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CHANGE OF GUARDS – In February 2019, Rwanda imposed a blockade on goods from Uganda and movement of its citizens to Uganda. Despite various diplomatic efforts to normalise relations, the situation is not improving and the blockade is still in force. Initially, Uganda had banked on the false belief that Rwanda’s economic survival depended on Uganda thus wouldn’t be able to sustain the blockade. One year down the road, Rwanda is thriving normally and instead it is Uganda which is counting the losses in revenue from cross border trade.

It is the Ugandan border communities who are craving to make ends meet by smuggling different items into Rwanda. Rwanda has uncompromisingly maintained strict border control and sternly dealt with those who attempt to illegally enter its territory. In May 2019, Alex Nyesiga, 32 years old,  together with a Rwandan national were shot dead by Rwanda security forces as they entered Rwanda from Uganda. On November 9, two other Ugandans, Job Ebyarishanga and Bosco Tuheirwe, both residents of Rukiga District near the border, were shot dead about 1km inside Rwanda. Rwanda police later claimed the deceased were smuggling raw tobacco into the country. The latest victims is a one Teo Jean Ndagizemana, 25 years old, a resident of Kabingo Village in Kisoro district, who was shot dead together with his two Rwandan cousins on Saturday evening by Rwandan security.

It is this latest killing that has prompted Uganda’s Parliament to direct the Minister of Foreign Affairs to come out and issue a statement on the relations between Uganda and Rwanda which continue to sour. It went ahead to propose that government issues a warning to its citizens not to travel to Rwanda. However, Parliament ought to know that travel advisories apply to those who use designated border entry points and not those who sneak into a foreign territory.

The government Chief Whip, Nankabirwa, told Parliament that government should be given more time to resolve the prevailing issues through ongoing talks. She promised to consult the relevant ministry concerning the issuance of a travel advisory to Ugandans.

Last week, Museveni’s Minister of State for International Cooperation, Okello Oryem told the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs that all staff of his ministry have been stopped from discussing or making public statements on the relationship between Uganda and Rwanda to avoid derailing the ongoing process to patch the strained relations between the two countries.
       ” I have been cautioned not to discuss the matter here or with anybody else. We are still in the process and I wouldn’t want to discuss those issues here. We have also stopped our staff from commenting on that subject matter as this may derail the whole process.”
By summoning the Minister of Foreign Affairs for a statement, does Parliament expect him to differ from his Minister of State!!

As a mobilization tool coupled by his strategic military vulnerability, since February 2019, Museveni has tamed his usual arrogance. He has been cautious in his statement with regard to the said relations. However, he has in some instances indirectly issued threats with regard to his capability to retaliate with dire consequences. His stance is meant to portray himself as the innocent victim. However, he has been mobilizing human resources through the marathon conscription of the so-called LDUs and other regular forces. To further play victim, on January 8 2020, he relented and set free the 9 Rwandans he had been detaining without trial on accusations of spying.

During the handover ceremony, his Minister of Foreign Affairs told the Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda that the release of the Rwandan nationals was a political decision to ease tension between the two countries. He further stated that Uganda expects Rwanda to “reciprocate” the favour.
      “This is an act of goodwill which we hope will be reciprocated by the Rwanda government by dealing with the other issues we have raised,” Mr Kutesa stated.
In response, the Rwandan Ambassador said that;
     “I am appreciating this as a step in the right direction and I am mentioning the ‘step’ because I always want to be very clear that a step in the right direction needs to be followed by further action to end the concerns,” he said.
He also repeated the allegations that Uganda supports enemies of Rwanda;
          “For me and the country I represent, it is this will to establish running of bilateral relations that will revamp the associated, mutually beneficial activities including economic and what is usually talked about- the uninterrupted activities along the common border,” he added.

By effecting the so-called ” political goodwill”, Museveni had wrongly estimated that Rwanda would be hoodwinked into allowing the flow of the border trade in favor of Museveni’s much craved for revenues. Instead, Rwanda has maintained its stand to the extent that even the truck loads of cattle that were on transit to Burundi were recently denied entry. Rwanda’s primary concern has been the allegations that Uganda is facilitating dissident armed groups against Rwanda. Uganda has been evasive on that issue – why it doesn’t want to engage the East African Community in mediation. It is for the same reason that he doesn’t want Parliament to poke its nose in the matter.

Therefore, by directing the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make a statement over the souring relations with Rwanda, Parliament is wasting its time and resources. Above all, it risks being labeled as being used by Rwanda. However, as had been the case with the invasion of DRC, one day Museveni will come to address Parliament after his army will have invaded Rwanda.


—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: January 25, 2020 at 04:55PM

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