Despite several meetings held to restore cordial bilateral relations with Uganda, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dr. Vincent Biruta says the situation has not changed.
Dr. Biruta said that to restore relations with Uganda, there must be a political will from the neighbor in the north.
“The situation has not changed very much, but as the government of Rwanda, we stand ready to restore good relations with all the neighbors including Uganda. For us to do that, we need political will from our neighbor, we need to address issues that have been discussed for many years now; the harassment of Rwandans who cross to Uganda or living there,” Dr. Biruta said.
“Issues to discuss also include supporting negative groups which aim at destabilizing our country, we are ready to build a consultative relationship, but there should be a political will,” he noted.
Dr. Biruta explained about the fruitless meetings with the Ugandan government on restoring relationships during a press briefing on the state of the East African Community (EAC), international affairs, and the regional efforts to fight COVID-19.
Rwanda’s government has been accusing Uganda of harboring and supporting several subversive groups including P5, FNL, and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), among others, that reportedly remain active in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To solve the matters, rounds of bilateral talks over the current standoff between the two neighbors have been conducted under a framework dubbed Luanda Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), but Dr. Biruta announced that the efforts are fruitless, so far.
The talks of the Joint Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda MoU were meant to review progress made since President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni signed the agreement in September 2019.
Angolan President João Lourenço and Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, the facilitators of the talks between Rwanda and Uganda advised the two states to discuss matters that have stressed their relations over the last few years with greater openness.
Rwanda-Burundi Relations Improving
According to Dr. Biruta, talks that have been ongoing between Rwanda and Burundi are improving though there is “some work to do”.
“The Head of Military intelligence services have been meeting, they have met more than once, two times. We shall keep engaging with the government of Burundi. So far, there is some progress,” Dr. Biruta said.
“Other actions will follow after the visit of the Prime Minister to Burundi,” he noted.
Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente who visited Burundi this month during the country’s 59th Independence celebrations said that Bujumbura was ready to play its part in the efforts to fully restore ties.
Speaking during the event, President of Burundi Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye said that having a delegation from Rwanda as they celebrated 59 years of independence was a strong signal of a new chapter in the relations of the two countries.
The two countries look forward to normalizing relations which deteriorated since 2015.
Rwanda and Burundi’s efforts to restore relations have has been on agenda since a couple of years ago.
In October last year, Dr. Biruta and his Burundian counterpart, Albert Shingiro, met at Nemba One-Stop Border Post to discuss ways of normalizing relations.
Rwanda and Burundi have a lot in common; culture, language, and both gained independence from Belgium on the same day – July 1, 1962.
Their relations were poisoned after Burundi accused Rwanda of accommodating those who sought to sabotage its security which Rwanda denied.
Rwanda in return accuses Burundi of facilitating negative groups that have been infiltrating in Rwanda, killing innocent civilians and looting their belongings.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente attended the 59th anniversary of Burundi Independence Day, where he reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to consolidate and promote existing relations of friendship and cooperation with Burundi.
— Office of the PM | Rwanda (@PrimatureRwanda) July 1, 2021