Rwandan President Paul Kagame has ruled out an escalation of hostilities between his country and Uganda, even as diplomatic tensions that have lasted more than a year continue.
In an interview with Belgian media in Brussels, where he was attending the European Development Days summit (EDD 2019), President Kagame said: “People fear fighting between us. I don’t see it coming because I think Uganda understands the cost of it. We don’t want to go down that road because everyone will lose something.”
Since late February, Rwanda has blocked its citizens from travelling to Uganda and restricted Ugandan goods from crossing the border.
President Kagame said Uganda had been arresting Rwandans and supporting rebel groups opposed to his government.
“We have seen Uganda getting involved in supporting groups against us because they think we don’t stand for the interests of Uganda. We see people being arrested in Uganda,” he said.
Ugandan officials have denied these claims.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has largely remained quiet about the tension with Rwanda. His government has however accused Rwanda of spying on Ugandan soil, charges that President Kagame denies.
On Wednesday, the Rwanda National Congress — an opposition group that Kigali claims is supported by Uganda — said it had requested dialogue with President Kagame, but that its letter was not responded to. On the same day, Faustin Twagiramungu, Rwanda's former prime minister who now resides in Belgium, held a press conference in Brussels and accused President Kagame of creating tension with Uganda.
But President Kagame dismissed Mr Twagiramungu and the exiled opposition groups as “hooligans.”
“These people, Twagiramungu and [Paul] Rusesabagina, are here in Europe, using the generosity of the Belgians, turning themselves into democrats and civil society that is fighting for freedom. But they are just a bunch of hooligans,” President Kagame said.
“It is like they are looking at Rwanda’s progress, they don’t like Kagame for whatever reason and they can’t stop us making progress, and there is nothing they can do about Kagame,” he added.
Rwanda has also had diplomatic spats with neighbours Burundi and the DRC. Relations with the DRC have smoothed over in the past few months with the launch of flights between the two countries.