Rwandan President Paul Kagame has criticised member states of the East African Community for lacking interest in the region’s integration process.
In his State-of-the-Nation address on Thursday, President Kagame said that while countries understand the benefits of integration and co-existence, including free trade and the free movement of people, unresolved issues were undermining the process.
For example, Kigali and Kampala have had frosty relations since last year, with Rwanda accusing Uganda of harbouring dissidents plotting to destabilise the country, and arbitrarily arresting its nationals travelling to the Uganda.
But Kampala said the crackdown targeted Rwandans who were engaged in acts of espionage and had infiltrated security organs.
A meeting between President Kagame and President Museveni in March failed to resolve the matter.
“We all agree that there are many reasons for us to be integrated than those that separate us, but the challenge is how we conduct ourselves. Going forward, we have to deal with it as we seek to implement what we’ve agreed on,” said President Kagame.
It is the first time President Kagame has spoken out publicly on regional integration following the cancellation of the 20th Heads of State Summit at the end of last month due to lack of quorum after Burundi pulled out.
President Kagame said that Rwanda will not get tired of pointing out these issues, but added that “the problem is that these challenges are more prevalent among our neighbours.”
“We will continue our efforts to work with them,” he said.
The Rwanda leader said that regional integration does not stop at free trade or movement of people but involves countries ensuring the security of their neighbours.