Rwanda to reopen border with Uganda after almost three years

Friday January 28 2022
A border point between Rwanda and Uganda.

A bus is diverted to alternative routes after Gatuna/Katuna border post was closed in 2019. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG

By Ange Iliza

Rwanda has announced the reopening of its land borders with Uganda, including the Gatuna-Katuna border on January 31, three years after the border was closed.

The announcement comes a week after President Paul Kagame had a meeting with Lt. General Kainerugaba Muhoozi, Uganda’s Commander of Land Forces (UPDF) and Special Advisor to President Museveni, in Kigali, to discuss “Rwanda’s concerns and practical steps needed to restore the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda.”

“The government of Rwanda remains committed to ongoing efforts to resolve pending issues between Rwanda and Uganda and believes that today’s announcement will contribute positively to the speedy normalisation of relations between the two countries,” says a statement by the government of Rwanda released on Wednesday. 

Before Lt. Muhoozi's visit to Kigali, President Kagame had received Uganda’s envoy to the UN, Ambassador Adonija Ayebare, who reportedly had a message from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. 

Relations with Uganda deteriorated in 2017 when Rwanda accused its neighbour of harbouring groups that are hostile to Kigali and torturing innocent Rwandans on its soil. The Rwanda-Uganda border was closed in 2019. 

The reopening of the border was cheered and welcomed by Rwandans, including traders, students, and people with family members on the other side of the border.


“East African Business Council will engage Trade Mark East Africa soonest and the Ministries of Trade of both countries to have a formal opening of the Kagitumba-Mirama Hills OBPS, which was never officially opened since its completion. Our great leaders have spoken to the key pillar of our existence—trade facilitation,” tweeted Dennis Karera, Vice Chairman of the East African Business Council.

However, some members of the public have expressed concern that there is still more action to be taken against mistreating Rwandans in Uganda. Almost 50 Rwandans were deported from Uganda just a day before the announcement was made. 

“There's excitement in the air following Rwanda’s decision to re-open the Gatuna border. It's a huge move. But we aren’t there yet. Nearly 50 Rwandans were released by Uganda and dumped at the border just yesterday. Hope our friends continue on the path to normalisation,” James Munyaneza posted on Twitter. 

This brings the total number of Rwandan nationals deported by Uganda to almost 100 since December 2021. According to Rwandan authorities, more than 2,567 Rwandan nationals have been deported by Kampala since 2017.

Attempts to defuse the tensions that since led to the closure of their common borders in 2019 have not yielded results despite mediation efforts by presidents João Lourenço of Angola and DR Congo’s Félix Tshisekedi that saw Kampala and Kigali commit to ending the crisis.