Why Uganda President Museveni snubbed AU summit in Rwanda

Wednesday March 21 2018

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (left) and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni. Uganda and Rwanda have a long-held love-hate relationship. PHOTO | PRESIDENCY

By The EastAfrican

Uganda's President Museveni cancelled his trip to Kigali on Monday for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signing over security concerns.

Daily Monitor reported that Ugandan and Rwandan security teams charged with mapping out the president’s itinerary failed to agree.

“Normally, the advance team of a visiting head of State goes early to work with the security of the host country to prepare for the requirements of the visiting president. But this time, it was a different story,” a Ugandan security source told Monitor.

The protocol team checks where the president will stay, the routes and vehicles that will be used during the summit period, among others.

Mr Museveni’s advance team arrived in Kigali on March 12, but by Sunday [March 18], the hotel to host the president was yet to be revealed as well as vehicles he was to use.

The source said that by that time all other presidential teams had information on where their presidents would stay, routes and vehicles to be used, except the Ugandans.


The Rwandans, the source said, misled the Ugandan team concerning meetings held to discuss the presidents’ itinerary.

Whenever the Museveni team would ask to meet with their Rwandan counterparts for discussion, they would be informed that there was no such meeting. However, the Ugandans would later be informed that security meetings had been held with other teams.

Frustrated, the Ugandans, reached out to Kampala, informing their bosses that the Rwandans were being uncooperative.

Sour relations

Relations between Kigali and Kampala have been deteriorating since last October after Rwanda accused Uganda of detaining and torturing its citizens and hosting dissents who seek to destabilise the government. Uganda denies the accusations but says those arrested were suspected of espionage.

Last month, Rwandan President Paul Kagame skipped an East African Community Summit held in Kampala.

Uganda and Rwanda have a long-held love-hate relationship.

Sources say despite the seemingly icy relations, Mr Museveni had planned to attend the Kigali summit but was advised to abort the trip by his handlers seeing that they could not guarantee his security.

The Ugandan advance team left Rwanda on Sunday.

Asked why the President cancelled the Kigali trip for the AU summit, Senior Presidential Press Secretary Mr Don Wanyama said: “That is confidential information I cannot share with the media.”

“The President is here because he has equally important matters to take care of,” Mr Wanyama added.

Uganda instead sent Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Sam Kutesa, to Kigali who signed the CFTA agreement as well as the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons that allows for free movement of people, right to live and establish a business anywhere in Africa.

The CFTA aims at boosting intra-Africa trade by making Africa a single market of 1.2 billion people and cumulated GDP of more than $3.4 trillion.

-Reported by Frederic Musisi.