KIGALI – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has admitted that the Regional integration is at stake citing continued disappearance and deportation of Rwandans who cross the border to Uganda.
Mr Kageme made the remarks while presiding over the opening of the 16th National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano), which attracted more than 2000 Rwandans to discuss how to improve citizen’s welfare.
He went ahead to say the regional integration is not about countries taking from others for their benefit at the detriment of others.
He says “that ceases to be integration but rather exploitation.”
This has come days after a Ugandan court remanded nine Rwandan women to Kyamugorani prison.
The nine were arrested last Sunday, by Police on charges of illegal entry into the country.
The nine women and others are being charged with engaging in illegal business as well as illegally stay in Uganda.
Kagame said the much-preached regional integration can only work if people put words into action and work for the benefit of the region and not just their own.
“How can people do business with each other without freedom of movement? How can people trade with each other when those who cross the border to your country are put in jail or disappear without leaving any traces?
“How can we do business with each other when your understanding of regional integration is only about your benefit? This cannot work. Regional integration can’t just be for you to take; it is about ‘give and take’,” Kagame said.
The deportations have stoked diplomatic tensions between the two countries. Recently, Rwanda High Commissioner Frank Mugambage protested what he called the continued arrest of Rwanda citizens by the Kampala government.
Mugambage also claimed that Uganda has failed to investigate terror groups working within Uganda with plans to attack Rwanda.
“Regional integration is also about security. You cannot use sovereignty to allow your territory to be used to compromise the security of your neighbours. That is not regional integration,” Kagame added.
Kagame also called on leaders and citizens to unit, think big and be accountable to themselves and each other.
“Think big, think beyond you as an individual. We have to work in a way where you feel accountable that if you do not do your job well, it will have consequences beyond yourself. You have to hold yourself and each other accountable,” Kagame said.
Highlighting Rwanda’s role in nurturing good international relations across Africa, Kagame said that many good things have been achieved across the continent.
This year, he said Rwanda has been central in driving the continent’s diplomacy and trade, especially through the chairmanship of the African Union.