On Friday, a delegation of high ranking officials from Uganda and Rwanda met at Speke Munyonyo Hotel, Kampala to find a solution to the diplomatic fallout between the two countries. The meeting is a follow-up to a recent one that was held in Kigali.
The meeting that lasted for 8 hours mainly discussed the implementation of Luanda Agreements that were signed in July 2019.
The deliberations were expected to be as smooth as the ones held in Kigali when Ministers of Foreign Affairs addressed the audience but this time, after the mediator countries’ representatives’ speeches, the discussions were declared a closed session.
The Rwandan delegation was led by the State Minister for East African Community, Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe and included Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, the Minister of Local Government, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, Patrick Nyamvumba, the Minister of Internal Security and Secretary-General of the National Intelligence and Security Services, Joseph Nzabamwita.
Even though the meeting lasted for 8 hours, no final decisions were taken and throughout the debates, Rwanda kept providing evidence that the Government of Uganda had failed to respect the Luanda agreement provisions.
One of the observers at the meeting told IGIHE that the discussions began on good terms but that at some point, Uganda representatives could not provide plausible reasons as to why some of the clauses in the agreement were not respected and that Rwanda representatives did not take that lightly.
After the closed session, Amb Olivier Nduhungirehe and Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa informed the media about the meeting’s resolutions. Kutesa said that the meeting discussed about 9 clauses included in the Luanda agreement.
The said clauses spell out respecting the rights of citizens in both countries and establishing a commission linking the two countries to ease the implementation of Luanda agreements.
“There are some decisions we agreed upon but for sensitive topics, we will ask for the interventions of our Heads of States.”
He added that both countries reported problems they were facing relating to the conflict and proposed solutions to solve them. “We believe there still is a chance for addressing our differences but what is more important is establishing trust between the two countries.”
He said that what the delegates failed to agree upon will be solved next time by representatives in higher positions.
Amb Olivier Nduhungirehe said that Rwandans are still not safe to travel to Uganda and that their lives are at stake.
“We discussed the implementation of Luanda agreements signed on July 21st, 2019 and Kigali Agreements signed on September 16th, 2019 and realized some clauses have been respected and others not. We will keep discussing solutions.”
“We also talked about the problem of Rwandans who were illegally incarcerated in Uganda and tortured but no solution was given.”
He also mentioned the ongoing propaganda against Rwanda that is being done through Uganda media and that got much worse after Kigali agreements.
Rwandans demand safety
Nduhungirehe compares the conflict between Uganda and Rwanda as a poison that can be reversed by an antidote.
“We do not need additional meetings and we do not need to establish a commission. All we have to do is guarantee the safety of our citizens. We came here with so many expectations and Rwandans on social media are also eager to know what will happen now. They want to know if they are safe to go to Uganda without being imprisoned and tortured. Our citizens who live in regions bordering Uganda need to know they don’t have to worry about attacks from terrorist groups operating on the Ugandan territory. We hope an agreement will be reached at last.”
While Rwanda accuses Uganda of illegal incarceration of Rwandans, trade embargo and Uganda supporting terrorist groups; Uganda blames the whole conflict on allegations that Rwanda closed its borders.
About the temporary closing of borders, Nduhungirehe says all the Government of Rwanda had in mind was protecting citizens in the midst of recent attacks from terrorist groups.
“The second concern we have is wondering if Rwandans are safe to travel to Uganda or visit their relatives in peace without worrying about being imprisoned and tortured. All this is an answer to Ugandan media that blames the conflict on Rwanda closing borders.”
Since the Kigali convention, 99 Rwandans were chased back to Rwanda while since the beginning of the year, the number is 588.
When asked about the ongoing incarceration of Rwandans, Kutesa answered that Uganda also addressed the issue of Rwandan spies in Uganda. “The Rwandans were imprisoned because they are spying on Uganda but we expect that there will soon be a solution to that. Uganda has no business quarreling with Rwanda.”
So far, Uganda has not done anything to address the concern of Rwandans being tortured or terrorist groups it supports. In March 2019, the Government of Rwanda warned citizens to stop travels to Uganda for security purposes.
Since January 2019, 1438 Rwandans have been chased from Uganda after days of imprisonment and torture by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and The Internal Security Organization (ISO)
Nduhungirehe says about the concern of Rwandans who were abducted that there are ongoing negotiations for their release and that if all goes according to plan, travels to Uganda will soon resume. In the meantime, trade between the two countries cannot prosper.
Rwanda also provided evidence about terrorist groups including FDLR, RNC, and RUD operating on the Ugandan territory.
Testimonies from former FDLR and RNC subsidiary, P5 confirmed that Uganda supports terrorist groups who have the agenda of causing political instability in Rwanda.
More than 7 hours of a deep, open, frank but cordial discussion between #Uganda & #Rwanda. No agreement on a solution to the most contentious issues (Uganda's support to armed groups & illegal detention of Rwandans in Uganda). We agreed to refer the matter to our Heads of State. pic.twitter.com/IvdEgpnO1F
— Amb. Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe (@onduhungirehe) December 13, 2019