.
However, he said the free movement of people will largely depend on how the countries manage to deal with New Coronavirus and ensure the safety of citizens.
Both President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni confirmed that they have been talking on a regular basis on how the two countries can contain cross-border COVID-19 cases particularly linked to truck drivers.