Museveni, Kagame meet today to resolve dispute

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (left) with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame after signing an MoU to end the hostility between the two countries in Luanda, Angola, on August 21, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAILY MONITOR

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame will meet today (Friday) at the border town of Katuna to discuss the reopening of the main crossing, a year after Kigali shut it down.

The two mediators, Presidents João Lourenço of Angola and Felix Tshisekedi of the DR Congo, are also expected to attend to oversee the implementation of terms agreed upon in Luanda, the Angolan capital, in August.

The two governments have a long history. Rwandans refugees living in Uganda fought alongside Mr Museveni’s National Resistance Army, which took power in 1986, then supported them to take power in Rwanda in 1994.

This is the lowest point between the two countries since their armies clashed in Kisangani, eastern DR Congo, which they had jointly invaded to remove President Mobutu.

Uganda accuses Rwanda of infiltrating its security agencies and undermining national security, while Kigali accuses Kampala of arresting its nationals and detaining them without trial.

The border closure has affected trade between the two countries and movement of communities at the border many of whom are related.

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Hopes for a resolution of the conflict rose this week after a prisoner swap in which Kigali released 20 Ugandans with Kampala setting free 13 Rwandans as part of the Luanda agreement.

“After assessing the progress, the heads of state will decide on the way forward,” Rwanda’s East African Community Affairs minister Olivier Nduhungirehe told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.

“They will have a one-on-one meeting and come up with a way forward.”

The Luanda agreement also calls for the resumption of cross-border activities, including the movement of persons and goods, which is expected to be the main focus of today’s discussions.

The agreement also called on the two countries to refrain from spying, financing and training of rival armed groups, respect each other’s sovereignty and stop arresting nationals living in either country.

Yesterday, the Daily Monitor reported that Rwandan authorities had raised three new requests to their Ugandan counterparts for consideration before the presidents meet.

Rwanda asked Uganda to withdraw a passport issued to a Rwandan national, Charlotte Mukankusi, who belongs to an opposition group that is outlawed in Kigali.
Many Rwandans have family ties with Uganda, which they use to obtain passports in Kampala.

Rwanda also wants Uganda to investigate Self-Worth Initiative, a human rights organisation based in Kampala, that has been critical of Rwanda over alleged human rights abuses.

Kigali is also pushing Uganda to handover two individuals who allegedly participated in an attack on Rwanda in October in which at least 14 people were killed.

The Daily Monitor reported earlier in the week that the General Court Martial in Makindye had withdrawn charges against the two suspects and they were expected to be handed over to Kigali.

Although the two countries do not have an extradition treaty, the swapping of prisoners, including the expected deportation of the two suspected armed attackers, has been agreed upon to de-escalate tensions.

UGANDA'S DEMANDS

•Stop espionage
•Stop provocative public comments
•Reopen the border
•Release Ugandans in detention

RWANDA'S DEMANDS

•Stop arrests
•Cut ties with dissidents
•Handover suspected rebels

Report by Risdel Kasasira and Kelvin Atuhaire