Kagame and Museveni: Will This Dispute Ever Be Resolved
Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, the Presidents of Uganda and Rwanda respectively will meet on Friday at the Central African countries’ shared border. This is geared towards resolving the continuing dispute between the two African leaders who for many years stood by each other’s side and gave support to one another as they climb to power in their individual countries.
This is evident in 1986 when Paul Kagame was part of the rebel fighters led by Yoweri Museveni that took power in Kampala and in 1996 when Yoweri Museveni armed and supported Rwandan rebels led by Paul Kagame to seize power in Kigali. The two political allies also teamed up in 1996 to overthrown Mobutu Sese Seko and installed Laurent Kabila as President in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. In recent times, relation between the two leaders has been frosty as Paul Kagame accuses his former Ally of backing rebel groups and dissidents trying to bring down the government in Kigali.
In a News Conference last March, the then-Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Richard Sezibera, accused Uganda of supporting the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and also the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) with the country considering the groups as terrorist organizations.
According to him, these groups have carried out acts of Terrorism inside the country, grenade attack in Kigali, attacks in the north and south of the country and yet their leaders are in Uganda walking freely with the support of some officials of the government of Uganda. During the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide, President Paul Kagame, warned Uganda against interfering in his country’s internal affairs.
According to him, those who think we have not seen enough of a mess and want to mess with us, whether from here or from outside, I want to say: we will mess up with them big time making particular reference to Uganda. On November last year, Paul Kagame also made known that the government will raise the cost on the part of anybody who wants to destabilize the country’s security and advised the citizens to avoid Uganda. On the other hand, Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda has denied that his country is giving support to rebel groups and has accused Rwanda of trying to violate its sovereignty. According to the letter he sent to Kagame on March Last year, he stated that it is wrong for Rwandan agents to try to operate behind the government of Uganda. He said this based on the claim that Rwandan soldiers entered its territory in the Southwest District of Rukiga shooting and killing two suspected smugglers last May. In addition, Uganda accused Rwanda of supporting the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which has been blamed for a number of deaths and attacks in Uganda and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These accusations, the Rwanda government had denied.
Furthermore, the long heated feud affected regional trade when in February, Rwanda closed its busiest road crossing known as Katuna to Ugandans and Gatuna to Rwandans opening it briefly in June before closing it again. From the Rwanda side, the ordinary citizens are mostly affected from the dispute between the two countries as prices of basic goods have increased considerably. On the Ugandan side, the companies suffer more from the dispute. There is tension that the dispute between the two leaders will not end any time soon and this might lead to fresh crisis in the region but according to observers, there is nothing to worry about as this is not the first time such kind of dispute is occurring. According to a Ugandan based political analyst, Yusuf Serunkuma, for more than ten years now, Museveni and Kagame have not seen face-to-face. Kagame feels Museveni behaves as Rwanda is a province of Uganda rather than a sovereign country. On the other hand, Museveni thinks that Kagame is ungrateful forgetting who got him where he is today. According to analyst in the region, it is in the best interest of the two leaders to resolve their issues as Museveni have an election coming up next year and the last thing he will want now is for the border closure to become a campaign issue. For Kagame, Rwanda will not be able to sustain their import from Tanzania in the long run. It costs a lot and the country’s small economy and government cannot continue to bear the burden.
Finally, as the two leaders are set to meet in Katuna on Friday, traders and people living in the border areas are hopeful the border crossing will be reopened for good this time and thus bringing an end to the long overdue dispute between the two leaders.
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