In an interview that was aired by Al Jazeera recently, President Paul Kagame spoke about bilateral relations with Uganda, yet again getting to the root cause of the tensions between the two countries that started in 2017.
The Head of State, who was interviewed by ‘Talk to Al Jazeera’ host Ali Al-Dhafiri, spoke about a number of issues, including the country’s progress, the unfair criticism his government faces and Rwanda’s presence in Mozambique, among other issues.
In the interview, President Kagame spoke in categorical terms about the country’s relations with neighbouring Uganda, pointing out that while Rwanda is still open to resolving issues with Kampala, ‘it takes two to tango’, in a way accusing Uganda of not cooperating.
Asked whether outstanding issues are yet to be dealt with, President Kagame said ‘not yet’, adding that there are a number of issues that must be resolved by both countries if things are to get back on track.
“Well, it takes two to tango. I guess both countries will continue searching for a solution to the problems that still exist,”
“We understand the root cause, therefore we should be able to find the way forward and a better understanding than we have had in the recent past,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame said that the two countries have had opportunities in the past to discuss some of the problems openly, including the border closure, which some people have made the issue, but for Rwanda the main issue is what led to the closure of the border.
“For us the problem is what actually led to the closure of the border that needs to be answered before the border as such is open,”
“We have a situation where Rwandans suffer or are not allowed to go to Uganda to do their business normally. The Establishment in Uganda simply hunts down Rwandans wherever they find them,” President Kagame said, adding that they have all kinds of pretexts they put forth to arrest them.
Among the claims he cited is the issue of insecurity which Uganda alleges is caused by Rwandans but President Kagame said the issue has been raised with Kampala several times to no avail.
For Rwanda, he said, the actions by Kampala are tantamount to persecution rather than anything originating from Rwandans that go to Uganda.
He added that when Ugandans come to Rwanda, they do not experience the same hardships as Rwandans do when they go to Uganda. He s
“The question here is, if you are talking about border closure, the border is for people who cross back and forth,” President Kagame said, emphasizing the issue of safety of nationals who go to Uganda and get arrested.
Talking to President Museveni
During the interview, President Kagame also revealed that he has not spoken to his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in a while.
“We used to talk to one another, but of late it has more or less stopped,” President Kagame said, indicating that it won’t be happening soon, perhaps until the outstanding issues are resolved.
“Talking isn’t just talking for the sake of it. We talk because we relate and have few things together.” President Kagame said.
Since 2017, Rwanda has accused Uganda of harassing Rwandans who visit or live in the country legally, arresting them on fabricated charges of espionage and also accuses Kampala of backing groups that are intent on destabilizing the country.
President Kagame also recently accused a neighbouring country of manipulating and misleading Eric Gisa Rwigema, the son of the Late Maj. Gen Fred Gisa Rwigema, with many pointing an accusatory finger to Uganda.
Uganda on the other hand continues to deport hundreds of Rwandans, including casual labourers, dumping them by the border, accusing them of espionage or illegally staying in the East African country.
Talks between the two countries facilitated by Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the Quadripartite Summit have stalled since the Covid-19 outbreak.