Ugandan gov’t officials downplay Uganda – Rwanda tension reports

Ugandan gov't officials downplay Uganda - Rwanda tension reports
Uganda government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo refutes high tensions between Uganda and Rwanda instead calls for calm bilateral relations

The Government has acknowledged Uganda is experiencing a normal disagreement with neighbors Rwanda, which however is inconsequential to the solid relationship between the two countries.

The statement came after the blockage of cargo trucks that were heading to Rwanda from Uganda at Gatuna border on Thursday. The government of Rwanda said, in a statement issued by the Rwanda Revenue Authority that the move was to allow the upgrading of the One Stop Border Post at Gatuna.

According to Rwanda Revenue Authority, the switch was meant to give the contractor ample time and space to accomplish the work on time. Subsequently, the Uganda Revenue Authority advised that all trucks going to Rwanda should go through Mirama hills – Kagitumba Border.

But Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo doubted the detail by the Rwandan authorities. He said that the government had also learnt that Rwanda was preventing some of her people from crossing into Uganda for education and health services. He said that if the closure of the border post was to allow construction works, they wouldn’t have prevented people from coming to Uganda

However, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello says that Uganda has a long, special and unique history with Rwanda, adding that all will return to normal at some point.
In an interview, Oryem said that contrary to speculation, Uganda and Rwanda may be at an inconsequential point of bitterness because Uganda, Rwanda relations can live the test of time.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda told Parliament on Thursday that what is happening between the borders of Uganda and Rwanda is sad, but Government is working to resolve the crisis.

There has been simmering tension between Rwanda and Uganda with Rwanda accusing Uganda of aiding dissidents against the Kigali regime. Recently, President Paul Kagame told journalists that the tension between the two countries was because Uganda had opted to listen to rumors by Rwandan exiles in South Africa other than what Kigali is saying.

Rwanda Response

In a statement, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) attributed the closure of Gatuna border to the on-going upgrading of the one-stop border post.

The statement dated February 28, signed by Rosine Uwamariya, RRA commissioner for customs services addressed to the commissioner for customs at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), RRA indicates that heavy trucks will be diverted to Kagitumba/Mirama border post in Ntungamo district.

Uwamariya explains the diversion is temporary and aimed at reducing traffic at Gatuna to allow completion of the border post works. Uwamariya says that the diversion which has no time frame will provide the contractor ample space to accomplish works on time.

Relations between Rwanda and Uganda have been gradually been deteriorating over time with counter accusations of murder, torture, espionage, kidnap of each others nationals.

Last month Uganda deported a Rwandan national and the former MTN Uganda general manager sales and distribution, Annie Bilenge Tabura alongside Olivier Prentout over allegations of compromising Ugandan security. In a recent interview with the East African, Rwanda President Paul Kagame warned that the deportation of Rwandans was unfortunate and regrettable and ought to stop.

“It is very intriguing to find that, even with the history (between the two countries) and a good foundation, we have something like this [deportations] going on. And it goes on every day, even as we speak. It is hard to just put it in one word, or even a few words. All I can say is that it’s a matter that can be resolved. That must be resolved. Because the alternative is not something that we should even be thinking about, or entertaining,” President Kagame is quoted as saying.

Kagame said Uganda was being fed and misled on wrong intel by Rwandan dissents based in South Africa.