Rwanda, Uganda ministers to meet over Luanda agreement

Saturday August 31 2019

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (left)

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (left) shakes hand with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame after signing an agreement to end the hostility between the two countries in Luanda, Angola, on August 21, 2019. PHOTO | URUGWIRO 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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A delegation of Rwanda and Ugandan officials and ministers are “working on” a joint meeting to discuss the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Angola by Rwanda and Uganda leaders to end months of tensions which have gone on for over two years now.

A highly placed source told The EastAfrican that the first high-level official meeting could happen in “the next few weeks.”

“Both parties are confident that the agreement will be ‘fully implemented’”, said the source without giving details on the date and venue for the meeting.

The planned convention serves a clause in the Luanda agreement which calls both countries to establish an Adhoc committee for the implementation of the MoU headed by the ministries of foreign affairs and composed of the ministers responsible for internal administration and intelligence chiefs.

No update has been provided as of this week regarding what has so far been implemented from the agreement.

President Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni embarked on busy schedules since signing the agreement last Wednesday and have not publicly commented anything regarding its implementation.

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Shortly after meeting in Luanda last week, both leaders travelled to Japan for the seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (Ticad).

Media censorship

Kigali and Kampala have also held talks over the back and forth censorship of online media websites that each country deems to be spreading “propaganda” and inciting insecurity.

The Uganda Communication Centre on August 16 ordered internet providers to block Rwanda’s only daily newspaper, The New Times, as well as online tabloid Igihe, on grounds of national security.

The Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority countered by blocking a host of Ugandan sites including New Vision, Daily Monitor, The Observer, Chimp Reports and The Independent.

Last week, both regulators discussed resolving the impasse and agreed to debate how to publish content that follows “proper media ethics” in the interest of regional integration.

“We are in direct talks with UCC and we are in agreement of what needs to be done and we are progressing well. However, there are certain things that we agreed that we both need to do to make sure that we avoid such problems in the future and that is what is taking a bit longer,” Patrick Nyirishema, Director General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) told The EastAfrican.

UCC spokesperson Ibrahim Bbosa said that officials had met with some online editors of Ugandan news outlets on the potential risk that could come out of careless reporting.

“Some online publishers have an interest in trying to increase their online following and others assume they were being more patriotic by carelessly reporting about some things, but we realised that through that, dangers are being created,” said Mr Bbosa.

Meanwhile, businesses continue to count losses as the closure of the common border enters the seventh month.

Some Ugandan companies with operations in Rwanda have reported losses and some have laid off workers.

Joseph Kalema, a trader in silverfish, says that every month they used to import fish worth Ush5 billion ($1.3million) for sale in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo but the business has almost died.

“The border closure has caused us huge losses. Some of us had bank loans, now we don’t know where this is headed but they really ruined our trade,” he said.

He said the Congolese fish buyers have now resorted to picking the silverfish themselves from Kiyindi on the shores of Lake Victoria, cutting out all those who used to benefit along the trade chain.

“I don’t know how we will recover, even when things normalise,” he said.

—Additional reporting by Moses K. Gahigi

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