Ugandan traders who hoped to freely resume ferrying their goods to Rwanda again and Rwandan nationals who expected to travel to Uganda once again without being blocked by Rwandan authorities may have to wait a little longer, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame has already defied some of the provisions in the recently signed pact with Uganda.
Initially advancing construction works at Katuna border in February this year, Rwanda blocked several Ugandan cargo trucks from crossing to Rwanda as well as stopping her citizens from entering into Uganda. Other crossing points Cyanika and Kagitumba where Ugandan trucks were directed, were also found blocked.
Kigali has since accused Uganda of among other things incarcerating and deporting her citizens, a claim Uganda dismissed. Ugandan authorities said they followed judicial process to deport some of Rwandan citizens who engaged in criminal acts.
But to ease tensions between the two countries and give a ray of hope for the amicable resolution of the tensions, Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from the Angolan capital, Luanda on Wednesday this week.
Museveni and Kagame agreed to respect each of the two countries’ sovereignty and of neighbouring countries.
Each leader also committed to refrain from subversive activities in the territory of the other and eliminate all factors that may create such perception.The Principals as well resolved to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of the nationals of either party residing or transiting in their national territories, in accordance with laws of their countries and desist from financing, training, and infiltration of destabilising forces.
One of the provisions in the MoU states that: “This Memorandum of Understanding shall enter into force immediately after signature”.
In their communications after the signing, the two leaders pledged to implement the MoU without fail. However, by publication of this story – two days later, Rwandan nationals are blocked by their authorities to come to Uganda.Reports indicate that Katuna border remains closed to Ugandan cargo trucks as has been the case since February this year.The above is contrary to the line in the MoU which provided for resuming of “cross-border activities, including the movement of persons and goods” immediately upon signature.
Rwanda’s local publications close to government have today quoted the Minister in charge of East African affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe saying the travel advisory to Rwandan citizens against traveling to Uganda still stands despite the signed peace and security pact.
“Rwandans can only be allowed to travel to uganda after Uganda releases the arrested Rwandans,” the Minister is quoted as having stated.
Some Rwandans who were arrested for engaging in activities subversive to Uganda’s security have always been deported following judicial process, Ugandan authorities explain.
Rene Rutagungira, an operative of Rwanda’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), were arrested and charged before the General Court Martial for kidnapping of Rwandan refugees from Uganda and repatriating them back to Rwanda.
Knowledgeable sources say Rwanda has made a new demand of Rwandans’ immunity to prosecution of Rwandans in Uganda, a matter that does not appear in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Uganda and Rwanda’s Heads of State on 21st of August, 2019.
A number of Rwandans SoftPower News has spoken to say their hopes of travel to Uganda were dampened when Minister Ondugirehe announced that Rwanda’s ban to Rwandans against travel to Uganda would be upheld in spite of the Luanda MOU that they expected would lead to Rwanda’s opening of the formerly busy Katuna border point to persons and goods.
“I had already packed my bags but now some Rwandans have been harassed for expressing excitement about the possibility of travelling to Uganda,” a Rwandan who spoke on condition of anonymity told SoftPower News.
“I think the government fears that many of us will travel to Uganda and stay there. Why continue to block us even after the signing of the MOU,” another Rwandan told this news website.