Rwanda has requested that the second meeting of the Ad-hoc Commission on the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier scheduled for November 18 in Kampala, be postponed.
This was Thursday revealed by Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo in a tweet.
“The media is hereby informed that the second meeting of the Adhoc Commission on Luanda MoU between Uganda and Rwanda scheduled for November 18, 2019 in Kampala has been postponed at the request of Rwanda. A new date will be communicated,” reads Opondo’s tweet.
The engagements are part of the efforts to normalise relations between the two countries which have been frosty since February this year when Rwanda closed Katuna border post Initially advancing construction works.
The Rwandan authorities blocked several Ugandan cargo trucks from crossing to Rwanda as well as stopping Rwandan citizens from entering into Uganda. Other crossing points Cyanika and Kagitumba where Ugandan trucks were directed, were also found blocked. President Kagame would later reveal that the move was political.
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.
As such, Rwanda has maintained blocking her citizens from traveling to Uganda by road including school going individuals. In fact, Rwandan security personnel at the crossing points have on some occasions shot at their nationals found crossing to or from Uganda.
On July 12, Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, signed a peace deal in Luanda, Angola, both of whom made commitments aimed at resolving the stalemate.
In Luanda, the two leaders agreed among other things 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, this to be implemented with immediate effect.
However, days later, Rwanda’s Minister in charge of East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, said the travel advisory to Rwandan citizens against traveling to Uganda was still standing despite the signed peace and security pact.
“Rwandans can only be allowed to travel to Uganda after Uganda releases the arrested Rwandans,” Nduhungirehe said, signaling what many commentators described as a lack of will to restore normalcy by Rwandan authorities.
In September, the first Ad-hoc Commission meeting to follow up on the Luanda resolutions was in Kigali, attended by delegations from Uganda and Rwanda.
During the Kigali engagement, Rwanda provided a list of Rwandans detained in Uganda and Uganda committed to verify the information for the purpose of processing those named through due judicial process and releasing those against whom n evidence of criminal conduct will have been found.
Also, both parties agreed that due process will be followed in dealing with each other’s citizens.
Both Uganda and Rwanda reiterated their commitment to refraining from any acts of destabilization against each other, after which the two parties resolved to hold a second follow up meeting in Kampala on October 16 to review the progress of the implementation of the Luanda MoU, but it did not happen.
Shunning the November 18 meeting is a contradiction on the side of Rwanda since President Kagame a couple of days ago committed to being present for talks at anytime and date they are scheduled.
While addressing the press last week, Kagame said his government is not privy to reasons why the Kampala meeting (October 16) hit a snag.
“There was supposed to be a meeting in Uganda, 30 days after the meeting in Kigali. The 30 days were supposed to end on 16th of October, it didn’t happen. I don’t know. I’m not fully knowledgeable why it didn’t happen but I’m fully aware that it didn’t happen,” Kagame said.
“The official communication about the meeting that was supposed to be taking place on 16th of October, now being suggested for 13th of November did not reach us until we read it in the newspapers. Then after reading it in the papers, we received the official letter”.
“That has its own meaning that I’m not knowledgeable about”.
He said Rwanda got another invitation that the November 13 meeting might not be taking place and was instead moved to November 18.
“We are okay with whichever dates anyone suggests or even if someone says we don’t want any meeting, we will respect that”.
This week, government protested the killing of two Ugandan male adults by Rwanda’s security personnel on grounds that they were suspected to smuggle goods into Rwanda but allegedly became violent and assaulted police officers who had intercepted them.
“The Government of Uganda protests in the strongest terms the murder of its nationals by Rwandan security personnel for allegedly being involved in smuggling of goods across the common border. The alleged crime cannot justify the high handed and criminal act by the Rwandan security personnel, against unarmed civilians residing along the common border,” reads the statement in parts by Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo.
But Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda Frank Mugambage, on Wednesday condemned the move by Ofwono Opondo to express Uganda’s protest in the media, saying it undermines the Luanda MoU.
It is not yet clear whether this is part of the reason why Rwanda has stayed away from this meeting.