The British high commissioner to Uganda Peter West has advised Uganda and Rwanda to resolve the current standoff between the two countries through dialogue.
The tension between Uganda and Rwanda has been growing in the recent past and climaxed with the closure of the Gatuna and Chanika borders by the Rwandan authorities last week on Wednesday. At the time of the closure, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) said the move was to pave way for the upgrading of the one stop border post at Gatuna.
But while debate raged over the sudden decision, Rwanda cautioned its nationals against traveling to Uganda. Rwandan ministers accused Uganda of illegally detaining their nationals, enforcing the deportation of hundreds and denying others entry.
Olivier Nduhungirehe Rwanda’s state minister in charge of East African Community said that there are more than 40 Rwandan citizens languishing in cells controlled by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Similarly, Richard Sezibera, the Rwandan minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation also said that Rwandans are strongly advised not to travel to Uganda due to ongoing arrests, harassment and torture and incarceration without consular access.
Uganda has however refuted the allegations saying the Rwandans under arrest are criminals just like others, arguing that no Rwandan has been targeted. Today, buses travelling from Kigali reported that they had been stopped from carrying Rwandan nationals from Kigali to Uganda. Those found with Rwandan nationals aboard were fined up to $5,000 (about Shs 18m). Rwanda also doubled the amount of tax levied on Ugandan trucks from RF 200,000 (about Shs 860,000) to RF 400,000 (Shs 1.7m).
Earlier today, heavily armed Rwandan security forces could be seen patrolling along the border lines and hills near Uganda. Uganda government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said Rwanda was free to deploy when and as they wish within their borders, so long as it doesn’t signal of provocation.
Rwanda’s army spokesperson Innocent Munyengango told RFI that he had “no comment” on reports that Rwanda had deployed along Rwanda-Uganda border.
In the wake of the events, West says Rwanda and Uganda need to amicably resolve the matters that could have triggered animosity between the two neighbouring countries. West made the statement in an interview with this publication on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Youth Conference held in Kampala today.
“I think the best thing is a dialogue between the two countries. Resolving it in a bilateral way is probably the answer for that,” West said.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that Rwanda has told its citizens not to go to Uganda over the allegations of deportation and arrest of Rwandans, Rwandan delegates are among those attending the Commonwealth Youth Conference on inclusion at the Parliament of Uganda. The three delegates are part of the youth from 15 African countries.
Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson says Uganda welcomes and is conducive and secure to every Rwandan who is in Uganda and intends to come.