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PROTEST NOTE: New low in Uganda-Rwanda relations

Rwanda Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe (left) and Uganda’s international affairs chief Sam Kutesa met in Kigali September 16, 2019

Pact to end months-long standoff still shaky

The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda in August signed an agreement in Angola to ease months of tensions after the two leaders exchanged accusations of spying, political assassinations and meddling.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni were once close allies but their relations have turned deeply hostile in a dispute that damaged trade between the east African neighbours.

The pact got off well, with a meeting of security chiefs and foreign ministers in Kigali in September, but a reciprocal meeting planned for Kampala after 30 days is yet to take place. It is now set for November 18, again moved from November 13 as the Angola Foreign Affairs Minister is committed during that time.

In a press briefing in Kigali at the weekend, Kagame complained about the delay, insisting he will only open the border once the issues on the table are resolved.

Rwanda abruptly closed the border with its northern neighbour in late February, severing a major economic land route.

Soon after in May, Ugandan police accused Rwandan soldiers of entering the country and killing two men.

At the Luanda meeting, the two leaders had agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty and that “of the neighbouring countries”. They also undertook to “refrain from actions conducive to destabilisation or subversion in the territory of the other party (and) acts such as the financing, training and infiltration of destabilising forces”.

The two leaders also agreed to “protect and respect the rights and freedoms” of people “residing or transiting” through their respective countries and to resume cross-border activities “including movement of persons and goods… as soon as possible”.

‘No destabilisation or subversion’ 

In the May meeting, Museveni said: “Uganda is fully committed to enforcing this agreement” which is set “to improve the political and economic relations between our countries”.

“We have agreed on a raft of issues… largely meant to improve our security, trade and political relations,” he said.

Heads of state including Angolan President Joao Lourenco, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi — who facilitated the talks — as well as Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso witnessed the signing in the Angolan capital Luanda.

Lourenco hailed the accord saying it showed the two leaders’ “willingness to overcome conflict”.

“You are a great example of how our continent should solve our differences, fears, disputes and conflicts… through dialogue,” said Lourenco.

Left unresolved, the row between the two leaders would risk dragging in their neighbours, threatening economic integration and regional stability in an already conflict-prone swathe of the continent.

The standoff escalated dramatically in March when Rwanda publicly accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels bent on overthrowing the government.

Apart from a brief interlude in June the frontier has remained mainly shut, damaging the economies of both countries reliant on cross-border trade.

Museveni — who has admitted meeting, but not endorsing, anti-Kagame rebels — harbours his own suspicions about his erstwhile ally. His officials have accused Rwandans in Uganda of spying, and some have been detained or deported.



  1. These kind of protests yield nothing. When Rwanda accused uganda of arresting rwandese, Rwanda closed the border. Had it been uganda which killed a Rwandese uganda embassy would have been closed. But the weak uganda, they can only say empty words. What is in the ” strongest terms possible”? Nothing. Tommorrow Rwanda will shoot more. I suggest that Ugandans keep off Rwanda territory, they are dead serious

  2. Alexander Ham Male

    If it is not allegation that Rwanda security agents shot dead unarmed Ugandan smugglers of tobacco, should be condemned. Perhaps there was d sign of misconduct by security agents which should be investigated. They should have arrested them for prosecution rather than shooting them to death. Revenge not and embark on building diplomatic relations in d region for peace and trade. In that aspect, the possibility of opening new trade routes linking Uganda, Congo and DRC is expected. Keep God’s principle and revenge not neither protest.

  3. Any way, only God will resolve this issue, otherwise son of men` are becoming deadly.

  4. Only God will save us, otherwise, son of men are becoming deadly

  5. Insincere behavior and attitudes will not deliver meaningful settlement of differences and or evalasting peace! Do these men ever look at each other in the eye and say the truth? Shame on both of them or one of them! Someday we will be reading who was insincere, who lied, etc, For now let both men look at themselves in their respective mirrors and change their ways, the people of their respective countries, will forgive them and forge ahead. There people out there who wish Rwanda and Uganda went to war! It is time to take sides; I don’t, what about you?

    President Museveni and President Kagame are very respectable men, even globally in their humble ways! President Museveni’s management of AIDS scourge in Uganda, his support for Rwanda during the genocide against the Tutsi, and the progress Uganda has registered are deeds that deserve global accolades. On the other hand President Kageme’s personal military effort in the fight against genocidal forces, supported by, you know who, was described by the famed Gen.Dallaire as a study case for future small scale intense engements, (I stand to be corrected), to crown all that, Rwanda has made incredible progress in such a short time, that many people are happy to be associated with! There is no doubt that there is prosperity in both countries, whic is pleasure for both peoples’ nations. Both Presidents need to watch out for people who wish they went to War.

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