Rwanda cancels Uganda meet amid frosty ties

Saturday November 16 2019

Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of East African Community Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe greets Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa in Kigali on September 16, 2019, before the opening session of a meeting between officials of the two countries. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA


After only one meeting to implement an agreement signed in Luanda, Angola and brokered by the presidents of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda are nowhere near normalising diplomatic relations.

Rwanda requested a postponement of a follow up meeting scheduled for November 18, in Kampala.

Rwanda’s State minister for the East African Community Olivier Nduhungirehe told The EastAfrican that the postponement was requested because the Rwandan committee would not be available “due to other important commitments.”

“Some members of our delegation will not be available on due to other assignments. So we requested Uganda to postpone the meeting to a more convenient date,” he said.

Ofwono Opondo, the executive director for the Uganda media centre, confirmed the postponement of the meeting, which was to actualise the MoU signed in Luanda.

The meeting has suffered several setbacks.


Diplomatic protest note

Rwanda had complained about Uganda’s alleged invitation through the media, culminating in a diplomatic protest note sent to Rwanda’s High Commission on November 12.

Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary delivered the diplomatic protest, in which the State protested the murder of two of its citizens, Job Ebyarishanga and Bosco Tuhirwe, who were shot by Rwandan security on November 10 over allegations of smuggling.

“Uganda protests the murder of its nationals by Rwanda security personnel for allegedly being involved in the smuggling of goods across the common border,” reads the protest note.

Rwanda claimed that the two suspected smugglers turned violent and assaulted the police officers before being shot.

However, Kampala argues that whatever the alleged crimes the murder of the two could not be justified.

“The alleged crime by the two men cannot justify the high handed and criminal act by Rwandan security personnel against unarmed civilians residing along the common border,” reads Uganda’s statement.

Uganda also raised concern over the shooting of Rwandan national Peter Havugimana, who went to Uganda after being shot in the shoulder about 200 metres into the Rwandan border. Mr Havugimana was carrying about 10 kilogrammes of potatoes from Uganda when he was shot.

Relations between the two countries have been deteriorating since the beginning of 2018 after Rwanda claimed its citizens were being persecuted by Uganda.

Over the past one year, Uganda has arrested several Rwandans, accusing them of security-related offences including the possession of guns.

In February, Rwanda announced that it would be closing its border with Uganda, which affected movement of goods and people through both countries.

To mend relations, Angola’s President Joao Lourenco and the DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi worked to bring President Yoweri Museveni and President Paul Kagame together. This culminated in the signing of the MoU in Luanda.

The signing was to be followed by meetings with the goal of normalising the frosty relations. However, Rwanda and Uganda have only held one meeting in Kigali.